It is no mystery that the success the few social network platforms have had over the last years is attractive to anyone within the IT industry or any onlooker with entrepreneurial ambitions. Therefore, various attempts have been made to create apps having similar widespread success to that of the BI (Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram). However, none, so far, has had the necessary stamina to keep up, apps like GoogleWave, FriendFeed and Friendster thrived for a limited period of time only to go through a downfall common to many of those who dared.
Now, what is the magic potion keeping the Big Three in their spots? Let’s break it down and look of each one separately:
Facebook defied the mantra of “first-mover advantage” to adopt that of “timing is everything”. Early social networks such as MySpace and Friendster had already conditioned consumers to the idea and possible benefits of social networking, they also provided Facebook with a list of mistakes to avoid.
The social network embraced a controlled growth stance, which benefited the platform in two ways: the no-rush attitude allowed for a robust infrastructure, and the reputation it gained by not being open for all public at once (opposed to MySpace that allowed logging for everyone who was 13 and older).
After getting the consumers to use the site, Facebook did not stop innovating but is instead incessantly working on new features, customizing the experience for individuals and using state-of-the-art technology when doing so.
Instagram came at the perfect time as young Facebook users craved a more interesting experience. As of late, the users’ demography has changed to include older generations, meaning parents and grandparents, which gave the site more of a family appeal. In turn, millennials fled the embarrassing comments to a “cooler” platform.
Instagram had grown in its consumers a sense of narcissism through the sharing of “selfies” and what not. This was nurtured by the instant gratification Instagram offered. A moving album of one’s life, ready to be liked and adored.
This app brought a significantly new concept, a much-needed one for an impatient generation: Stories. Snapchat focused on momentary and on-demand media since millennials were already used to getting the specific information they want – when they want. In addition to this, Snapchat came with a more closed following, users of this app tend to keep smaller circles than those of Facebook, instilling a sense of privacy, hence encouraging users to share.
The app brought another concept, defying the basic UX recommendation of having an “intuitive design”, to adopting a “shareable design”, this meant that the lack of intuitive gestures turns each of its users into an evangelist for the product. Generating a good feeling and flattering the ego in subtle ways.
The common factor between the Big Three is the timing, and the authenticity of the material featured. Apps that do not bring something entirely new and appealing to millennials are usually ignored by the public and faced with unresponsiveness. Even Facebook, the leading platform, is suffering from early retirement of millennials, according to findings by Pew Research, 44% of those aged 18 to 29, have deleted the app from their phone. However, Facebook is not losing in business since these same people flee towards the Facebook-owned Instagram.
Some apps are now on the rise and threatening The Big Three, Chinese-developed TikTok has overthrown Instagram in Asia, crossing the 1 Billion downloads threshold in 2018-2019. Pendse’s Genies promised to be the next big thing but it seems the company has transitioned from an app to an avatar services company instead, taking Snapchat’s BitMoji to another level.
In brief, it seems there is no way of telling whether an uprising app will take the lead in the years to come, or whether no app will measure to what the Big Three invest on making their products better. The question remains, are the Big Three now too big to fall?
Rim, Consultant, Leyton France
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