Remember the days when could only post a status on Facebook and Instagram was just for photos? Now we live in a world of filters, stickers, live streams, and so much more. As new technologies develop, we often see different social networks start offering the same features. As they duke it out for market share, usually we’ll see one network pull ahead (often leading to the demise of the other).
Below we’ll take a look at how some of the top social networks battled it out in 2016, and who we think reigns supreme. Do you agree with our rulings?
This year, Snapchat really caught its stride as the social network to be on, but in August Instagram Stories launched and shots were fired. Both platforms now offered a way for users to share photos and videos that together formed a “story” and would disappear after 24 hours.
As an avid Instagram user, I was a little skeptical of Stories initially. Did I really care to see the unpolished behind-the-scenes lives of my favorite tastemakers? Not really. Except slowly that changed. I had a larger following on Instagram, and eventually it just didn’t make sense to go somewhere else for a similar functionality. At launch, Instagram Stories was a bit more pared down, with a common complaint being that fun filters, one of Snapchat’s major draws wasn’t present. But with the recent addition of stickers, emojis, and holiday themed pens, we can most likely expect to see something rivaling filters on the platform soon.
Winner: Snapchat (for now). With 150 million daily users, compared to Instagram Stories’ 100 million daily users (the overall platform sees 500 million active users monthly), Snapchat has already surpassed other top networks (ahem, Twitter). But as Instagram continues to roll out new features for Stories, Snapchat may find it increasingly difficult to compete. Over time, users may also find it easier to leverage their existing (likely larger) audience on Instagram, rather than build one from scratch on Snapchat.
Live streaming isn’t a new concept, but in recent years, various social networks have brought streaming capability right to users’ social feeds. In 2015, Meerkat, launched as the newest social media darling, but just a few short weeks later, Twitter announced their acquisition of competing app Periscope. Meerkat really never stood a chance, and Periscope dominated, with the support of Twitter. But now in 2016, it has Facebook Live to contend with. Initially launched just for celebrities with verified accounts, Facebook rolled out its live stream feature to all users and pages this year, giving all users the ability to stream live video straight from their mobile app. One of the immediate differences between Facebook Live and Periscope was that Facebook Live videos were saved under a page’s video tab indefinitely after the live stream concluded, whereas Periscope videos were only available for viewing for 24 hours. Periscope adjusted though and started allowing users the option to post their videos more permanently earlier this year. And now, just a few weeks ago, Instagram Stories launched a live stream feature, but being part of Stories, the videos vanish after 24 hours.
Winner: Facebook Live. Facebook has a built-in audience (1.71 billion monthly active users) that consumes video at a very rapid rate – 500 million people are watching Facebook videos each day. With research showing that Facebook Live videos are watched 3x longer than regular videos, the numbers don’t lie. Periscope, on the other hand, has reported 200 million live streams in their first year. Additionally, though Periscope is integrated with Twitter, it does still require a separate app, while users can stream directly on Facebook from their mobile app – these small differences in ease of use can make a difference for users. For Instagram Stories Live, it’s just too soon to tell - but with Instagram being part of the Facebook family, there’s not really much of a battle there anyway.
Notice a theme here? The Facebook family of products is definitely dominating and many have lauded their “copycat strategy.” Will they continue to lead the pack in 2017? Only time can tell.