TikTok to take on Instagram with a photo app

TikTok to take on Instagram with a photo app

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

The company says it’s working on a “dedicated space” for images and text.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram U-turn on changes after reactions.

TikTok says it hasn’t finalized the design of the Notes app, and hasn’t confirmed a release date.

But notifications received by some users suggest the app will allow users to upload or share photo posts – which is currently a feature of the TikTok app and allows people to post a series of images with sound and filters.

A screenshot of the notification shows a toggle on the notification that allows TikTok users to opt out of having their photos shared to the app.

Social media consultant Matt Navarra says the text or photo app is probably a space where the majority of TikTok users who “stalk”, rather than post, will engage more.

But he said he doesn’t think another photo-sharing app is something social media users are “desperate” for.

“We have a lot of them, so I don’t think there’s a demand for that out there,” 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 the 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 user scrutiny,” said Jasmine Enberg, principal social media analyst at Intelligence Insider.

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

Mike Proulx suggests the best way for TikTok is to copy what Meta is doing with its Twitter rival, Threads, where it leans heavily on Instagram’s existing user base.

“But like Threads, the key is to create an experience that’s interesting enough to get them attached to TikTok Notes beyond the initial curiosity factor,” he added.

“As social media features become ubiquitous, the things that distinguish one social media platform from another are shrinking. It depends on the community, the user experience, and, yes, the algorithm.”

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