As with all social media platforms, Reddit has seen a big increase in video engagement of late, and while it may have taken a while to come to the video party, it's now looking for more ways to build on its video options in order to cater to those trends.
That's why this week, Reddit has acquired interactive video app Dubsmash, which enables users to lip-synch and dance to audio tracks, in a similar vein to TikTok.
As explained by Reddit:
"Reddit is where passionate communities come together for authentic exchanges about the topics that matter to them. Video is increasingly core to how people want to connect, and as we continue to grow our community, we’re committed to providing the best possible tools users need to find, create, and interact with one another through video."
Dubsmash has seen a resurgence in recent months, partially on the back of TikTok's growth, with the app working to transform itself from a supplementary creation tool into its own social network. Within that, Dubsmash has transitioned from a basic lip-synching app, where users can mime along to their favorite songs, to incorporate dancing, remixes and other forms of response to audio cues.
And while it may not be a major challenger to TikTok's massive growth, its usage has remained steady, with Dubsmash seeing over a billion video views per month.
The app has also proved especially popular among underrepresented communities, which Reddit notes was a key factor in the acquisition.
"About 25% of all Black teens in the US are on Dubsmash, and females represent 70% of users. About 30% of users log in every day to create video content, indicating a high level of retention and engagement."
Indeed, as per the Dubsmash listing in The App Store:
"Dubsmash’s algorithms are designed to promote creativity and diversity. We support POC creators and aim to ensure a safe environment for all communities on the app."
That's an important element for Reddit, as it seeks to open up its platform to more creators and communities, and maximize inclusion, moving away from the controversies of its part. Reddit also updated its rules around racism and hate speech earlier this year, which saw the removal of thousands of the most controversial subreddits.
But how, exactly, will Dubsmash fit into the current Reddit format?
For one, Reddit says that Dubsmash will maintain its own platform and brand, it won't be deleted and re-introduced solely within Reddit. But Reddit will seek to integrate Dubsmash into the Reddit experience - "which will empower Reddit’s own creators to express themselves in original and authentic ways that are endemic to our communities."
That will likely look similar to Reddit's current live-stream offering, RPAN, which sees in-progress live-streams inserted into user feeds. Tap through on any of those streams and you shift to a full-screen live experience, which you can swipe up to check out other in-progress broadcasts.
Reddit added its live-stream functionality for selected subreddits last August, and it's seen steady growth since.
A Reddit spokesperson told SMT that, in the function's first year, more than 291,239 live streams have been started on the platform, by more than 54,320 streamers. That underlines the rising popularity of video on the platform - while video viewing, overall, has grown 2x in 2020, Reddit says.
Initially, RPAN streams were restricted to 45 minutes, but now, users can extend the length of a stream by awarding the creator, via its 'Feed the Meter' system. That provides more incentive for creators to keep going, based on community support, while it also gives Reddit a clear pathway to monetization, which could help keep RPAN broadcasters coming back. You can see how the same could also be extended to Dubsmash clips, which will have the potential to go viral when shared among the platform's 52 million daily active users.
That, at present, seems like the most likely integration path, at least initially. But when you look at these video viewing and creation stats on balance, you can start to see where, exactly, Reddit is going with this, and how Dubsmash is actually a better fit than many might expect.
Really, with every other platform trying to keep up with the TikTok shift, it makes perfect sense for Reddit to also follow suit - but it's looking to merge more video tools into its user experience without disrupting the flow, which could be a more effective approach than, say, introducing Stories into the app. Reddit could still look to do that, inserting a row of Dubsmash creator listings at the top of the app, but it'll more likely seek to blend the clips into the current format, with a view to enhancing the user experience, rather than disrupting it.
Which may not see explosive growth straight away, but as with RPAN, over time, Reddit users will become more accustomed to it, which could help boost the platform in the long term.
As such, this could be a key acquisition as Reddit moves into its next stage.