Building a consumer tech start-up is never easy. There are so many unknown variables; you just have to keep trying and experimenting simultaneously. In a B2B business, the transaction comes into play, which boosts motivation at a different level, while in a consumer tech business, especially in the social consumer space you need to build a hypothesis and keep trying things till you start seeing some validation through data.
At Wishfie, we did a lot of secondary research around how Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and similar apps have scaled from a couple of thousands users to millions of users now.
We see a lot of debates around Snapchat killing Facebook or Instagram beating Snapchat whereas, in my opinion, all this is bullshit.
While doing secondary research for our app, Wishfie, I decided to speak to teenagers to try and understand which apps they use, why they use them and about how much time they spend on these apps in a day.
I was amazed to see their responses. Out of roughly 120 people I interviewed, age group 13–17, geography pan-India, the usage preference was:
Q1: Why do you use Snapchat for chatting? Isn’t Whatsapp more convenient?
A1: For 70 percent, the usage was almost similar to that of Whatsapp. But the fact that these people are using Snapchat for their daily conversations came out as a shock to me. They save last 7–8 messages to have a context of the chat; they make that extra effort but continue chatting on Snapchat. When asked the reason why, I didn’t get a straight answer but it was something more to do with not switching from one platform to another as this provides chatting, stickers and the option of sending a snap anytime.
Inference: We live in a small world. Don’t assume based on what you feel is right.
Q2: What about Instagram or Facebook? When and why do you use that?
A2: Teens use Instagram every 2 hours on an average, majorly to break the monotony as “it is classy content”, or to add the story of a recent classic photo clicked intentionally for Instagram.
Most use Facebook 3–4 times a day and it’s more like a habit. It works like an advanced version of YouTube for them as it is full of entertainment and is mostly video content.
Inference: Teens care a lot about their peers, the coolness factor, the brag factor. With Instagram, when a 15-year-old has 5000-plus followers, it makes them feel like a celebrity in their own little world.
After talking to a lot of people, I thought of trying to analyse how the cycle of social media has been before and after the launch of such apps.
After this qualitative research, I decided to look at some statistics posted by these giants and wanted to validate whatever the hypothesis building in my mind was true or not.
So, it’s quite evident from the data that Facebook leads the social landscape big time. But the question is whether the above data matches to the qualitative study or not.
Facebook has 1.32B DAU which is way, way ahead of all social media.
Instagram has 300M+ active users on Stories and WhatsApp touches the same number on WhatsApp Status, which is more than the entire user set of Snapchat (166M) (Source)
Doesn’t match…does it?
Completely perplexed, I decided to do more Q&As with people of different age groups.
Q1: What do you use Snapchat for?
A1: For chatting with friends, checking out their stories. The frequency of Snapchat stories is quite high which creates FOMO.
Q2: What do you use Instagram for?
A2: To watch the content of people I follow and discover new content across different areas or to add a moment to my story in the form of classic picture shots.
Inference: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp have acquired their own space/real estate on mobile and no one is going to kill no one.
Different sets of audiences need different things to play with and each of the above social networks has developed their own social graph. Hence, it’s super difficult to compete with each other. Thus, rather than battling with other similar platforms, they are fighting a battle of their own to retain users.
It is extremely unlikely that a person would delete Instagram because s/he likes Facebook more or because s/he likes Snapchat more and vice-versa.
If you are building a social network, it’s super crucial that you are creating your own social graph.
Every above mentioned social network solves an underlying utility. For example, Instagram started off with mind-blowing filters, Snapchat brought in evanescence, Quora ensured you get an answer to any question in the world that you ask on the platform while Wishfie brought in a totally new wave of opinions-based-graph.
Inference: In this fast-moving world, there will always exist some gap among these social networks due to which one might not be able to replace the other. Find that gap and the game should be yours.
Disclaimer: This is mostly based on anecdotal evidence, as my sample size for research wasn’t big. This article was first published at YourStory