Oh look, Instagram is following TikTok's lead with a new feature, what an amazing surprise.
Instagram has now released a new 'Add Yours' sticker for Stories, which allows users to prompt others to contribute to their Stories content, resulting in more engaging reply threads. Users may now add the new 'Add Yours' sticker to their Stories frame, as shown above, with an example using an outfit of the day's prompt, inviting followers to comment with their own #OOTD photograph.
When users react, they're added to the profile bubble listing on the sticker, which, when pressed, allows users to scroll through all of the other thread responses, forming a response chain within Stories that can help drive additional participation. This sounds a lot like TikTok's Duet function, in which many people contribute to a Duet chain, resulting in extended, interactive streams of content based on the initial topic.
TikTok's engaging, community-based creativity is a big part of its appeal, so it's no surprise that Instagram is adopting a page from its now-famous competitor. But, at the same time, it's a little excessive - Facebook's repetition can feel like it's going too far in attempting to capitalize on these usage patterns. It makes sense — TikTok has a lot of users, and Instagram wants to tap into that everywhere it can to keep them from leaving, so if it can use comparable capabilities, it should at least try it out and see what happens. However, there is a clear duplication here.
Who cares if it works if it does? However, Instagram, as well as Facebook (or Meta) in general, isn't very adept at coming up with new, original ideas in this regard. This will be a major roadblock in Facebook's new attempt to reclaim younger people, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently stating that the company will prioritize serving young adults in its products over-optimizing for older users. Facebook recognizes the importance of maintaining engagement with younger user groups to maximize take-up of its advanced, metaverse-aligned offerings, but the data shows that it is losing ground in this regard, with Facebook usage among people under the age of 24 declining over the last decade.
In this regard, a fundamental issue is that Facebook simply lacks cultural intelligence and a knowledge of what appeals to younger audiences – which is why Snapchat is consistently able to start and lead new trends, and now TikTok has become the primary vehicle for doing so. Instagram used to have that cultural presence, that direct line to create online communities, but it's lost contact with them since Facebook took over. While the graph above does not relate to Instagram usage, you can guarantee that the same patterns are occurring there as well, thus Zuck's heightened focus on younger demographics.
Because of the replication, this is relevant. Yes, Facebook has had varying degrees of success in copying features from Snapchat and TikTok, with Instagram Stories being the most notable victory, while Reels has also been a hit for Instagram, even though usage still lags below TikTok. But it's not helping Facebook win the broader cultural change; because of the constant duplication, Facebook is no longer perceived as an innovator, and it's lost its cool factor in this regard. Or perhaps not because of this, but because it's part of a larger trend: Facebook has been excellent at bringing these services to less tech-savvy individuals who aren't using these other, newer apps.
However, for those who are always on the lookout for the next big thing - for example, younger audiences - Facebook's replication appears outdated and second-rate. It's the elderly catching up with the rest of the world, then telling you about this amazing new function that you'd already been using long before they did. That's the flaw in Facebook's replication strategy: it always leaves it a step behind, rather than being a leader – and if it isn't a leader, it loses its cool cred and, as a result, younger audience engagement.
So, in a broader sense, it might work in terms of drawing in-app engagement from usage trends coming from other apps. But it's like the corporatization of these developments, and I don't see how Facebook can win back the youth unless it can shake things up and start leading the way on some of these major themes. Over the last month, Instagram has been testing the ‘Add Yours' sticker with a select group of users, but it is now available to all users worldwide on iOS and Android.