Facebook Messenger Day: Isn’t Facebook Too Much ‘Inspired’ From Snapchat?

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Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) now has a new feature called Messenger Day, which lets users share parts of their day with their Messenger buddies, and which will disappear in 24 hours. This feature is very identical to Snapchat’s Stories feature which also offers its users the option to view their friends’ daily updates or to upload their own, visible for a duration of one day.

Facebook has maintained a seemingly subtle (or not so subtle) approach with nearly all their Snapchat-like features and continues to give no credit to Snapchat for these inspirations. Facebook’s product manager Tony Leach insisted that the inspiration for Facebook Messenger Day came “from what our friends are using and doing“.

Messenger Day comes with a host of features, most of which are also available on Snapchat. Users can customise their shares by drawing or adding text to the images. Facebook has also introduced the concept of graphic filters as suggestions. They can also show off their locations with a feature similar to Snapchat’s geofilter. Messenger Day is also characterised by plenty of prompts that allow users to share visually appealing images even if users aren’t too creative.

Facebook’s Messenger Day is presently available only in a few select countries but is set for a worldwide roll out soon. By launching in countries where Snapchat isn’t popular yet, Facebook could end up becoming the primary place that people will post daily content before they even get onto Snapchat. Further, Facebook’s Messenger, by itself, is a popular feature and will probably boost the Messenger Day feature retention and return visits internationally.

Snapchat vs. Facebook: The Tussle

Snapchat, a mobile photo messaging and multimedia sharing platform, has been active since September 2011. The app currently has over 8 billion mobile videos viewed per day, which evidently rivals Facebook’s daily video user engagement.

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, made its Wall Street debut a week back and saw its market value increase by nearly $9 billion on the first day of trading. Analysts, however, fear that Snap’s biggest concern is its competition. Ever since Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel turned down Facebook’s offer to buy out Snapchat, Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram seem to be desperate to compete by imitation.

The advantage that Facebook possesses here is its scale of operation. Facebook has access to millions of internet users who don’t yet use Snapchat, while Instagram has over 600 million users.

Another interesting aspect to consider is the demographics for both multimedia platforms.

Despite Snapchat’s user base growing fast, most of its user base is still restricted to certain nations. Further, Snapchat is still dominated by users who are under 25 years of age, with almost 23% of users who haven’t yet graduated high school. There is also more Snapchat usage among young females than males, even though the number of male users has gradually been growing.

The location demographics for Snapchat show that it has good penetration in Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, India, the United States, UAE, Canada, Belgium, U.K. and France.

Facebook, on the other hand, has over 1.86 billion monthly active users, indicating about 17% increase y-o-y. The most common age demographic for Facebook users is in the range of 25 to 34 years, at 29.7%. Further, the platform has more female users than male users, but the difference is not as significant as on Snapchat.

As for Facebook’s location demographics, it operates across all continents, with its users in Asia making up the largest portion of this demographic pie (about 33%), followed by Europe and Latin America with about 19.5%, and North America with 13.3%.

Why did Snapchat snub the Facebook $3 Billion offer?

Facebook was eager to buy Snapchat to fix the declining engagement issues it was facing with among teenage users. The company was also struggling to drive its growth by just packing advertisements into its users’ newsfeeds, having hit a saturation point. When Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel revealed why he rejected Facebook’s cash acquisition, he stated that the biggest reason for rejecting the offer was because he sensed weakness and opportunity.

Meanwhile, investors are still speculating that Facebook may continue to pursue Snapchat for an acquisition, and are awaiting a share price drop for the latter company. With what seems to be a Copy or Kill strategy that Facebook is employing against Snapchat, it is safe to assume that we may continue to see more Snapchat features being cloned by Facebook in the near future.

Facebook’s Copycat Timeline

  • The initial indication that Facebook was slowly invading Snapchat’s territory was in March 2016, when it acquired the app MSQRD. The app lets users swap faces with goofy effects, which is similar to Snapchat’s unique filters called “lenses.”
  • In April 2016, Facebook added a scannable QR code for its Messenger profiles. Again, this feature was already present on Snapchat.
  • Facebook then added a feature of Disappearing messages in the month of May, 2016. This feature was already available to Snapchat users.
  • The biggest and most glaring clone attempt by Facebook came in August 2016 when Instagram copied Snapchat’s iconic “story”. Instagram then proceeded to add updates and new features to the app, some of which were not on Snapchat.
  • Facebook even used the Snapchat Story format for its main app.
  • Facebook then proceeded to test Snapchat-like camera features over Whatsapp. It has also introduced a camera interface similar to Snapchat’s.
  • Geofilters and selfie masks for live videos is another Snapchat feature that Facebook has cloned more recently.

The Bottom Line

Facebook clearly has the advantage of reaching out to a larger, global audience than Snapchat. Whether cloning Snapchat’s features or not, it is definitely a threat to Snapchat’s growth. In the last one year, Facebook is apparently too much ‘inspired’ from snapchat, which clearly shows the strength and creative capabilities of the Snapchat team.

If you consider Snapchat’s risk factors, it competes with the likes of companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Instagram, and Twitter- all of which have greater financial and human resources, and of course, some even have larger user bases. Advertisers, however, claim that Snapchat remains unique because of its compelling USP: It is the cool, new thing and has been able to successfully tap into young people’s latest obsessions.


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