What Happened to Innovation in Social Media?

The social media world is one that has been heralded for its innovation, forward thought, and bold moves. But the industry has been skating by on that reputation for some time now. The fact is that almost every ‘innovation’ put forth recently by social media platforms is a retread of features that already existed on competing channels. Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but it’s not advancing the medium.

 

Snapchat

Snapchat took a cue from Facebook and dropped some syllables. On the day they announced they were getting into the glasses business they dropped the ‘chat’ from their name. Now the company will only be known as Snap. Snap’s first non-app venture, the Snap Spectacles, retails for $199 and is supposed to “push the boundaries of what a camera can be” and further integrate augmented reality into our everyday lives. The Snap Spectacles feel very much like a cheaper Google Glass. Wearable tech may be on the rise but the industry is dominated by the Apple Watch and hasn’t become as ubiquitous as smart phones. Price point differentiation aside, Snap Spectacles will face the same challenge that proved insurmountable for the Google Glass: privacy.

 

Instagram

Instagram announced some exciting new features to their platform that had everyone buzzing. Instagram Stories allows you to create videos and images with new doodling features, updated filters and a 24-hour self-destruct. This would have set the world on fire if Snapchat hadn’t already been offering these exact same features for four calendar years. One thing that made Snapchat’s feature so great was not only did it disappear in a single day, but it was private. Only select friends of your choosing would receive a post and only your friends could see public posts. The general public wasn’t privy to your activity. Instagram stole all the functionality of Snapchat but none of the privacy. Your Instagram Stories are public, FYI.

 

LinkedIn

What makes Facebook great for your social life will apply to your professional life, right? RIGHT?! That’s what LinkedIn in banking on. Since purchased by Microsoft in June, the company is hoping to quickly reverse a trend that has seen monthly users drop to just 25% of their estimated 450 million members. The revamped platform is designed to make the experience more enjoyable, but until LinkedIn addresses the real problem of not creating meaningful professional connections, then the rest of these updates just feel like window dressing.

 

Pinterest

Not to be outdone by Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, Pinterest is getting into the video ad business. Yes, just a few short years after Facebook introduced video and nearly a decade after the emergence of Youtube, Pinterest is now offering advertisers a chance display video in their ads.


As a lover of social media and the potential it holds, I’m left extremely underwhelmed by the recent updates. Picasso once said, “good artists copy, great artists steal”, but this approach results in each platform feeling and looking exactly like the rest.

Michael Dennis, Content Creator and Digital Strategist