Facebook is in trouble. Its escape plan: Turn into TikTok

Aged technology products often suffer from what is known as feature drift: excessive complexity caused by the accumulation of bells and whistles over the years.

Log in to Facebook (launched 2004) or Instagram (launched 2010) and each available pixel seems to offer a different feature, function, tool, or interface, many of which are copied from newer, more well-known competitors.

This everything-for-all approach can leave the impression that the Meta Platform – recently rebranded the company that oversees Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – lacks a clear vision for its flagship apps.

But on an earnings call with investors Wednesday afternoon, CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined a candid statement of mission for Facebook and Instagram: They’re both TikTok now.

It’s not like he said it outright. But the trajectory he’s outlined for both apps, towards an experience dominated by algorithm-recommended video content, is the one that will bring them more in line with the already ByteDance-owned video app. quickly becoming their fiercest competitor – even if their users clearly prefer otherwise.

TikTok’s heel jerk isn’t the only reason the company reported it for the first time Quarterly revenue decreased year-on-year inside income statement accompanied by an appeal from Zuckerberg. An Apple security feature introduced last year made it harder to make money, and the ongoing war in Ukraine has put the company in a difficult position.

But it’s Reels, Instagram’s TikTok clone and other TikTok-inspired pivots that Zuckerberg highlighted in his call as offering hope for the future.

“One of the major transformations in our business right now is that social feeds will go from being primarily driven by the people and accounts you follow to increasingly being driven by AI recommendations. content that you’ll find interesting on Facebook or Instagram,” Zuckerberg said. “Story is part of this trend that focuses on the growth of short-form video as a content format, but this overall AI trend is much broader and includes all types of content.”

“Currently, about 15% of the content in a person’s Facebook feed, and a little more than their Instagram feed, is suggested by our AI,” he added. “We expect these numbers to more than double by the end of next year.”

People spent more than 30% of their time watching Reels in the company’s most recent quarter, Zuckerberg said, and the company has now “passed $1 billion in annual revenue for Reels ads.”

Even before Zuckerberg doubled down on Wednesday, Instagram’s TikTokification surge infuriated users.

“Let’s recreate Instagram for Instagram,” a viral post urged both Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, two of the platform’s biggest influencers, shared. “Don’t try to be TikTok.”

One Recommendations Change.org request the return of chronologically ordered content feeds and re-emphasis on still photography, created by same Instagrammer who made the post go viral, which has now accumulated over 200,000 signatures.

In a video vocative Reacting to the recent changes, Adam Mosseri, head of the platform, said that while Instagram will continue to support still photography, “more and more Instagram will become video”. Mosseri also frames introducing more recommended content into users’ feeds as a way to help smaller content creators find an audience.

This isn’t the first time Meta has adopted a competitor’s innovation. In 2016, the company sought to counter the threat posed by Snapchat by adding disappearing “Stories” to Instagram; it later extended this feature to Facebook and WhatsApp. And this isn’t the first time the company has tried to be top-down rotate to video — a tactic that has previously proven disastrous for many publishers.

As it struggles to keep up with TikTok, the company is simultaneously trying to build a future for itself outside of the social media feed. The rebranded Meta, which launched last October, is part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to move his company into a nebulous swath of e-commerce, virtual reality, and the environment. interactive digital field dubbed the “metaverse”.

“Supermarkets are a huge opportunity for a number of reasons,” Zuckerberg said on the call. “Most importantly, it allows for a deeper social experience. … By helping to develop these platforms, we will have the freedom to build these experiences in the way that we across the industry believe will be best, rather than being limited by the constraints imposed on them. competitors pose for us. “

But even by the company’s own estimates, a mainstream, user-friendly metaverse is still years away. Meanwhile, it’s stuck with the baggage of a legacy social media brand – and try to make money in process.

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-07-27/facebook-is-in-trouble-its-escape-plan-turn-into-tiktok Facebook is in trouble. Its escape plan: Turn into TikTok

Edmund DeMarche

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