It’s no secret that Facebook has invested considerable effort and revenue into imitating—and arguably improving upon—Snapchat’s famous features since it was unsuccessful in buying the photo-sharing app in 2013. Last August, Facebook added disappearing Stories on Instagram, tapping into the “fear of missing out” while appealing to young consumers—especially creators. Facebook’s Messenger service later followed suit, as did WhatsApp, another messaging app owned by the social network. Now Facebook has taken it a step further, rolling out Stories for Facebook—complete with an in-app camera, stickers and “masks” galore. If Facebook is trying to kill Snapchat, however, it won’t “give up the ghost” that easily.
Snapchat has introduced targeted ad offerings, mid-roll ads and sponsored lenses to help brands stand out on the platform, but has done its fair share of copying, as well. Shortly after Instagram announced direct video messages, Snapchat responded by enabling one-on-one texts, picture messaging and video chats.
Snap, Inc. is in a delicate position, having just made its debut on the stock market. While an endorsement by Morgan Stanley helped stock prices on Monday, Facebook’s “Story” announcement resulted in a drop down 3.7 percent to $22.95 per share on Tuesday. “We are bullish about Snap’s ability to monetize its highly engaged daily active user (DAU) base,” wrote a Morgan Stanley analyst, valuing the stock at $28. “First, we believe Snap’s millennial audience and differentiated online video ad inventory are in demand by advertisers.”
While brands and creators often prefer Facebook and Instagram for marketing efforts—largely due to helpful analytics—studies show that Snapchat’s young users still prefer the original to imitators. Adweek commissioned a study by Survata, exploring preferences between Instagram and Snapchat. They discovered that users ages 13-to-34 still prefer the original ghost. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said Snapchat is “cooler,” 67 percent said that Snapchat had better features and if they could only have one app, 51.1 percent named Snapchat.
The disappearing photo app is still popular among college students, as well—according to a survey by online student loan marketplace, LendEDU, 58 percent of college students are checking Snapchat before Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook combined. Snapchat came in first with 58 percent followed by Instagram at 27 percent and Facebook at 13 percent.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it abundantly clear—through statements and acquisitions—that the company’s mission is to create a “video first” experience across all of its channels, from virtual reality to video games, original shows and of course, Facebook Live. Adding more video options makes sense—a recent Cisco study predicts that consumer consumption of video will constitute 80 percent of all global internet traffic by 2019.
While Facebook demands 24/7 attention from its 1.57 billion daily active users worldwide, Snapchat has an advantage that Facebook doesn’t—exclusivity. A new study by Defy Media conducted for Variety found that 30 percent of respondents prefer Snapchat because their “parents don’t use it.”
The downside to becoming a giant is that sometimes the young crowds you want to impress start rooting for the underdog.