Snapchat (SNAP) is sinking to the bottom of the bowl while Tik-Tok eats its lunch. There are always winners and losers when competing social media platforms (competing for both attention and $) attempt to hold their industry-leader position. When Snapchat was founded way back in 2011 by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown, all former Stanford students, the whole concept of timely content that disappears had many people excited and dedicated. You might remember that the entire concept was revolutionary if not a bit strange. It all worked for a while until it didn’t.
So how did Tik-Tok come to eat Snapchat’s lunch? Well for one thing, it’s way harder to look away from Tik-Tok once you start compared to Snapchat. Both platforms enable user-generated content (UGC) to reach multitudes all at the same time. I think the coolest thing of all is also something we tend to take for granted, the ability to reach the world with one hand (or even one finger). What not long ago seemed impossible, is now commonplace! Facebook (Meta), Instagram (Meta) & Twitter also offer significant audience reach but now lack the virality of Tik-Tok. That means we should expect that another yet-to-be-revealed platform is coming for Tik-Tok’s lunch. The mighty always eventually fall. It’s just the way of the world.
What of Tik-Tok? Why and how is it dominating? One of my closest friends has been involved his entire career in what used to be called television. Today being in ‘television’ is much more than that as video content is decliningly viewed on a TV screen. When talking about Tik-Tok my friend expressed his appreciation of the platform and how incredibly great it is. There are probably not a whole bunch of 60+ year old men who feel that way. While I personally can’t say I’ve spent a lot of time watching Tik-Tok videos, (making me the only person apparently), what I have seen has been cool, funny, interesting, and never-ending to exhaustion. That last thing is the reason I shy away from Tik-Tok in general. I do not need to add yet another time suck in my life. For me it’s following sports professional and college. I love that Tik-Tok exists because it allows for people all over the world to create something that if interesting – to other people – can be seen by millions all over the world. The algorithms that determine what I will see to keep me glued are for lack of a better word – creepy, but they clearly work amazingly well.
Having UGC makes content distribution way flatter than it was merely 30 years ago, and the genie is out of the bottle and will NEVER go back in.
Podcasts are another great example of UCG reaching untold amounts of potential listeners. The problem may be that there’s so much content that getting attention is getting more and more difficult. I’ve written before that my initial reaction to podcasts was ‘Huh?’ ‘What?’ Why would I want to listen to something when I could read it like 20 times faster? How incredibly wrong I was! But I didn’t know how wrong I was, until my son and I began our own baseball podcast. What began as a response to boredom and frustration due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, has become something much more. Almost 2 ½ years in with more than 100 episodes, we’re still at it and amazingly (to us at least) we’ve had almost (as of this writing) 16,000 downloads of a father and son podcast talking about baseball. We sometimes get letters from listeners thanking us, trying to help us, as well as ones correcting us on our mistakes, (we do make them often) but the letters are almost unfailingly positive and constructive. We remind ourselves again and again that people are listening! Some even like us.
Both my son and I have no idea on where we’re headed long-term with our Almost Cooperstown podcast. When you have listeners, you begin to feel as if you have a responsibility to deliver for them! All creators feel that way. For all creators of UGC the idea that from our homes (or wherever) we’re able to create something every week to distribute to those who want to watch (or listen), is so cool and rewarding. With any luck creators can avoid being sucked into forgetting the joy of creating content itself.
It’s because of a flatter world when it comes to distribution, that the world can watch and listen to individual voices. And of course, it’s far from perfect, but I think it makes the world a little bit better than it was before.