Social media has become an essential part of our life. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a restaurant without Wi-Fi, an individual without a cell phone or even a cell phone without social media apps.
Different social media apps emerge over time, each of them leading a new trend in the social-media scene, until the next “star” app renders them obsolete. Have you ever wondered why this happens? Why is Snapchat so popular compared to the other similar apps such as what’s app and LINE? And how does our views affect changes in the social media scene?
Image Source: CNBC
In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with the belief that people wanted to share their lives with the public. It was first exclusively used by students in Harvard University, but soon grew in popularity among the public.
Part of Facebook’s success can be attributed to people’s willingness to share their life with others. Why are people so eager to post everything on Facebook? It seems that people have a strong need for relatedness, which is considered the nature of human beings by some scholars. By posting and commenting on texts and pictures, people can easily create connection between one another. In this way, Facebook becomes popular by satisfying our needs.
Instagram was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, both graduates of Stanford University, in 2010. Within two years, Instagram gained over 100 million active users and the number kept growing rapidly after that. It became so successful that it attracted the attention of Facebook, the leading social media platform at the time. Instagram was acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for about US$1 billion and grew even faster afterwards.
Social media is generally more popular among the young generation; Instagram is no exception. 55% of teenagers between 18 to 29 years old use Instagram frequently, while only 28 per cent of adults from 30 to 49 years old use Instagram.
“Our goal is to not just be a photo-sharing app, but to be the way you share your life when you’re on the go,” ~ Kevin Systrom
In my opinion, the success of Instagram originates from the fact that the emphasis is on the visuals. Visuals are more powerful than texts to a certain extent. According to research studies, 90% of the information we receive to our brains is visual and 93% of our communication is nonverbal.
For most people, photos are far more attractive than text because it is easier for human beings to “read” photos than to read text. Therefore, Instagram becomes more and more attractive among the public.
Image Source: TechCrunch
In July 2011, just one year after the creation of Instagram, Snapchat was launched as an iOS-only app from Evan Spiegel’s home. Evan Spiegel and Reggie Brown were students at Stanford University at that time. They first created Picaboo, a selfie app, for a class assignment. Bobby Murphy, their friend, later joined the group to write the source code for the app. Picaboo turned into Snapchat later and became popular especially among teenagers. Facebook offered three billion dollars to purchase Snapchat in November 2013. However, it refused the offer from Facebook and has now become the third most popular social app.
I believe that Snapchat became popular because of its focus on visuals, giving people an alternative to texting. As I have explained in the section of Instagram, visuals are more powerful than texts to a certain extent. What’s more, photos only show for a few second and then delete themselves. This unique function gives some people a feeling of security and excitement, bringing more popularity to the app.
Competitions do exist between these social media apps. For example, Instagram is currently competing with Snapchat with the introduction of Instagram Stories. It mimics some of Snapchat’s features and has become a powerful weapon for Facebook to ease the popularity of Snapchat. Though Instagram Stories fails to match the quality of Snapchat Story, it is still a good strategy because the goal is to hinder your competitor’s future growth, not steal what they have already gained.
By analyzing the changing platforms of social media, we are able to gain some insights of the nature and preference of human beings. Try to observe and analyze the trends surrounding social media apps, maybe… you will be the founder or co-founder of the next popular social media platform.