In the field of social media, all roads lead to one destination: cracking the code of continuous dopamine hits with partial attention. We learned this in the days of Vine, before Twitter foolishly killed it. And I turned my lens on the emerging trend in 2016 when I highlighted Musical.ly for Mashable, just before it was picked up by China’s Bytedance for $ 1 billion and merged with what is now TikTok.
What’s not often mentioned is the fact that, after Twitter dropped the Vine ball in 2017, Snapchat was left as the single, most prominent provider of sticky, addictive mobile multimedia content. Users were captivated and the media loved the rise of Snapchat from Los Angeles among Silicon Valley̵
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All went well… and then Snap founder Evan Spiegel turned down Mark Zuckerberg’s $ 3 billion takeover bid in 2013. Not long after that, Facebook’s hugely popular Instagram app quickly became a copycat engine, spawning its own Snapchat-esque features at every turn.
Even Snap’s commitment to augmented reality is zealously echoed by Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram. The most famous example is Instagram Stories, which Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom openly admitted was a copy of Snapchat Stories.
The practice takes so long that it is almost never mentioned again. When Twitter recently released its new Fleets feature, there was little discussion of how the brevity of the feature was developed by Snapchat.
But while these feature wars were going on in the West, Bytedance continued to iterate on TikTok’s features, including augmented reality, and it has now become clear that the real threat to social media’s global dominance comes from China.
That’s why the debut of Snapchat’s new Spotlight feature is so important, and not so surprising. In a way, it represents a maturity of the company’s approach to the competition. Rather than staying determined in its mission of only rolling out completely original features, Snap has clearly realized that TikTok has come up with a new social media dynamic that can’t be ignored: an endless stream of bite-sized, meme-like snippets, often to music, curated and forward-facing in the app to keep you locked in for as long as possible. The Facebook version, called Reels, was launched in August.
Notably, the one thing that the two American competitors seem to be leading the way is captivating creators. Facebook / Instagram has its Spark AR Studio and Snap has its Lens Studio. Both are tools that want to make creating immersive AR filters and experiences as easy to use as starting Photoshop to create a 2D graphic.
So now the table is set. TikTok, Instagram / Facebook, and now Snapchat all have super-short video clip streams, all supported by AR and music, waiting for your attention to hold, now it’s just a matter of who’s doing better and figuring out the next shift better than the others.
Of all the players involved, Snapchat is the only competitor whose original core innovation still acts as a central part of its hallmark DNA, and the only competitor to lean so hard on AR that it even has a rapidly evolving camera-based hardware component associated with it. the software.
Neither of these factors guarantees success over the others, but Snap’s decision to put in approximately $ 1 million per day across the winning Spotlight creators is an indication that the company understands how crucial this new social media frontier is for the future of the whole world. space.
If I read the tea leaves on social media carefully, we’ll soon see AR in one form or another on Twitter, and Facebook will likely be more likely to get its own camera glasses in preparation for full AR smartglasses (probably helped by Ray-Ban) to get to market faster than anyone expected. Indeed, the next 12 months will be crucial for both social media and mobile AR.
For now, we know that while even in the face of political challenges, TikTok threatened to take over social media, the game has changed once again and a few West Coast companies are now firmly engaged in the battle for equal office. to hold on to, fighting for your attention with AR as the ultimate continuous line to the future.