The conventional notion about Facebook these days is that the users for whom the Facebook app is still a core part of their existence are, to use a scientific label for this particular demographic, “the olds.” Younger netizens — and, in fact, plenty of Facebook-nevers — have flocked to apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, where ephemerality is a greater part of the overall experience.
Rather than doubling down on the older Facebook faithful who are still logging into the app every day, though, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, July 21, announced a new bid to appeal to younger users. To make the overall Facebook app experience, in other words, a completely overhauled product that feels a bit more like TikTok. One that also adds new feeds that users can toggle through. And which, if we’re honest, is probably going to completely befuddle the old people still on the app.
Facebook app overhaul
“One of the most requested features for Facebook is to make sure people don’t miss friends’ posts,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “So today we’re launching a Feeds tab where you can see posts from your friends, groups, Pages, and more separately in chronological order.
“The app will still open to a personalized feed on the Home tab, where our discovery engine will recommend the content we think you’ll care most about. But the Feeds tab will give you a way to customize and control your experience further.”
This new Facebook app overhaul will also prioritize looping video in the main feed. And will offer a way for Facebook to do something TikTok-like that Instagram already does now. Have you noticed how, after scrolling your Instagram feed for a period of time, you’ll eventually be presented with posts from accounts you don’t follow? That is to say, posts that Instagram thinks you might like. That’s the whole premise around TikTok’s For You page, of course. And Facebook wants to bring a little of that magic to its own app.
Competition with TikTok intensifies
This is a tried-and-true page out of the Zuckerberg playbook, by the way. If you can’t beat them, try to buy them. Failing that, just copy them outright.
Moreover, here’s one of the biggest indicators that TikTok poses a potentially existential threat for Facebook, which built perhaps the single greatest targeted advertising machine in history. TikTok not only found a way to addict the coveted young users that Facebook wants to recapture. It’s also expected to grow its advertising revenue in the US this year a staggering 184%. Up to $5.96 billion, to be more specific.
No wonder Facebook sees TikTok as the latest and perhaps the most ominous threat to its core business. Especially with TikTok, currently the most visited website in the world, having reached a status, no pun intended, that Facebook once enjoyed:
It’s now the haven for influencers, celebrities, brands, and of course, everyday individuals across the world.
Blake Chandlee, a former Facebooker who now serves as TikTok’s president of global business solutions, recently explained another important distinction between the two products. Namely, that TikTok is more of an entertainment platform than a social network.
“Facebook is a social platform,” Chandlee said during an interview with CNBC. “They’ve built all their algorithms based on the social graph. That is their core competency. Ours is not. We are an entertainment platform. The difference is significant. It’s a massive difference.”