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Snapchat may be the most buzzed-about social media platform these days, especially after its big-time IPO, but it looks like all of its social media rivals are ramping up their efforts to create their own Snapchat clones. What all these efforts have in common is a push into making the smartphone camera the starting point for creating great social media content. In fact, Snap (the owner of Snapchat) now prefers to identify itself as a camera company rather than a social media company.
Facebook vs. Snapchat
Facebook has been most aggressive about taking on Snapchat. Back in August 2016, the company helped Instagram launch Instagram Stories, which were very similar to Snapchat stories. That helped to blunt some of Snapchat’s momentum, as young social media users suddenly had a second new way to share their video stories. (Plus, Instagram was much more advertiser-friendly than Snapchat.)
And Facebook has been steadily chipping away at Snapchat ever since. First, it started adding some Snapchat-like functionality to Messenger. And, at the end of March, Facebook launched Facebook Stories. This is exactly what it sounds like – a total clone of Snapchat Stories that lives within the Facebook mobile app. When it finishes rolling out to everyone, you will see Facebook Stories at the top of your newsfeed. And, just like on Snapchat, these Stories will disappear after 24 hours.
Apple vs. Snapchat
But it’s not just Facebook that’s making noise in this area. Don’t forget about Apple – just a week before Facebook announced its Facebook Stories update, Apple announced the imminent rollout of Clips, a new iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects and graphics.
What’s unique about Apple’s Clips app (set to debut in April) is that it’s not linked to any major social network. It is, at its core, a video-making app where you shoot a video, and then add all kinds of filters, posters, and overlays. It’s a slick production tool, and at the end of creating a video, you can then share it via Messages (Apple’s messaging app), or you can post it to a social network like Instagram or Snapchat.
What a camera-first world looks like
So Apple – unlike Facebook – doesn’t view its new launch as a competitor product to Snapchat. It’s more of a complementary app. If the filters, effects and overlays are good enough and cool enough, then all the “cool kids” could abandon the big social media networks as the starting point for their creative endeavors. The onus is on Apple right now to create the kind of features that no other app or social network has and convince them to make Clips a new starting point.
Case in point – Apple unveiled “Live Titles” which is a cool way to add animated captions to a video just by talking into your iPhone. And then, once you’re done adding captions, you can add as many filters and emoji as you want. When that creative process is done, you can message it to all of your friends.
The changing nature of the mobile social network
Something very interesting is happening. The camera is now disrupting the traditional social network. It’s the same battle over content and distribution that has occurred elsewhere in the digital space, as companies compete to see who owns the customer. And now every social network needs to become a camera-first social network. Apparently, it’s a game that both Facebook and Apple think that they can win.