TikTok has changed social media in a way not seen since Snapchat - Dexerto
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TikTok has changed social media in a way not seen since Snapchat

Published: 27/Nov/2021 18:00

by Georgina Smith

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Spotify is the latest in a long line of apps to experiment with TikTok-style features, attempting to capitalize on the platform’s sudden overwhelming popularity — but can TikTok ever be beaten at its own game?

In late November, it was reported that music streaming platform Spotify had started testing a new feature for the app — the Discover page.

Notably, the tab is very similar to the nature of TikTok’s own ‘For You Page,’ in that users are able to scroll through a feed of vertical music videos which they can like or skip.

The feature is only being tested currently, so whether it is rolled out on a global scale remains to be seen, but it’s the latest in a series of moves from companies to adopt features similar to TikTok in an attempt to capitalize on its enormous popularity.

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Instagram is one key example. In July, Instagram head Adam Mosseri revealed that the app was “no longer a photo-sharing app, or a square photo-sharing app,” and announced that the company would be pivoting to a video-based model instead, citing TikTok as one of its biggest competitors. This attempt has been evidenced through the platform’s focus on their TikTok style ‘Reels’ feature.

YouTube is another platform that launched its own ‘Shorts’ feature earlier in 2021, joining other companies in placing emphasis on short-form vertical video content.

TikTok’s popularity has been rapid and overpowering, and with its extraordinary influence on pop culture and the entertainment industry, it’s no wonder that other apps are trying to keep up with this key rival.

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With the attempts certain platforms are making to emulate TikTok, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to the rise of the multimedia instant messaging app, Snapchat.

The platform became popular for the ability to send messages that disappear once read, and especially for its ‘Story’ feature that was added in 2013, quickly becoming the app’s most used element.

It was so popular, in fact, that countless other platforms decided that they wanted to capitalize on it, with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even TikTok adding their own similar features over the years.

Snapchat has by no means dropped off entirely as a result of this. As of July 2021, it had 293 million daily active users, which was a 23% growth from the previous year, marking its most impressive growth in several years.

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Snapchat on the app store
Unsplash: May Gauthier
Snapchat inspired several other platforms to adopt the ‘Stories’ feature.

But while its userbase is growing, it arguably doesn’t have the influence it once did. As it’s an app essentially built around one or two key features, now that other platforms have extracted what they want from it, it no longer necessarily exists as a threat.

However, TikTok is posing a much bigger problem than Snapchat in terms of competition. Because while TikTok has features that’s it’s recognized for, such as its vertical infinite scroll feed, its popularity is a lot less tangible than a few concrete features.

TikTok has ultimately become a hub of viral culture. From dances and viral sounds to inside jokes and trends, the app has become an intricate ecosystem of a whole host of different communities across the globe. That is a much harder phenomenon to replicate.

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There’s a theory among many internet users that a social media platform is dying when a bulk of its viral content is made up of reuploads of posts that originally went viral elsewhere. Instagram’s Reels feature is often flooded with recycled TikTok content, meaning that people will increasingly be inclined to skip the middle man and go straight to TikTok to find the videos where they are originally posted.

Instagram Reels on a phone
Instagram
Functionally, Reels are very similar to TikTok.

Of course, Spotify isn’t trying to become TikTok, given that the platforms serve entirely separate purposes. In fact, their use of a TikTok-style feed could ultimately prove to be a good thing for music consumers, as the FYP is clearly a comfortable way for people to view content via their smartphones.

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However, the fact that so many platforms are adapting, or even completely pivoting their models to emulate the app is evidence of just how powerful TikTok is, and just how much of a threat it’s becoming competition-wise.

Like Snapchat, TikTok has tapped into a method of content consumption and communication that clearly resonates with internet users, but unlike Snapchat, it looks like they will only continue to become bigger competition.