I don’t know if you can remember some years back when every social media platform was different. Not only did each have its own unique approach, each also targeted diverse groups of people. Or at least that’s how it felt back then. Until something happened and then suddenly innovation died and each company decided, you know what, let’s copy the heck out of each other’s most used features.
No one wanted to be left behind on any feature that would grab the most users. So here we are in 2021, a weird place where every social media platform resembles the other: Stories at the top, algorithmically curated scrolling feeds, some private messaging section, hashtags here and there, and different tabs to switch between.
It seems like we’ve hit a dead end in terms of uniqueness.
Instagram is no longer for photos only. It is now a shop, a YouTube competitor, a place where Tiktoks die, a live-streaming site, a place for discovering music, and much, much more.
Facebook is now boring with its only saving grace being that almost everyone opened a profile long ago, and they have old friends and older people they need to catch up with. But it also has stories, videos, original shows, pages to meet celebrities, public and private groups where the party is at, shops where you can buy literally anything from pets to cars, rentals, and so much more.
Twitter is no longer just about some short texts called tweets. There are now threads, stories called fleets, live streams, newsletters, audio tweets, branded emojis and more. The company is also currently testing Spaces (a rip off of Clubhouse – a weird audio only social media platform), and Super Follow – which will make the platform sort of like Patreon and OnlyFans.
So what happens next?
Well, who knows? Maybe TikTok wins? Maybe we go back to the past where each platform was unique? Or maybe each platform keeps trying to outdo the other forever and ever!
If you’ve never used TikTok, you have probably seen clips from the platform. They’re everywhere! You probably see them on your WhatsApp statuses everyday, on your Twitter feed, on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook… literally everywhere!
This is something no other platform can boast of. (Perhaps only twitter comes close with its viral tweets and threads). The crazy thing is that TikTok is unlike all other platforms. You don’t need to create an account to use the app. You just download it and boom, you’ll be scrolling forever and ever, laughing and crying, and being amazed by what different humans are creating or doing. These are 30sec to 1min clips remember.
Not so many months ago, Facebook decided to copy TikTok’s format, and Reels was born on Instagram. Currently though, almost every Reel you see is a reuploaded TikTok video, so maybe it won’t work out for Facebook in the end. But who knows? It worked well for them when they copied and almost killed Snapchat…
What about Clubhouse? It is currently an audio-only, invite-only, iOS-only app. Literally the approach here is to have people join a room and talk about different topics. There are speakers and listeners, and each room deals with different stuff from tech to entertainment. And that’s it! But funny enough, it seems to have taken off!
Prominent figures including, Elon Musk, have been on the platform. The day Elon was on, Clubhouse’s limits were reached forcing users to stream the session on YouTube. If someone pitched such an idea a few years back, it would seem crazy. But now, there’s a proof of concept, and everyone seems to want a slice of this audio only approach.
Twitter is already copying the concept with its upcoming Spaces. And so is Instagram with its upcoming Live Rooms. Does Clubhouse stand a chance given that they’re still a small platform that’s only available on iOS and only via invites?
For TikTok, perhaps the idea that anyone can go viral is what will keep the platform alive even when Facebook pours billions to try and do the same thing. For Clubhouse, maybe the interface that’s far different and unique from what Twitter or Instagram could ever do is what will keep them going.
And for us the users, whose attention is being fought for fiercely, perhaps the future of social media will be switching between what’s popular at the time.