Google lost the social fight, good or bad – that’s just a fact at this point.
Facebook won the social fight, and as of last week, firing on all cylinders, Facebook announced going after Google’s display advertising business. Got to admire these guys, there is not a quarter that passes that they don’t announce something new, a new product, a new initiative, a new territory. Some of these announcements are exciting across the board to everybody, and some are exciting mainly to Facebook, but that’s fair – it’s business.
When Facebook bought Oculus for $2B it was because Mark saw the future, and it was virtual (e.g. investing in the future growth). But when Mark bought Instagram for $1B it wasn’t only to grow Facebook – but it was to make sure Facebook image business won’t die because of Instagram exploding growth (e.g downside protection).
Between Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook organic growth – Facebook won social.
But did they?
In April 2011, Evan Spiegel came up with Snapchat for the first time at Stanford, at first called Picaboo (you know, when you see something and it’s gone), to then 2 months after relaunch as Snapchat.
I must admit, it took me a LONG LONG time to get into Snapchat. And if you’re reading this, and you’re over 30, I know you feel the same. You’re either not using it, or thinking about all those times you tried it but it felt “too much is going on, swipe up, swipe sideways, colors, things come up.. help!” (right? admit it..).
Well, few weeks into Snapchat, I can tell you I was wrong – and you’re probably wrong too. Snapchat is not only an unbelievable platform, but I think that while Instagram was risking Facebook image business, Snapchat risk Facebook’s very core business of what Facebook is – communication between people. While younger audiences (under 20) don’t love Facebook because their parents are there, and use Snapchat mainly, I argue that overtime – most adult audiences will convert as well to Snapchat.
Facebook and Instagram encourage people to share – “who they want to be”, beautiful pictures, taken at the best moments.. it’s all perfect. Try to think of any friend of yours sharing an authentic post, like just normal, not perfect self on Facebook or Instagram. Won’t be easy for you to find. Heck, there are even amazing startups such as TalkSpace that were born to help our (social) generation to be just a little bit mentally healthier by allowing people to join a social platform that enables them to be themselves; due to this perfect-image we keep seeing all the time.
Trust me – the world isn’t perfect, even if it “looks” like one.
Snapchat is exactly the opposite of all of this, and 15 year old kids figured it out before us oldies did. Snapchat is not about who you want to be – but rather who you really are, constant flow of authentic, mostly video driven, content is uploaded to Snapchat on a daily basis to something called “my story”, a 24 hours window where your stories are lingering for people to consume, but then they are gone. Because they are gone after 24 hours, and it’s mainly video of yourself (versus text/image), people feel MUCH MORE liberated to share things about themselves, sharing their lives, talking about things, asking questions, knowing in 24 hours it won’t stay, so no need to “make it perfect”, it can just be “real”.
Would you ever upload a video to Facebook where you talk for 30 seconds about your day today? NEVER (what would people say about it??).
Would you ever upload a video of you saying something a bit silly, because you’re feeling silly? NEVER (what if your employer sees it in a week or a month)
Would you do these things on Snapchat, every day.
Google lost buying Facebook when it was small, then Instagram, then WhatsApp, Twitter went public… but there is one real winner out there. If they would agree to ever sell. Google worth $500B+, and let’s say they offered Snapchat 10% of Google, would it worth it? would Snapchat do it? Well if Snapchat will be the next Facebook, and Facebook market cap is $300B+, then it would be a pretty good deal. I would also guess that the day Google made the purchase, their value would go north of $50B as investors are “really into” Google getting into social. Then Google would the largest in search, maps, video, mail, ….. and social.
Gotta love Snapchat – “Not who you want to be, but rather who you really are”.
Isnt this a rather simplistic view of how google can be ‘social’, the train has left the station and the next one is around AI, and they are betting on this..
Snapchat managed to catch the wave while FB was busy vaccuming the money from the unstoppable ‘gentrification’ of its audience. The recent iteration of Snapchat is interesting, however evan and his team still havent done what mark and co have done in terms of flipping FB from a social company into a mobile powerhouse.