It wasn’t so long ago that Snapchat was the challenger du jour in social media. Former WPP CEO Martin Sorrell once said advertisers viewed it as the possible “third force” to Google and Facebook.
Then along came TikTok and usurped the role Snapchat once seemed poised to play. But now Snapchat is on the verge of reversing the move that may have led to it getting overshadowed.
TikTok hit the U.S. two years ago and counted 50 million daily users in the U.S. by early 2020. Snapchat launched in 2011 and counted 90 million daily users in North America (which includes Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America) at the end of Q2.
Still, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel isn’t one to sit tight as competitors intrude on his territory. His app is now testing a feature that would let users share more of its content — including professional video made by Snapchat’s partners — off the platform, Axios reported Tuesday.
If rolled out broadly and kept in place, this new level of shareability would lead to more eyeballs on Snapchat content such as Snap Originals, which Spiegel recently claimed has reached more than 75% of the U.S. Gen Z population.
That would be a positive for media partners invested in attracting Snapchatter eyeballs but also for the company as it looks to ramp up its political coverage ahead of the U.S. presidential race this fall.
Driving up awareness of Snapchat’s political coverage would also be timely to stand out as a more trustworthy social platform for news, as competitors Facebook and Twitter continue to struggle with fake news to a more noticeable degree.
The test by Snapchat also signals the app is continuing to evolve past its ephemeral walled-garden roots. Snap started letting users share certain content off Snapchat in January 2018, for example. That June, the company started letting developers integrate its Bitmoji avatars in other apps, and developers have also been encouraged to integrate Snapchat Stories into their apps since then.
Evolving in this manner could help Snapchat capture more of the growth that’s currently going to TikTok, a platform that’s no doubt exploded in part due to the easy transferability of TikToks to other platforms, like Instagram.
This latest test doesn’t necessarily signal Snapchat is bound to take over TikTok as the go-to social-video app — it’s too late for that. It will still likely remain primarily used as a 1-to-1 messaging platform for many users.
But it does imply you may start seeing more Snapchat content off the platform, which could help the company retain time spent among users and influencers, the latter of which have historically felt overlooked by the platform and may be more vulnerable to poaching as TikTok faces an uncertain future in the U.S.