TikTok Battle Instagram With Photo App

TikTok is to take on social media rival, Instagram, by launching a photo-sharing app.

The company said it was working on a “dedicated space” for images and text.

Some users have received notifications saying their photo posts will be shared to a new “TikTok Notes” app unless they opt out.

It is the latest example of social media firms imitating each others’ products – including Instagram launching Reels, a TikTok-like video tool, in 2020.

“The copycat phenomenon runs rampant across social media platforms”, Mike Proulx, a research director at analysis firm Forrester, told the BBC.

When done well copycat features “pay off”, he added, giving the example of when Instagram copied Snapchat with its “Stories” feature.

However, he pointed out a similar move by Twitter ended in failure, so there was no guarantee of success.

Instagram’s focus on making Reels more central to app has previously frustrated some users.

Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner were among those who shared a petition calling out changes to the platform that seemed to promote Reels over other features of the app in 2022.

‘Plenty of them’
TikTok says it has not finalised the design of the Notes app, nor has it confirmed a release date.

But notifications received by some users suggest the app will let users upload or share photo posts – which are currently a feature of the TikTok app and let people post a series of images with sounds and filters.
Screenshots of the notification showed a toggle on the notifications allowing TikTok users to opt out of having their photo posts shared to the app.

Social media consultant Matt Navarra said a text or photo app might be a space where the majority of TikTok users who “lurk”, rather than post, would engage more.

But he said he did not think another photo-sharing app was something social media users were “desperate” for.

“We have plenty of them, so I don’t think there’s that demand out there necessarily,” he said.

It comes at a difficult time for the company, with the US passing legislation that could see TikTok banned unless its Chinese owner sells it within six months of passing its law.

“Launching Notes as a separate app would be a departure in strategy for TikTok, which has previously incorporated new features directly into the core app, but it makes sense given the current regulatory and consumer scrutiny,” said Jasmine Enberg, principal social media analyst at Insider Intelligence.

“There are few places left where it doesn’t have a stronghold, and photo-sharing is one,” she added.

Mike Proulx suggested the best way forward for TikTok might be to copy what Meta did with its Twitter rival, Threads, where it leaned heavily on the existing Instagram user base.

“But like Threads, the key will be creating a compelling enough experience to get them to stick around TikTok Notes beyond the initial curiosity factor,” he added.

“When social media features all start to become ubiquitous, what differentiates one social media platform from another narrows. It comes down to community, user experience, and, yes, algorithms.”

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