According to Venture Beat, YouTube may be planning to introduce a new feature to its platform called Backstage. Backstage would allow users to “share photos, polls, links, text posts, and videos with their subscribers”. Basically, YouTube is recreating Facebook’s News Feed for itself.
This isn’t exactly the first time that a social media platform knocks another one off. Only a couple of weeks ago, we were all buzzing about Instagram introducing a carbon–copy of Snapchat Stories to the top of its feed. At the same time, Facebook was trialing location-based filters in Canada and Brazil. A while before that, Facebook Live knocked off Periscope.
I’m all for building off of what others created, “standing on the shoulders of giants” as they say, but this becoming a constant occurance. Our beloved social media platforms are becoming increasingly redundant; their core features are all becoming the same.
There are certain things that each platform does really well: Instagram is good at compelling images and short-form video; Twitter’s good for short-form posts and sharing others’ content; YouTube is the king of long-form video. Facebook is the only all-encompassing platform, and that is both its blessing and its curse.
By making their social media ecosystems resemble each other too much, one of two main outcomes might occur:
- People will begin to choose sides, divvying up users amongst each platform with less and less overlap;
- Little to nothing will change: users will use each platform for its core features and the rest will have been a waste of time and money.
Platforms should focus on what makes them click with people and build on that; improve the features that are already there and create new ones that compliment them. Sure there may be some occasional overlap between features on different platforms, but they wouldn’t all become completely homogenized.
In the case of YouTube, it’s hard to tell if this will really work. Unlike a lot of its counterparts, YouTube’s “social” aspect isn’t very strong. Sure, users like and comment on the videos (and other comments) that they enjoy, but there is less room for direct dialogue between uploaders and subscribers. This being the case, Backstage wouldn’t fit naturally into YouTube’s current format. It feels like a bit of an awkward jump. Even if it turns out that this is what YouTube needs, the competition from other platforms with the same features will make things tough.
In order for all of these social media platforms to stay relevant, growth and innovation will need to be constant. They will need to continuously evolve, as people’s interest in new things is brief. However, knowing one’s strengths and using them as a guide is important in order to stay original and interesting. If this isn’t done, we will soon end up with the same product over and over again.
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