Snapchat pioneered the Stories format for sharing disappearing photos and videos. Now, the corporation, like Facebook, is predicting that the future of social media will be more like TikTok.
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said in remarks to investors for the company’s quarterly earnings report on Thursday that people are spending less time in the app watching Stories from friends, despite the company’s hopes that Stories engagement would increase as pandemic lockdowns eased and people began to leave their homes more. Instead, Snapchat users are flocking to Spotlight, Snapchat’s TikTok competitor for watching viral videos shared by random creators, and its Discover area for premium shows.
“This is a continuation of the trend we’ve seen during the pandemic, and daily active user friend story posting and viewing haven’t restored to pre-pandemic levels,” Spiegel told investors. “While we expect that our community will eventually revert to the friend story behaviors that we saw before the pandemic, we’re focused on innovating on our content offerings to best serve our community now.”
While Snap hasn’t specified how the updates to its content area would look, it’s easy to see the tab opening to fullscreen videos from Spotlight producers, with the option to go further into longer Discover programs, similar to how TikTok does.
Some Spotlight makers already have recurring shows in the app, which supports “our vision of Spotlight as a platform where audiences can discover new Creators, themes, and communities, and then engage with them more extensively on Discover,” according to Spiegel.
This week, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook parent company Meta, called TikTok a serious danger. “People have a lot of options for how they want to spend their time,” he said on Meta’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday. “Apps like TikTok are developing extremely quickly.”
Unlike Snap, which is continuously growing its user base and generating higher-than-expected revenue, Meta’s earnings report this week disappointed investors, wiping away more than $200 billion of its market value in a single day, breaking the previous record set in 2018.
While Snap and Meta’s financial results are public, it’s worth noting that they both consider TikTok as a competitor. New forms that are visually appealing, such as Stories or the TikTok video stream, have the potential to quickly change user attention. Snap pioneered a now-ubiquitous format, but it and Meta are now fighting catch-up.