- US government is considering TikTok ban
- TikTok is a major channel for the sports industry
- Snap pioneered the Stories format and has invested heavily in AR tech
Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel would “love” the US government to ban rival TikTok, but warned such a course of action would set a dangerous precedent with regard to the regulation of social media and technology.
Having almost forced a sale of the business during the Trump Administration, the US government has recently renewed hostilities with Chinese-owned TikTok over national security concerns.
Specifically, the US has concerns about parent company ByteDance’s privacy practices and alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and is pressing ahead with legislation that would outlaw the use of the TikTok app.
Snap would be one of the greatest beneficiaries of a ban on its rival, with its feature set offering a home to TikTok users and content creators looking for a new outlet. Snapchat would also become an even more important channel for sports rights holders and brands looking to reach Gen Z audiences via social media.
Spiegel’s comments were made at the Snap Partner Summit, during which the company made a series of feature announcements and changes to its creator programme which it hopes will engage and attract Gen Z audiences to its platform – regardless of any action taken by Washington.
Among the slate of new features are upgrades for Snapchat’s much-copied ‘stories mode’, including the ability for anyone over 18 to post ‘public’ stories that can reach a wider audience.
There’s also an update to ‘Snap Maps’ that encourages users to explore nearby places of interest, such as a sports stadium, gym or recreational ground, while also allowing users to link certain posts to real world locations to drive views. This will inevitably lead to promotional content opportunities and the ability to drive word-of-mouth recommendations for certain events.
Snap is also doubling down on its investments in augmented reality (AR) as a way to differentiate its product and allow users to create new types of content. It is introducing new AR lenses powered by generative artificial intelligence (AI) that transform users and surroundings into an animated sci-fi themed setting – a feature that could eventually be applied to major sporting events.
Meanwhile, Snap’s AR Enterprise Services (ARES) is creating new retail tools that allow users to view and try on clothing items digitally using AR. The technology can be integrated into retailer’s own websites and applications, and could drive sales of merchandise such as replica shirts.
To complement these content creation tools, Snap is also launching new initiatives designed to help creators and brands monetise their activity – and prevent them from prioritising other social platforms that might generate more revenue.
Creators who have at least 50,000 followers, 25 million monthly views and post at least ten stories a month could now be eligible for Snap’s revenue share programme.
You’d be hard pressed to find a rights holder of any note without a presence on TikTok. Its ability to reach younger users who don’t engage with traditional television or other social media platforms is unmatched, while its algorithmic approach to content delivery helps find engaged audiences.
In addition to organic content creation, TikTok has formal arrangements with the Women’s Six Nations, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the PGA Tour, while many other rights holders and broadcasters use the platform as part of their digital content strategy.
TikTok is used for everything from behind-the-scenes content to highlights and live streams, while athletes and influencers are also prominent users of the platform. The loss of such a valuable channel would be of huge concern to the industry already grappling with how it attracts new fans in an era in which there is so much competition for their attention.
However, Snapchat is clearly waiting in the wings, hoping its robust feature set, coupled with AR and AI capabilities that not even TikTok has, will make it the obvious choice for any great social migration.