Why Instagram Steals Ideas From Snapchat

We heard it a lot in 2017 from media outlets. Instagram was constantly looking to Snapchat for new ideas.

Or, borrowed ideas, I should say.

It left many asking, is Zuckerberg out of tricks? Do the great minds at Facebook really have no better ideas than the ones already introduced by Snapchat? While some called for the end of fresh ideas at Facebook, others were calling for the steam-rolling of Snapchat which led to a bumpy year on Wall Street for Snap.

In hindsight, both groups of people were wrong.

Snapchat is still here, and Facebook still has plenty of fresh ideas. We discuss their introduction and the implications of the new features every week on the Mind Your Marketing podcast — and literally, every week without fail Facebook has something new up their sleeve. Snapchat usually does too, for that matter.

Why then, was Facebook so dead set on cloning some of Snapchat’s major features in 2017? Let’s break it down into three major reasons.

1. To Stay Young

The pressure to stay young is real for social networks. Facebook is trying to find its way to Neverland, and Snapchat was holding the map. It only makes sense that Facebook would look at Snapchat’s best features — the ones that bring back their young audience multiple times a day — and introduce them slowly into Instagram. While they haven’t been successful on platforms like Facebook itself, Instagram has flourished in 2017, with more than 500 million daily active users and 300 million daily active users of Instagram Stories. They’ve attracted a younger audience very quickly by stealing the best of Snapchat.

2. In Much of The World, Facebook is First

This is key. Snapchat takes such high-bandwidth to operate that it’s just not taking hold outside of North America and Europe. The features that Facebook has copied and introduced into Instagram don’t seem like copies in regions where Snapchat can’t exist yet. If Snapchat wants to compete globally, they’ll need to address this in 2018.

3. Wouldn’t You Rather Be Second?

Malcolm Gladwell famously stated, “Wouldn’t you rather be second or third, see how the first guy did…and then improve it?”

For Facebook, it was much easier to watch Snapchat, see how teens were interacting with the app, and adjust. After many attempts and fails including the infamous “Slingshot” app, Facebook became more strategic. As Facebook’s first major investor, Peter Thiel writes in Zero to One, “Moving first is a tactic, not a goal.” When Facebook looks back on 2017 and their feature implementation in regards to Instagram, they’ll be happy to see that their new tactics have paid off.

This was originally discussed on the Mind Your Marketing Podcast, where hosts Justin Kerby and Jordan Scheltgen discuss all of the latest marketing news and trending ads every week.