Facebook

A journalist has managed to get their hands on 2 hours worth of recordings with Zuckerberg answering questions from employees today. They’re pretty eye-opening.

He’s not wrong though..

He actually sounds like he thinks TikTok is a pretty big threat so it’s interesting to hear what kinds of changes they’re making to Instagram, which will help counter them.

So we have a number of approaches that we’re going to take towards this, and we have a product called Lasso that’s a standalone app that we’re working on, trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico, is I think one of the first initial ones. We’re trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big.

We’re taking a number of approaches with Instagram, including making it so that Explore is more focused on stories, which is increasingly becoming the primary way that people consume content on Instagram, as well as a couple of other things there. But yeah, I think that it’s not only one of the more interesting new phenomena and products that are growing. But in terms of the geopolitical implications of what they’re doing, I think it is quite interesting. I think we have time to learn and understand and get ahead of the trend. It is growing, but they’re spending a huge amount of money promoting it. What we’ve found is that their retention is actually not that strong after they stop advertising. So the space is still fairly nascent, and there’s time for us to kind of figure out what we want to do here.

This would be one of the first times Facebook’s come up against a competitor that they can’t just buy. They did a good job of countering Snapchat but they can only pull the app in so many directions at once.

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Snap has seen a massive uptick in its share price after having had a torrid year before, and the uptake is mostly due to them being miles ahead in AR compared to Instagram.

Tik Tok takes that even further, so he is right in seeing it as a major threat.

Facebook is now for “your parents”, Instagram for largest static photos for aesthetically and superficially focussed people, Snap / Tik Tok for the young, fun and cool kids. Obviously I am generalising, but it feels like as it currently stands few of the younger generation may migrate to one of FBs products - WhatsApp notwithstanding.

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On that basis it sounds like Facebook survived one wave of disruption by buying Instagram but it’s going to struggle with the next - unless that turns out to be VR perhaps.

They did buy Oculus, but I think that’s rather niche - most people won’t buy a VR headset, or if they do they won’t have it with them. Much more interesting for most is AR, utilising the phone they carry with them 24/7 - that’s where Snap and Tik Tok are much better positioned than FB or Instagram, at least currently.

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That’s a really good point, Snap have always described themselves as a ‘camera company’, as opposed to a social network. So perhaps Evan Spiegel really is the visionary that he appeared to be a few years ago and they’ll end up leapfrogging Instagram again, once AR is ready for the mass market.

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Quite a big move for Instagram, which I’m sure they’d have preferred not to have made. But another sign that they’re under increasing pressure over user privacy?

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