What Makes Each Platform Truly Valuable?
Ever since Snapchat was created in September 2011, they’ve been in serious competition with Facebook, despite the fundamental differences between the two. Facebook was created in 2004 as a social network for college students (specifically Harvard students), and grew into a Fortune 500 company that now includes news feeds, live streaming, videos, groups, events, and instant messaging. Snapchat was created as a private messaging platform to share pictures and messages that disappear after a short period of time. This evolved into a more public platform that allows for both public and private messaging, video sharing, and has become famous for its colorful and fun filters.
The Case for Facebook – Numbers
Facebook’s growth has defied all predictions and expectations. It’s now the world’s biggest social media platform ever created and has a whopping 1.86 billion monthly active users. Yes, billion with a “B”. Facebook also owns Instagram, which has 500 million active monthly users, and WhatsApp, which has 700 million active users. To put that kind of influence into perspective, that means that Facebook has more active users than China’s entire population. Tough to ignore that kind of impact!
Not only does Facebook have the numbers, but it also owns people’s time and attention. It’s been estimated that the average Facebook user spends 50 minutes a day on all of its platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp). And, 50 minutes a day from well over 1 billion people adds up to some pretty damn good engagement. That’s the kind of time most companies could only dream of. What Facebook has managed to do with this information is capture data on its 1 billion+ users and create advertising opportunities. In fact, Facebook has over 4 million active advertisers and it’s continuing to grow. This has led to some major profits. By the third quarter of 2016, Facebook brought in $6.8 billion in advertising revenue. Again, billion with a “B”.
The Case for Snapchat – Creativity
Snapchat has also brought in some impressive numbers, with over 301 million monthly active users and 2.5 billion average Snaps a day. But, what stands out more about Snapchat is its creativity and uniqueness. Unlike other social platforms, it doesn’t rely on social proof, such as “like” numbers and follower counts.
CEO Evan Spiegel stated in Snapchat’s first ever blog post, “We’re building a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection but rather creates a space to be funny, honest, or whatever else you might feel like at the moment you take and share a Snap.” Snapchat has a deeper focus on authenticity rather than portraying a perfect, filtered life, which is what has drawn in such a large audience. Posting feels less like a performance, and more like a real look into the user’s life.
It also stands out through its encouragement of user-curated media and editing, its focus on the camera (which is the first thing that opens on the app), and its total embrace of augmented reality. In fact, they’ve paved the way for augmented reality in the social media space, and now other social media platforms are trying to jump on the bandwagon too.
The Battle Of The Platforms
Where Do They Go From Here?
Overall, the industry needs both. Snapchat and Facebook both add incredible value to the tech world and continue to challenge the status quo. Competition is good, and it will only push them to innovate harder and one-up each other over time.
Facebook is blatantly in the lead when it comes to numbers, but there’s too much emphasis placed on data for data’s sake, which benefits Facebook. This kind of programmatic approach removes human touch. That’s where Snapchat continues to thrive with its authenticity and “realness,” and continues to stand out.
Even though their offerings are different and there’s a huge disparity in their numbers, it doesn’t mean their value is inherently different. That being said, in order to continue thriving, it’s vital that Snapchat continue trendsetting to stay in the game with Facebook. Since it’s purely creativity and innovation that keeps Snapchat in the game, they will need to pull out all the stops to stay relevant.
As for the rest of us, we get to kick back and watch them try to top one another over the next few years as their rivalry plays out. Should be quite the show. Lucky us.
What do you think the future of Snapchat and Facebook is? Let us know in the comments!