Right back

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - HOW WOULD YOU

re­act if when each in­stant mes­sage ar­rives, you have to first send back a mes­sage of your own? Only af­ter you have ‘unlocked’ it by send­ing back a mes­sage, can you view the one in your in­box and send a re­sponse. Would you be in­trigued – and hastily send one back – or sim­ply an­noyed?

With its new vis­ual mes­sag­ing app called Sling­shot, Face­book is bet­ting on the for­mer. Es­sen­tially, it is tak­ing a punt on the prin­ci­ple of ‘forced re­ciproc­ity’: you have to trade photo-for­photo, or video-for-video in or­der to view mes­sages. The so­cial me­dia gi­ant is clearly hop­ing this re­quire­ment will spur take-up, as new users are pre­sum­ably ‘peer-pres­sured’ into Sling­shot by their friends. AN EN­GAGE­MENT TAC­TIC Mike Shar­man, co-founder of dig­i­tal agency Retro­vi­ral, says it’s an in­ter­est­ing move in the midst of what has be­come a fully-fledged mo­bile mes­sag­ing app war.

“Face­book i s an i nno­va­tor,” he ex­plains. “The abil­ity to con­stantly evolve in re­la­tion to what people want from a so­cial ex­pe­ri­ence has al­lowed a plat­form that wasn’t first to mar­ket – but the cur­rent dom­i­nant force in the ecosys­tem – to keep people in­ter­ested and com­ing back for more. I like the fact that Sling­shot re­quires the peer-to-peer en­gage­ment tac­tic of shar­ing con­tent prior to be­ing able to ‘redeem’ con­tent.”

Sling­shot i s widely re­garded as Face­book’s an­swer to Snapchat, the mas­sively pop­u­lar ‘ephe­meral’ pho­tomes­sag­ing app that only al­lows users to view a photo for a limited time be­fore it dis­ap­pears. Face­book of­fered to buy Snapchat for $3bn last year, but was turned down by its own­ers. Ac­cord­ing to Busi­ness In­sider, Snapchat has ap­prox­i­mately 30m ac­tive users and 60m in­stalls, and it re­ceives more than 400m mes­sages each day. ‘WHERE EV­ERY­BODY IS A CRE­ATOR…’ Im­pres­sive num­bers, but the big­gest, rich­est and most i nflu­en­tial so­cial net­work in the world has Snapchat very firmly in its sights. In a blog post, the Face­book team be­hind the app ex­plained its strat­egy: “With Sling­shot, we wanted to build some­thing where ev­ery­body is a cre­ator and no­body is just a spec­ta­tor. When ev­ery­one par­tic­i­pates, there’s less pres­sure, more cre­ativ­ity and even the lit­tle things in life can turn into awe­some shared ex­pe­ri­ences.”

In­deed, con­tent cre­ation is the driv­ing force on any plat­form, as Shar­man ex­plains. “The more con­tent Face­book en­cour­ages users to cre­ate, the greater the rea­son to spend more time on the plat­form,” he says. “This trans­lates into more op­por­tu­ni­ties to sell ad­ver­tis­ing and ap­peases the share­hold­ers. Time on plat­form is king.”

With ever-in­creas­ing op­tions be­com­ing avail­able to smart­phone users with an in­sa­tiable de­sire to be con­stantly con­nected, will we ul­ti­mately use a dif­fer­ent mo­bile mes­sag­ing app for dif­fer­ent people and dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions?

“It ’s likely that we will have two or three key net­works or ‘ so­cial nicheworks’, as I like to call them, based on the re­quire­ments to en­gage with dif­fer­ent people within our var­i­ous so­cial struc­tures,” says Shar­man. “We have seen con­sumers adopt­ing both What­sApp and WeChat be­cause of the dif­fer­ent op­tions that the plat­forms pro­vide. There is a mes­sag­ing app war in progress and only time will tell who will be wav­ing the white flag.”

Mark Zucker­berg, chair­man and CEO of Face­book, is be­hind Sling­shot’s de­vel­op­ment.

Snapchat vs Sling­shot

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.