Has WhatsApp Become the New Snapchat Copycat?

November 9, 2016

Have you heard the latest word on the mobile app block? Facebook-owned WhatsApp is trialling a new feature that is eerily similar to Snapchat Stories.

The experimental feature is a neat little tab labelled ‘Status’ that slots in between WhatsApp’s standard ‘Chats’ and ‘Calls’ functions. In a nutshell, ‘Status’ enables users to share images complete with doodles and text captions, which then automatically delete after 24 hours – just like Snapchat Stories. Although only existing in beta mode at the moment with no clear indication of which lucky users will get a chance to trial the feature, its similarities to Snapchat are likely to reap in the fans (not to mention that priceless publicity).

Another Facebook family member joins the Snapchat trend

Unless you’ve been living in a digital-free zone (which, let’s face it, is near impossible these days), you’ll be well aware that Instagram rolled out its own version of Snapchat Stories a few months ago. Like Instagram, WhatsApp has been acquired by the largest and most influential social media network in the world: Facebook. And, just like any successful tech company, Facebook doesn’t play shy when it comes to acknowledging genius ideas and applying them to their own products.

While some may brush this kind of behaviour off as plagiarism, this is often exactly what lies at the very heart of innovation. Just take a moment to consider the number of mobile apps that have risen to success by borrowing ideas from their predecessors. Recycled concepts are all a part of the digital game – after all, innovation doesn’t necessarily mean generating completely fresh ideas; sometimes it’s simply about improving upon existing ones.

What do people love about Snapchat?

Did you know that Facebook actually attempted to buy out Snapchat in 2013 for an impressive $3 billion, but was turned down? The app was only two years old at the time, but already considered its net worth to sit at around $4 billion.

With more than 100 million daily users, it’s clearly a fiercely successful app that just seemed to tick all the right boxes right from the get-go. But just what is it about this simple photo-sharing platform that has elevated it to its glorified status? Let’s take a squiz…

Performance pressure is reduced – unlike other social media apps, Snapchat isn’t about garnering likes and comments (insert: “Oh BABE! You look saaaaah hot in that selfie xx!”). This means people aren’t put off by the fear that they won’t reach that ‘minimum standard’ of public approval, and are therefore more likely to engage with the tool.

Interactions are more candid and authentic – Instagram and Facebook are famous for erecting a carefully-curated image of yourself. This is time-consuming and involves a fair amount of effort. The ephemeral nature of Snapchat, on the other hand, breaks down those inhibitions to encourage users to document ‘live coverage’ that will self-destruct in mere seconds or a day’s time.

It’s super easy (and fun) to use – the number of geofilters and stickers available to Snapchat users makes it an insanely popular app. In a heavily-visual society, everyone wants the opportunity to brand their experiences with their own graphic personal touch – Snapchat lets its users do this with a fistful of creativity.

So, to boil it down, Snapchat has the rare ability to deliver transient messages that won’t come back to haunt users in 10 years’ time. In a world built upon archived text, images and videos, this is something people are naturally going to latch onto – and it’s no wonder that other networks want a slice of this success.