Snapchat’s Latest Features May Be Its Saving Grace

It’s no surprise that Snapchat has seen a difficult few months, with competing platforms such as Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook mimicking (and in some cases improving) its main features. But Snapchat certainly isn’t going down without a fight. Introducing Snapchat World Lenses and Custom Stories.

1. World Lenses

Snapchat’s popularity skyrocketed after the addition of its face filters. More recently however, the app introduced World Lenses, which is certain to pique user’s interests again. These live filters/lenses allow users to add augmented reality elements to their surroundings. This groundbreaking innovation is tonnes of fun as it not only allows users to overlay 3D elements in their world, but you can actually walk around the object to see it from different angles!

This feature is already available to experience yourself. Simply use the rear-facing camera, tap the screen once and select the World Lense you’d like to use. It’s that simple!

The best (and most fun) way to learn is to try it out for yourself, but if you’d like a bit more info, check out the video below:

2. Custom Stories

Today Snapchat announced its latest feature called ‘Custom Stories’. This feature allows multiple users to add images and videos to one story. Custom Stories are intended for collaborators to document specific occasions or periods, and to share their experiences with their viewers. After losing some individuals to the likes of Instagram Stories, this is a clever tactic as it encourages users to involve others, which will likely increase the number of active Snapchat users.

There are two ways of using Custom Stories. Users can add others to a Custom Story to either contribute or watch the stories. Alternatively, a user can create a geofence that allows friends of friends located in the same area to contribute to the same snap pool. As Darrell Etherington from TechCentral points out, this is “super useful in settings like weddings where the people you’re hanging out with might not be part of your actual Snapchat friends group.”

While mainly for shorter periods of time, Custom Stories can last as long as you want them to, disappearing only if no one has contributed to them in the past 24 hours.

Final Thoughts

While Snap Inc is still recovering after going public and the platform is desperately trying to fight off competition, these two additions are pretty good attempts at staying relevant. One could argue that the World Lenses are a bit gimmicky, but the addition of Custom Stories might just do the trick to put Snapchat back on the map. That is, if Facebook doesn’t adopt the idea in the next couple of weeks…

References and Additional Reading

Facebook’s 5 New Copycat Features

Certain features and capabilities on the various social channels are bound to be similar. Although some overlap here and there in terms of what these platforms provide is to be expected, there are differentiators that give them a competitive edge. While there will always be competition, recently Facebook has aggressively been taking inspiration from other social media platforms to add to its own offerings.

Here is a brief look at how Facebook has been evolving over the past few weeks.

1 – Job Postings

News that Facebook was experimenting with a job posting feature came to light in early November, which poses a direct threat to the likes of LinkedIn, Jobscore and Workable. The feature allows page admins of business pages to drive traffic to their Facebook Page via the News Feed in the hope of recruiting new staff members. These positions will also be available via a Jobs tab on the business’ Facebook page. Users will then be able to apply via Facebook without having to type out all the specifics, as Facebook already has most of this information.

2 – Instagram Stories

Facebook-owned Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, which is basically the main point of Snapchat. Igers can now post photos and videos that expire after 24 hours. Users can apply filters, add text and draw over their content, much the same like Snapchat offers. Disappearing messages to other users is also now a feature. In addition, Instagram gives you the ability to tag people in your stories, which is not offered on Snapchat. Stories does not (yet) allow users to add filters that recognise facial features, however, Facebook has used facial recognition for years, particularly when posting photos, so it’s only a matter of time.

3 – Live Video Filters

There was much excitement about being able to use artistic filters in Facebook’s Live streaming thanks to third-party company, Prisma. This was short-lived as Facebook quickly blocked the app from being able to access its Live API as it did not comply with Facebook’s terms and conditions. The main reason was that the API is only for publishing live video from non-mobile devices such as professional cameras and drones. It has been argued that this is purely a bully tactic as Facebook is working on a style transfer filter feature of its own.

4 – Facebook ‘Collections’

Social media has become a popular source of information and news. The topic of fake news has been a hot topic lately as users consume news from media sources that seem to be legitimate, only to discover that the content is false. The repercussions of this on society and perceptions is a concern for many, including Facebook. The social brand has joined a network of more than 30 international media companies and organisations to filter out fake news and improve the quality of information being shared. Much like Snapchat’s Discover feature, ‘Collections‘ will be curated information from select media partners, inserted directly into users’ News Feeds.

5 – Instant Games

Facebook has just launched Instant Games, which enables users to play games against their friends via Facebook Messenger, however, WeChat has been offering this feature for years. The games will be available for Android and iOS users and will first roll out to 30 countries. The main reason for this feature is to encourage users to discover, share and play games without having to install new apps.

Despite having 1.79 billion active monthly users, Facebook is clearly doing all it can to be ubiquitous. Will any other social platform ever be as agile as the social network giant, or do any of them even stand a chance? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

References & Additional Reading