Should Snapchat Be Worried About Facebook?

Posted January 23, 2014 by Marc Fischman (@marcf)
If you ask the average teen what social media channels they use to communicate with their friends, the answer will most likely be Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine. (If you thought 140 characters was brief – try a 6 second disappearing message or 16 second video!)

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The fact is: social media is evolving at an alarming rate with attention shifting to new platforms all the time.

So what does that mean for the 800 pound gorilla in the room?

Many argue that Facebook is losing its relevancy. I say, hold on, not so fast. Yes, users are spending less time on Facebook’s web properties than they were a year ago – but with Facebook’s 1Billion+ users, the platform is not going away. Instagram and Facebook’s mobile properties are proving to be more and more lucrative.  In fact, they account for 50% of daily photos shared, with Snapchat accounting for the other 50%.  

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In my history of working in social media, we have seen trends come and go, but platforms are very difficult to kill. It’s true, we have seen AOL and Myspace become irrelevant, but that was because of lack of innovation while other platforms around them like Skype and Facebook were taking over their market share of their core products. AOL lost focus when they merged with Time Warner and News Corp’s acquisition of Myspace killed the innovation that made Myspace so attractive to teens of the 2000’s. 

When Facebook saw a company like Twitter attracting more attention than them in 2010, they redesigned their newsfeed to be more Twitter-like, and it worked. For a while I thought Facebook sealed Twitter’s fate, but now Twitter seems to be making a comeback. With that said, Facebook isn’t sitting still. They have added more Twitter functionality into their site with Graph Search and now they are adding trending topics.

Snapchat may have the teens, but Facebook has the money and is going after Snapchat with Instagram direct. And on that note, buying Instagram (where most claimed it was an overpriced mistake at the time), is looking like one of the best things Facebook ever did. Many teens don’t even realize that Instagram is owned by Facebook. The point here is that Facebook will innovate or replicate if needed in order to crush their competition. 

Facebook has money. They IPO’d and they have much more revenue than any of their other social competitors. Google is still a search company; as much as they would like to play in the social space, Google+ is not a threat to Facebook. Money is power and Facebook can buy all of their competitors if they really want to, with the exception of Twitter. If they can’t buy, then they will replicate the competitor until they are no longer relevant. We saw Facebook do that to Foursquare when advertisers were all about local advertising on Foursquare, Facebook launched Facebook places, and when Groupon was stealing the show, Facebook launched Facebook deals. If Snapchat is a fad, teens will get sick of it; but if not, Facebook with their Instagram Direct will begin to pose a serious threat to Snapchat. 

Facebook owns the communication channel between consumers and brands. Coca-Cola will not let their 70 million fans on their fan page go to waste. If anything, the brands that have amassed these astonishing and costly followings on Facebook will keep bringing their consumers back into Facebook. 

Facebook is an 800 lb. gorilla and like advertising legend Jerry Shereshewsky says … “If you’re a gorilla and you see a chimpanzee, YOU EAT IT.”

Snapchat should be worried.