Facebook is in trouble. His Escape Plan: Turn into TikTok

Aging technology products often suffer from what is known as feature sprawl: over-complexity caused by bells and whistles accruing over the years.

Log into Facebook (launched 2004) or Instagram (launched 2010) these days and every available pixel seems to offer a different feature, feature, tool or interface, many cloned from newer, noisier competitors.

This all-for-all approach can give the impression that metaplatforms are recently rebranded the umbrella company that oversees Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp lacks a clear vision for its flagship apps.

But during a phone call with investors Wednesday afternoon, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg laid out a simple mission for Facebook and Instagram: Now they’re both TikTok.

It’s not like he said that directly. But the trajectory he charted for both apps, toward an experience dominated by the video content offered by the algorithm, is one that will bring them more in line with ByteDance’s video app, which has quickly become their fiercest competitor — even if their users clearly prefer the other.

TikTok is on its heels – not the only reason the company announced its first quarterly decline in revenue year on year in income statement accompanying Zuckerberg call. Apple’s privacy feature, introduced last year, makes monetization difficult, and the ongoing war in Ukraine has combined to put the firm in a quandary.

But it’s Reels, Instagram’s TikTok fake feature, and other TikTok-inspired twists 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 channels are moving away from the people and accounts you follow and are increasingly driven by AI that recommends content you find interesting from Facebook or Instagram.” Zuckerberg said. “Videos are part of this trend that focuses on the rise of short video as a content format, but this general AI trend is much broader and covers all types of content.”

“Now our artificial intelligence recommends about 15% of the content in a person’s Facebook feed and a little more than in the Instagram feed,” he added. “We expect these numbers to more than double by the end of next year.”

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

Even before Zuckerberg doubled down on Wednesday, Instagram’s rising TikTokification was drawing user ire.

“Make Instagram Instagram again,” urged one of the viral posts by Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, two of the platform’s biggest influencers. general. “Stop trying to be TikTok.”

BUT Petition on Change.org demanding the return of chronologically arranged channels of content and a re-emphasis on the still photograph created the same instagrammer who made a viral post garnered over 200,000 signatures.

In video appeal In response to the recent changes, Adam Mosseri, head of the platform, said that while Instagram will continue to support photography, “more and more Instagram will be turning into video.” Mosseri also articulated introducing more featured content into user feeds as a way to help small content creators find an audience.

This isn’t the first time Meta has emulated competitor innovation. In 2016, the company sought to fend off the Snapchat threat with addition the disappearance of “Stories” in Instagram; it’s later extended feature for facebook and whatsapp. In addition, this is not the first time the company is trying to organize a top-down back to video a tactic that has proved disastrous for many publishers in the past.

While striving to keep up with TikTok, the company is also trying to build a future for itself beyond social media. The rebrand, called Meta, launched last October was part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to shift his firm toward the vague miasma of e-commerce, virtual reality, and interactive digital environments dubbed “the metaverse.”

“The Metaverse is a huge opportunity for a number of reasons,” Zuckerberg said by phone. “Most importantly, it allows for a deeper social experience. … By helping to develop these platforms, we will be able to create these experiences in the way that we in the industry consider the best, instead of being limited by the restrictions that competitors place on us.”

But even according to the company’s own estimates, the mass and convenient metaverse is still far away. In the meantime, he’s stuck with the baggage of an outdated social media brand – and trying to earn in the process.