And another clone was born today. Called Messenger Day, Facebook has rolled out a new feature on Messenger, which is another unabashed rip off of Snapchat Stories. So basically, it lets its users put up images or videos to a ‘My Day’ tag, equivalent to Snapchat Stories, which is visible to their listed friends for a span of 24 hours, after which it automatically disappears. Now, Facebook began this tradition of taking inspiration from Snapchat in August last year, when one fine day, Facebook-owned Instagram suddenly had blatantly lifted off the Stories features from Snapchat, and boldly called it Stories on its own platform as well. Since then, this adoption of features has refused to stop.
Late last year, Facebook-owned WhatsApp added the feature to doodle and edit images sent on the platform, and just a few weeks ago, the online messaging platform also replaced its old text status update with a Story update. While the Stories feature is an add-on for all these platforms, that is, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, the reason why the lift off is so evident is because it is Snapchat’s core feature.
Now what is happening here is, since last year, these four social media platforms, which are immensely popular, are all turning insanely similar. If you look from the company’s perspective, they are basically cashing on the most trending and the most interactive mode of communication, which now is images and videos, and so they are integrating the same across their platforms to hold on to users’ attention. However, for the end user, these platforms are now losing their individuality, and honestly they are now just becoming too much to keep up with.
@WhatsApp please go back to how you were before the last update. This story thing is stupid. I want my status back!
— Ishita Srivastava (@_superwomaniya_) March 10, 2017
It’s Facebook everywhere. Do we really need more of it? Hate #WhatsappStatus
— Surabhi Nijhawan (@surabhinijhawan) February 22, 2017
Though the Stories feature worked well in favor of Instagram, consequently taking over some of Snapchat’s audience. According to a report on TechCrunch, following the launch of Instagram Stories, there has been a decline in Snapchat Story usage by up to 40 percent. Based on analyses by the social media content industry, it has been observed that Snapchat Story view counts witnessed a decline between 15 to 40 percent. As for WhatsApp, though it’s too soon to analyse the success of the Story Status feature as yet, but a recent WhatsApp Beta update hinted at the platform bringing back its old text status update, which would possibly be along with image/video status.
Besides the Stories feature in particular, there are other popular features which we have seen being lifted and dropped from one platform to the other as well. For instance, Facebook took social media by a storm with its Live video feature. Celebrities, pages, marketers, and even the regular users were immediately hooked to the Live videos. Soon after, we saw Twitter rolling out the the live videos on its platform, which were powered by Periscope. Few months ago, Instagram also added the feature, however with an ephemeral quality to it, which means one will only be able to watch a live video while it is being streamed.
However, the bigger question here is, why is this cloning taking place? Why do these platforms feel the need to integrate a trending feature all across? The reason is you.
So, you must have read and heard the terms millennials over and again now, and how the particular generation have been most in touch with technology as compared to any other generation before them. According to Junco and Mastrodicasa’s survey published in their 2007 book, based on college students, even ten years ago, 76 percent of students used instant messaging, 92 percent of those reported multitasking while instant messaging, 40 percent of them used television to get most of their news, and 34 percent of students surveyed used the Internet as their primary news source. And so, given the technological inclination, it is widely believed that social media revolves around the demands of this generation. But, that’s not true. ALSO READ: The Bad, The Worse and The Worst of Social Media
The generation which is the core target of any of the social media platforms is the post millennial generation, also called the Generation Z. While the millennials grew up with the world wide web, the Gen Z is the one that grew up with social media. Gen Z are fast thinkers. “Blink, share, laugh, forget”, a phrase coined at The Future Laboratory which summarises Gen Z. From academics to dating, social media has had its hand in gen z’s pockets from the very beginning. Unlike the generation of the millennials who probably wanted MTV, Gen Z likes fleeting platforms like Snapchat and Instagram for entertainment.
Consequently, with all judgements aside, having grown up with platforms with auto-diminishing algorithms, image and location updates, live videos, check-ins and reaction emojis, the meaning of communication has altered as well, they are all about the visual language. Take the example of Snapchat, a teen from this generation receives an image, laughs, cries, screams (delete as appropriate) and then it’s gone forever within 10 seconds. Research shows that Gen Z has an 8 second attention span. Their minds have developed to be able to process information at a quicker pace than older generations. So while you are still reading this article, Gen Z have probably already read it, snapped it, or posted it on Instagram with a number of emojis, discussed the pros and cons of this article, and moved on to may be Whatsapp to ask their friend what they think of Ed Sheeran’s new video.
And for brands, this means creating a platform which has everything thing a Gen Z-er would demand at one place. They do not want to miss an opportunity of losing a user to another platform, when they can offer it all in one space. And this goes full circle to the question why this platform cloning begun in the first place.