If you want to be original, be ready to be copied. ~ Coco Chanel, French fashion designer
This piece was inspired by two great articles about this subject: Why I’m leaving Snapchat and so are all your friends by Owen Williams and Why I’m Not Leaving Snapchat, and My Friends Aren’t Either: A Response to Owen Williams’ Article by Dakota Shane
Yes, Facebook blatantly copied Snapchat. You know it. I know it. Snapchat knows it. Heck, even Facebook has admitted it when Instagram first announced its play.
Facebook replicated Snapchat’s entire concept of Stories verbatim – three times. Remember, Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.
I won’t go into how each version works and the small differences between them. I also won’t bore you with my thinking around why Facebook is doing this. There’s plenty of articles online about these topics. There are much more smarter people than me that can give you their expert opinion.
If you copy me you’re already 5 steps behind. ~ Unknown
This isn’t a scientific test. Far from it. It’s just an observation of my social networks for one day to satisfy my curiosity and a question I asked myself. Yes, I probably should’ve recorded results over 7 days, 14 days, 28 days, and average it out. But I’m not an academic. And this isn’t a factual thesis. Just an fun observation from a media and tech nerd. Also, as there’s so many different names, I’ve bundled Stories/Day/Stories/Status into one term when explaining the concept: Stories.
A bit about me. I’m a Snapchat user. I’ve used it for about 12-18 months. I love the platform, the company, and the brand. When Instagram and Facebook released its Stories feature, I told myself I would never use it. Why stray away from the OG?
It’s also freaking annoying. Who wants to take a picture or video four times, add respective filters, words, and drawings, across all these platforms? And what if you’re capturing a spur of the moment scene? Impossible. Also, how narcissistic am I to do that? And who also has the time to do all that?
However, if you’re a brand, you should be on all platforms. Full stop. No excuses. You should also be on YouTube, WeChat, Yelp, and wherever your audiences are getting their news and daily content from. It’s just smart.
Anyways, here are the results from my very unscientific 24-hour test from 1:00am, Monday 10 April to 11:50pm, Monday, 10 April (a typically slow day). From the highest to lowest engagement rates:
Snapchat Stories (19 views out of ~100 friends; 19% open rate)
Instagram Stories (41 views out of 243 followers; 12.8% open rate)
Messenger Day (24 views out of 434 friends; 5.5% open rate)
WhatsApp Status (3 views out of ~300 contacts; 1% open rate)
Excuse the different image, apparently if you turn off read receipts for chat, you also don’t get to see the number of views on Status.
A few observations:
1. My Snapchat friends aren’t all active. At least 25% of them have left the platform after experimenting with it. My followers on Instagram and Facebook are definitely much more engaging (albeit not through the Stories platform).
2. Different people in my life viewed the same picture across the different platforms — it’s weird when you know a Facebook friend from high school viewed your Story but they haven’t engaged in any Facebook updates you’ve posted for a while.
3. As a business, Messenger Day will be harder to use as you’re not friends with your customers.
4. Snapchat is specifically targeting Millennials. While they’ve just gone public and Wall Street seems to think that the only metric is revenue and increased MAUs every quarter, Snap doesn’t really care about any other demographics as long as its users stay active and are spending more time + more money (even though more older people are getting onto the platform) — they’re playing the long game.
5. Snapchat’s four million Australian active daily users are split: 18-24 (31%); 25-34-year-olds (28%); 13-17 (23%); 35+ (18%).
6. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp had large existing networks before Snapchat became the cool brand that Millennials know and love. Its main platforms are also not focused on ephemeral conversations whereby Snapchat is.
7. Snapchat is bloody hard to use. And that’s not a bad thing for the younger generation. They want to feel included.
8. As the world becomes more connected and digital, personal details about us are being sold and used to advertise to us and the younger generation know this. That’s why Snapchat is different. It’s not part of Facebook or Google. As I said about, Snap is playing the long game.
9. The easiest to use platform was definitely Instagram, then Messenger, then Snapchat.
More testing is to be done but hopefully my first impressions give somewhat an insight.
What does the future look like? Will Facebook outplay Snapchat? I’m not too sure, we’ll just have to see.
What gives the artist real prestige is his imitators. ~ Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer