There's one thing that you can be absolutely certain of with every new social media trend these days - replication.
Any time you see a new tool, a new app, a new trending function, you can bet that other platforms will seek to copy it, in an effort to maximize their own potential, for one, but also, to limit the impact of the competition. If you can get all the latest features and tools in the app/s you already know and love, there's no need to download and check out any others, right?
Evidently that theory works, at least to some degree, as this week, reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong has found that Instagram is once again replicating a competitors' features, this time with TikTok in the firing line.
As explained by Wong, Instagram is working on a new, TikTok like tool called 'Clips':
"Just like TikTok, “Clips” allows users to record segments of videos into a single video Story. Just like TikTok, users can overlay music on clips. Just like TikTok, users can adjust the speed and timer of each video clips."
So, just as it's done with Snapchat's Stories, AR masks, YouTube, Houseparty, Squad and a range of other apps and functions, Facebook, through Instagram, is looking to add in yet another similar function in order to fend off competition, and keep its 2.7 billion active users (across its "family of apps") from straying to these shiny new offerings.
The strategy does make a lot of sense. TikTok has been steadily rising over the last year, and now claims to have more than 500 million active users, though that figure hasn't been officially updated for some time. There have also been some questions over the app's capacity to retain its users, with "a significant majority" of new users said to be abandoning the app within 30 days of downloading, and reverting back to the platforms on which they already have established friend networks.
That's where Facebook, in this case through Instagram, wins out. While new apps are able to gather attention, Instagram has over a billion users, and is available in regions where many other apps have yet to launch. By releasing copycat features, Facebook can stifle new app growth, often beating them to market in these new areas, despite its version being a copy, and maximizing their use on the platforms which users are already familiar.
Stopping users from even downloading these new apps is a key first step, so if Facebook can copy the same tools and keep users engaged, and in-app, they've already won a significant part of the battle.
As such, it's no surprise to see Instagram looking to copy TikTok, or any new app and tool. It may seem a little cheap, a little tacky even to be so blatantly copying your competition. But it clearly works. Snapchat's growth has stagnated since Instagram stole Stories, while Houseparty was sold to Epic. You may not like how Facebook goes about squeezing out smaller challengers. But it works.
But will it work for TikTok?
As noted, there are already questions about TikTok's long term viability, and the company has been secretive about its ongoing engagement stats. That would likely suggest that there is some truth to the aforementioned issues with user retention - and if people can create TikTok style clips within Instagram instead...
Replication seems like a questionable tactic, but Facebook's dominance continues to expand. There's no word, at this stage, on an official rollout of this new Instagram option.