Okay, this is getting ridiculous now.
Less than two months on from the release of Instagram Stories, and following the launch of a similar, Snapchat-like feature for WhatsApp, Facebook is again testing out a new Snapchat clone, this time within Messenger.
Looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it? As reported by TechCrunch, this new option, called ‘Messenger Day’, is being tested in Poland only, enabling Messenger users in that nation to share images and videos that disappear within 24 hours.
How familiar does it look? Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the composition screens on Snapchat, Instagram Stories, WhatsApp’s new drawing feature and Messenger Day.
As you can see, all the functional formatting and options are very similar between the four – and that makes sense, as they’re all essentially copying Snapchat, which Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has admitted, at least in the case of his platform. But as noted, it’s getting a bit ridiculous, right? Facebook’s just blatantly pushing Snapchat-like functionality out to their users in any format they can in order to curb Snapchat’s growth. Blatant. Ridiculous. But it’s pretty likely, also, that it’ll work.
This is where Facebook’s “Stories” strategy gets more interesting – you see, while Snapchat is hugely popular in some regions, it’s not so well-known in others.
For example, here’s a slide TechCrunch obtained from a presentation deck Snapchat was showing investors near the end of 2015.
While Snapchat has a heap of daily active users in North America (that number was more recently reported at 60 million), they don’t have so many in the rest of the world. And suddenly, Facebook’s decision to launch Messenger Day in Poland makes perfect sense.
According to research published earlier this year, 84% of Polish smartphone owners use Facebook Messenger.
Notice how Snapchat’s not even listed on that chart?
Even more, according to eMarketer, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are the two most popular messaging apps in the world, with Snapchat well behind on a global scale.
eMarketer also notes that Messenger will have 105.2 million daily active users in the US this year – that means that of Messenger’s more than 1 billion daily active users, the vast majority are outside America, the opposite of Snapchat’s user spread.
In this respect, Facebook’s adaptation of the ‘Stories’ format is not so much to kill off Snapchat, as many had speculated, but to slow them – and by using the strategy of showing Stories to people who’ve never seen the original version on Snapchat, they’re actually countering the threat of Evan Spiegel’s upstart before they’ve even had a chance to gain traction. To these users, Stories will be synonymous with Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, not Snapchat where it actually began.
Along this line, reports suggest that Instagram Stories is booming in markets like Russia, where Snapchat adoption is low.
One feature that is unique to Messenger Day. however, is the addition of share suggestion filters. Instead of adding image overlays triggered by geography or an event, Facebook’s looking to use filters to help prompt users on what to share.
It’s an interesting consideration – will users be more enticed to share images, on Messenger in particular, that highlight how they’re feeling or to prompt action from those who you share it with, like “who’s up for a road trip?” Messenger is, of course, where people tend to share more personal interactions and updates, so it could work in line with that behavior.
And as much as Facebook is copying Snapchat, really, more than anything they’re just working to give users what they want. Social storytelling has become a significant trend, stringing together several images and videos from your day into a longer narrative than a single post – even Twitter’s now getting in on this with the introduction of personalized moments earlier this week. Live-streaming also works in line with this – people gravitate towards the communication methods that best enable them to share their perspective and experience. At the moment, social stories are just that, while virtual reality will likely be the next big step.
There’s no indication, as yet, that Messenger Day will ever make it beyond Polish borders, it may be a feature that remains targeted to specific regions as opposed to becoming a new, full-scale Messenger option, but either way, it’s interesting to note how Facebook is looking to utilize stories in order to curb Snapchat’s appeal and nullify them as a significant threat to their user base.
That’s not to say Facebook will ever eliminate Snapchat completely, but that’s likely not the intention. Stunting their growth may be all Facebook needs to do to solidify their market position.