Image-based social media posts are the lifeblood of modern advertising. Emoji’s, GIFs and memes dominate, and much of online conversation these days is visual.
Which is why the big players are constantly trying to steal market share from each other. Further evidence of this comes with the news that Facebook has announced another major siege on the Snapchat niche.
Facebook has already dented Snapchat significantly with the story element of its Instagram social media product.
Now, to celebrate the eighth birthday of WhatsApp, Facebook is to roll out a new status feature for instant messaging application. This will enable users to create stories using photos, videos and GIFs. These story threads will then disappear after 24 hours.
It’s not just the Snapchat concept that WhatsApp will emulate either. The layout and functionality will look similar, and the options to add emojis and stickers will create visual messaging that replicates both Snapchat and Instagram.
WhatsApp has in excess of 1.2bn monthly active users and the planned roll out of the new story feature will concentrate on where it has the greatest penetration. The update will be available selectively from 20th February, but Facebook has made a commitment to ensure it’s available globally for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone users as quickly as possible.
This development repositions WhatsApp away from instant messaging to the sort of news feeds that support creative advertising campaigns.
And just as an aside, the evolution of WhatsApp into a platform for visual storytelling and advertising placement is, in fact, a return to its roots. It is named for its original purpose – a social media opportunity to tell people “What’s Up”.
In the race not to be left behind by this battle for attention and advertising revenue, Twitter is introducing improvements to the ways video can be added to timelines and its breaking news feature.
Using Twitter’s trending feed within the recently launched Explore tab will offer a “live” icon on some items which links to live streams.
Marketers are putting increasing emphasis on visual advertising – especially a recent statistic which shows that consumer attention increases massively if messages are attached to visual content.
So, the social media battle to offer new and improved opportunities for sharing photographs and videos looks set to continue throughout the year.