And so, the great social media circle of life continues...
Today, Snapchat, which originally created the Stories format, which was then copied by Facebook, which originally created the News Feed, which was then copied by almost every other social app, has launched a new function called 'Spotlight', which replicates TikTok, which has gained momentum with its customized feed of short-form video clips.
It all starting to feel very familiar in the major social apps these days, isn't it?
As you can see here, Spotlight is essentially TikTok within Snapchat, with Snap looking to utilize its array of short video Snaps to re-create the TikTok experience.
Here’s what Snapchat’s Spotlight feed of short videos looks like... pic.twitter.com/ZaudyMuUFF— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) November 21, 2020
The Spotlight feed will feature a range of short video clips, both from public and private Snap accounts, with users able to submit their videos direct to the Spotlight feed for consideration.
As you can see in this GIF, the Spotlight feed will be accessible in a new fifth tab in the app, dedicated to the function - you can access Spotlight by tapping the play button icon at the bottom right.
So Snap's clearly looking to make a big push, and challenge the rise of TikTok. Taking it a step further again, Snapchat's also offering a million dollars per day in funding, which it will distribute to the best Spotlight clips. The winners will be decided based on view counts and other factors determined by the Snapchat team.
That's somewhat similar to TikTok's Creator Fund, providing financial incentive to keep users posting - and with the holidays coming up, Spotlight comes at just the right time to give Snapchat a fresh, new boost.
But will it work? Will Snapchatters warm to the new function, and become more aligned to Snapchat than TikTok for such content?
That's obviously impossible to say, but if nothing else, it will provide Snapchat with a new option for users to check out, which could boost interest.
The Spotlight feed will utilize a similar algorithm to TikTok, in ranking each individual clip based on engagement.
Snapchat says that Spotlight slips will be shown to each user based on:
- Total views
- View time (i.e. if people watch a clip through to completion)
- Favorites and Shares
And like TikTok, Because the clips are displayed in full screen, Snapchat will be able to use more specific indicators to tailor the feed to each persons' interest, making your Spotlight feed more engaging over time.
Snapchat has also released a set of guidelines on what it's looking for in Spotlight clips:
It's worth noting the limitations on music here - as you can see, Snapchat says that Spotlight clips can only use music from its licensed library to avoid any potential copyright concerns. That could limit re-posting from TikTok, which has been a common practice for those jumping into Reels on Instagram.
It's a big push from Snapchat. We've seen indicators of this coming for some time - back in July, some users saw experiments within Snapchat testing out a TikTok-style vertical feed.
Last week, more users reported seeing the Spotlight feed specifically, which has now lead to this new launch.
And it makes sense, in many ways, given the rise of short-form video clips - but as noted, it does start to make all the major social apps feel a little similar, with the same functionalities appearing in each (Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, etc.).
But then again, each app is looking to align with habitual behaviors. If users are responding to such functions, and like Snapchat, you already have a range of user-submitted clips that could fit into the same mold, and cater to that demand, why not provide the option within your own tool?
But it's pretty amazing to consider the impact that TikTok has had in this respect. Just when it seems like all the innovation is gone from social media, and the major players dominate the market, TikTok shows that there is still room for new approaches to fit in, and take over in many respects.
At first glance, Spotlight doesn't look like it will become a major challenger for TikTok, but it's impossible to say without seeing how it's developed.
It also may not have to become a significant rival for TikTok in order to be considered a success. Maybe, it'll boost engagement and interest in Snapchat, and give users more ways to share beyond their own friends, and maybe that will be enough to justify the new tab and option. You can imagine that many of Snapchat's 249 million active users will tap across to check out what's being shared in the Spotlight stream - and if enough of them keep coming back, and Snapchat can develop it, even if it's only on a comparatively small scale, that will still be a winner.
It'll be worth keeping tabs on either way - and for brands, it could be another element to factor into your planning.
Snapchat's Spotlight is now available, on both iOS and Android, in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France. It'll be made available in more regions shortly.