Facebook has had it out for SnapChat for years. They’re going after the messaging platform yet again…but it already looks like a miss.
For Facebook, it’s personal, it’s bitter, and it’s only getting more direct. Back in 2013, Mark Zuckerberg reportedly offered $3 billion to by what was, at least at the time, the hottest social platform on the block, Snapchat. Facebook was essentially trying to buy itself a younger demographic, and to this day, Snapchat dominates the among users 24 and under. For Zuckerberg, the idea was to purchase what is considered a less-valuable demographic now in the hopes that users would stick with the platform they grew up with into their 20s and 30s, ensuring a prime market for Facebook for decades to come.
Snapchat didn’t bite. With all the momentum in the world, CEO Evan Speigel stuck to his guns and courted investors, eventually taking the company public. In 2017, the company’s stock price fell below $17 around the same time Facebook announced that its new toy, Instagram, had incorporated face filters, a more robust messaging service, and ever-increasing offerings to the Stories element of the platform. Sound familiar? They had essentially turned the previously static photo-sharing app into a Snapchat clone and operated with billions of dollars in the back pocket for further upgrades.
Zuckerberg Starts To Hammer
In 2018, Snapchat began to crumble under the assault. When experts claimed that Snapchat’s daily users were static, the company had to correct them; in fact, they were down 2%. Developers admitted that a redesign had discouraged even loyal snappers from using it as often as they had. The news quickly made its mark, with shares of the company down as much as 54% by the second quarter of that year. It wasn’t just the redesign; it was the active, pointed, and successful imitation of Snapchat by Instagram, and most would admit that they’d built something that surpassed the look and utility of the real thing.
As 2019 comes to a close, Facebook is looking to grab as many of Snapchat’s 188 million users as possible with a new app called Threads. The messaging app appears to be billed as a companion to Instagram, expanding on the ‘Close Friends’ feature that Instagram rolled out earlier in 2019. Threads will share more information than ever among selected friends groups, including location, travel history, status updates and, of course, photo and video support. Much of the messaging aspect of the platform looks almost identical to Instagram’s messaging functions.
Oddly enough, this seems to go against Facebook’s move earlier this year, which saw them move much of Instagram’s messaging team over to Facebook’s Messenger, signaling that ‘Big Brother’ was looking to fold both platforms and brands even closer together. The end goal here is to allow Instagram users to message with Messenger users, offering a sort of bridge between each platform. It will be interesting to see if Threads incorporates any of this functionality; Facebook has ended development of other applications because users didn’t like having to use a separate app to message.
For now, Threads is just another tool in the arsenal against Snapchat, and it may turn out to be necessary. Snapchat posted a massive quarterly total revenue of $390 million, and as of mid-2019, they’re no longer losing users.
For now, betting on Facebook and Instagram offers the best bang for the buck, especially when you consider just how specific Snapchat’s demographics are. Unless your business banks on the company’s 45% of users between the ages of 18-24, you’ll get a lot more out of the robust advertising tools on Facebook and Instagram. Being able to run concerted paid campaigns that reach prime demographics and having robust analytics to shape those campaigns makes social efforts much more effective. Will Snapchat still be around in five years? Yes, but so is MySpace…technically.