“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
Those were the words written by American author Herman Melville, but it seems that Mark Zuckerberg would disagree. In fact, the battle of new tools for Snapchat and Instagram rages on, and this time it looks like copying will beat out inventing. Since Stories was added to Instagram last summer, the social network with the little ghost has been feeling the pressure of competition from its rival. But how has Instagram managed to be so successful just by copying an existing idea? The answer may actually be simpler than the question. This time, numbers count.
Mark Zuckerberg loves copying, and no one does it better
For a while now, the platforms owned by Zuckerberg have taken inspiration from Snapchat, bringing in new tools and improving on them. Stories (content that’s only available for a short time) were the first step – Snapchat users loved the feature because it gave the social network a unique identity that stood out from the competition, just as filters and stickers have done.
Since last summer, copying ideas in order to enhance Instagram with the latest trending features has almost seemed like a game to Zuckerberg. And it’s not just about Stories. The latest update even lets you add filters to photos and videos in augmented reality, another function that was originally invented by Evan Spiegel who, if you didn’t know, is the creator of Snapchat. The result is that shares in Spiegel’s company drop in value, and it now has to reinvent its added value, it’s strengths and unique selling points that could steal users away from Zuckerberg’s giant.
Personalized stickers and video rewind: Instagram leaves Snapchat in the dust
With the release of version 10.21, after adding the much-loved geostickers, Instagram has also made new digital stickers available. And it’s added other fun features, like the “eraser brush”, which lets you paint over an entire image in one color, then erase sections to reveal the photo underneath. But the most popular feature is still stickers for adding personalized hashtags on your photos.
Rewind mode is another in-demand feature, letting you post videos that play backwards. And Stories now offers a replay option so you can share live videos after they’re done recording. We didn’t have to wait for Snapchat’s last-ditch effort: hence the release of Snap Maps. This lets you share your position in real time, and see where your friends are through virtual avatars. But how does it really work? From Snapchat’s camera, you choose the contacts you want to share with (or you can enable “ghost mode” to stay hidden), and then you can see what they’re doing and who’s nearby if you want to meet up in person.
No competition when there’s a billion users on your side
This brings up a question… how is Mark Zuckerberg’s social network able to do so well by copying other people’s ideas so shamelessly? It’s obvious – he can do it because he has more followers. Because the real clash of these titans isn’t in the realm of ideas, but in the race for gaining more users and finding ways to engage them. That’s why Instagram had a head start, since it already had the numbers of Facebook behind it.
So it seems clear that Mark Zuckerberg is winning yet another battle, with Snapchat clearly in its crosshairs. In fact, it seems like the inventor of Facebook couldn’t stand the idea that very young people prefer a social network that’s more fun and bubbly than his established brand. Since he couldn’t beat Shapchat with Facebook, be brought Instagram into the mix.
And the results show that he was right: Instagram Stories have gained more than 200 million active users per day. Just consider that all told, in Snapchat’s first trimester of 2017, it topped out at 166 million users with a 40% drop in views. And of course, if we’re looking at the numbers, there’s no competition – Shapchat commands 158 million active users a day, while Messenger alone has a billion users around the world.
Maybe Mark likes an easy win?