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  • MaryGrace Lerin

Disney Character Voices Are Now Available on TikTok's Text-to-Speech Feature

Quite a fascinating announcement in and of itself, but it's also a great example of corporate trolling and clever response to a rival in terms of timing.

Disney and TikTok launched a new partnership recently, allowing TikTok users to choose from a variety of Disney character voices for TikTok's text-to-speech capability.

Hence, rather than the standard, somewhat overly joyful female voice that you hear over and over in TikTok vids, you can now use C-3PO or Rocket, which may be a nice way to increase engagement and, no doubt, lead to new viral trends involving characters saying stuff they shouldn't.

But here's why it's even better: Instagram just revealed that Reels, its TikTok clone, will have text-to-speech support, as well as its own voice effects capabilities.

This, of course, lags behind TikTok by a long shot, as you've been able to add this to your TikTok video since December of last year, and it's already a popular feature. Considering this, it stands to reason for Instagram to do the same, but it also means that TikTok is ahead of the curve on another significant innovation, and with Instagram trailing behind, it will be difficult for it to reclaim young users and reclaim its status as the cool place to be.

And now that Instagram has caught up to this trend, TikTok has already outdone them.

That couldn't have been planned because the feature was revealed on Disney+ Day and couldn't have been scheduled to coincide with Instagram's feature release. However, it once again emphasizes that TikTok is the market leader, while Instagram is the older, less cool app that catches up months – practically a year – after the cool new item has become popular.

And now that TikTok has progressed to the next stage, Instagram's speech-to-voice is already second-best a day after its introduction.

That is extraordinarily fortunate timing for TikTok, and it exemplifies why it is the most popular app right now, especially among younger, more tech-savvy audiences.

If Instagram and its parent company, Meta, wants to take back its younger audience, they'll have to reclaim the lead in the market, which they don't appear to be close to accomplishing right now. As part of a broader strategy adjustment to maximize long-term profitability, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed that the company will focus exclusively on younger audiences going forward. However, in the initial stages of this new initiative, those efforts appear to be solely focused on messaging and regaining popularity by collaborating with TikTok influencers, which is quite funny and ironic.

That will assist with publicity, but it isn't like what Facebook is or what it does is unknown, so it won't make a difference. Will it help to bring Facebook, and Meta in general, back into fashion?

It feels a little contrived right now, as if Meta is trying way too hard to keep up with the latest trends and be "down with the kids" in its communications.

On this front, Meta would be the real victor if it could lead the next wave of innovation and become the creator of new trends based on the latest features and user feedback. That's a more challenging option to take since you can't predict what will catch on and what won't, but Meta can invest in new tools and develop features that aren't available in other apps.

For the previous 5-10 years, it hasn't been Meta's strong suit — and, that's when it lost touch with younger audiences.

Because it was better, it was cooler, people gradually went to the blue app and its features instead of MySpace, and that pushed Facebook to fame. Then Instagram became the next cool place to be, so Facebook purchased it, then Snapchat became the trending app of choice. Facebook sought to buy Snap as well, but it's since lost its position as the leader in creative innovation, with Snapchat's Lenses being the leading trend-setter in terms of major advances, then taken over by TikTok.

When's the last instance of a must-see, must-use feature on Facebook or Instagram got everybody excited and discussing it? Snap Lenses has done this regularly, while TikTok has been able to create new trends with features like Duets, creative AR tools, and text-to-speech.

The essential step is to get people animatedly conversing about it, and Meta isn't in any way the leader at the moment. It's fascinating to see this demonstrated so clearly in a single announcement, which was most certainly not intended in this manner, in turn making it much more remarkable in this regard.

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