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Facebook is losing itself because of copying TikTok

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, is looking for ways, including copying competitors and breaking the characteristics of Facebook and Instagram to compete with TikTok.

Justina Sharp, 24 years old with 93,000 followers on Instagram, last year was asked by the representative of this social network to meet to discuss ways to help her expand the number of viewers. Sharp felt strange to be contacted so directly, but decided to join the meeting anyway.

“That person talked to me for exactly 30 minutes, giving me general tips like hashtag usage and timing,” recalls Sharp.

Justina Sharp considers herself to be primarily active on TikTok.  Photo: Bloomberg.

Justina Sharp considers herself to be primarily active on TikTok. Image: Bloomberg.

She then realized the true purpose of the meeting. The Instagram representative said she would be really successful if all she posted on the platform was original content, which has not appeared elsewhere.

“Oh, turns out they don’t want me to repost the videos from TikTok. They wanted me to post first on Reels,” she recalls.

Reels is a short video feature, considered a copy of TikTok. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, need users to post content on Reels to attract young people, especially when the growth figures of these two platforms are flat and the value of Meta’s stock has dropped by as much as 47% since the beginning of the year.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to reverse this trend, as well as strengthen support for long-term gambles like the metaverse, by focusing on copying the same TikTok.

Over the past 14 years, since launching News Feed, Facebook has developed algorithms that help users see what they want to see, based on their activity online. Facebook ranks friends based on engagement and sorts posts, as well as shows ads based on user search categories.

This algorithm helps Facebook take the lead in advertising with a value of 116 billion USD, but also makes users quickly bored.

Meanwhile, TikTok applies a more advanced algorithm, suggesting things they didn’t even know they would like, while boosting popularity for anonymous people, as long as they continuously create content. exciting.

Zuckerberg is also now starting to see this effect as a priority for Facebook. “I see the type of AI being developed as not only a short-form video recommendation system, but also a tool to detect and deliver the most interesting content shared by users,” he said.

A company as big as Meta, with 3.6 billion users on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, has many ways to promote the experience of new features. Reels are appearing on every Instagram user’s wall. When they click on a video, the app switches to a full-screen interface, where swiping up or down leads to other Reel videos.

Instagram also plans to change the interface, in which users are brought into a full-screen video mode like TikTok when opening the application. This is a big change, when Instagram is a social network famous for its impressive image-building style. Now, Meta is looking to remove this very feature of Instagram to compete with TikTok, but that may not work.

TikTok is the most downloaded app in the world. As of 2020, Americans spend more time on TikTok than Facebook or Instagram. This application is expected to surpass YouTube this year.

Reels short video feature on Instagram.  Photo: Instagram

Reels short video feature on Instagram. Image: Instagram.

Instagram leaders recognize that TikTok’s success isn’t just about the video format. They also want to copy the culture of creators and simplify the process of paying video creators.

“One of the important things that applies to Reels is the money bonus program. You are invited to participate in this program and you will be rewarded for creating Reels videos that are viewed by many people,” said Asad Awan, person in charge of monetization on the computer. this ability, said.

Sharp joined the show and raked in $150 for a Reels video that garnered 700,000 views. She uses this money to buy coffee for her friends, who will rate the videos she posts on TikTok. Favorite videos will be posted to Reels by Sharp but without the TikTok logo, so that Instagram’s algorithm considers it original content.

Sharp considers himself to be primarily active on TikTok. “I make more money, I have more viewers on TikTok. As a content creator, I also like TikTok more, even though I have been with Instagram since I was 13 years old. Reels’ appearance is similar to that of TikTok. Like Instagram, it’s trying to grab TikTok’s market share without trying to improve its app,” Sharp said.

Instagram heads believe Reels has a chance to become a new cultural landmark, in part because they’ve had success with a strategy of copying a competitor’s new feature in the past. For example, the Stories feature on Instagram and Facebook is a copy of Snapchat, it both limits the ability of competitors to expand and helps Instagram pass the one billion user mark.

However, not all of Meta’s projects are successful. Reels could fail like IGTV, the YouTube competitor that Instagram launched in 2018, or Facebook Gaming, which launched that same year to compete with Twitch.

Zuckerberg didn’t have much time to find a better solution. Meta had a market value of about $1 trillion last year, but now it’s down to about $500 billion. After announcing its fourth quarter 2021 business results in February, Meta’s value dropped by $251 billion in just one day. The company is cutting budgets on long-term gambles, including the metaverse and virtual reality hardware, while it waits for Reels to win backing from advertising agencies.

Content creators are also making money. Sharp said she had no choice but to make a short-format video when Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms turned optimal for Reels.

“Instagram contains many features that attract young people, but only Reels is favored on the algorithm. My followers do not see the content on my News Feed or Stories,” she said.

Diep Anh (follow Bloomberg)

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