After Facebook launched Slingshot a lot of mixed reviews came in, especially since it was a similar application as Snapchat which refused to be acquired by the the social media giant. We got two agency owners to share their views on this development and how it could be of help to users and marketers; Saurabh Parmar, Founder, Brandlogist and Samir Asher, Co-Founder & COO, Tonic Media shed light on positives and negatives about the launch of slingshot for brands and users.
Slingshot appears to be a Snapchat competitor & not having the first mover advantage here, Facebook has tried to differentiate Slingshot from the popular Snapchat. In terms of the difference between these two, there is a lot of tech jazz in terms of text size, drawing tool, control etc. but for the purpose of this piece, let me stick to the basics & more importantly what it means for you as a consumer/marketer.
Slingshot is much more polished. The app’s speed, the slick imagery, the variation in font, etc makes it a much better user experience compared to Snapchat. It even tries to look towards the future with a clear difference between posts & messages. So in the look & feel department, Slingshot is a clear winner. But an app is not about how it looks but what it makes a consumer feel. And that’s where slingshot seems to lose out on a highly critical area.
In the desire to differentiate themselves from Snapchat, they have done 2 very different things:
Making it more difficult to communicate:
In Slingshot, you can’t view an incoming “shot” until you send a shot back to the sender. To view your friend’s picture (you initially get only a blurred one), you need to send one of yours. This potentially could create more content but just makes it difficult to easily communicate, which is the point of an application like Snapchat.
Slingshot has a ‘Select All’ button:
Unlike Snapchat, Slingshot has a ‘Select All’ button which means you can push more notifications & also receive more messages. On top of this, there is no approval process for adding connections. Anyone can send messages to anyone whose information they have, which means more incoming messages. You can of course, choose to ignore all those messages but it’s a bit more irritating.
Slingshot’s chances of success
At the end of the day Slingshot’s success is going to be based on getting to the critical number of users after which it truly starts spreading. That’s true for any social platform but more for a platform like Slingshot where you have to ‘Pay to Play’ & the growth would be slow in the beginning, but if at all it reaches the critical mass, it can literally go viral & among apps become possibly one of the highest content creators. But in the current avatar, it doesn’t seem it will do so.
For the User
It feels so much like Snapchat but will end up disappointing the young user who is a Snapchat fan because despite the looks the features are quite different. In their bid to distinguish themselves, Facebook has created a different product without a single strong reason for users to download & use it.
For the Marketer
From a marketer’s perspective they can look at campaigns which play on the product’s primary feature – Gamifying content creation. But that too will require a strong user base.
Slingshot-The Missed Shot
After Snapchat refused the three billion dollar buyout, Facebook had no choice but to create their own version of the application, keeping in mind the rise of single purpose applications in the market. But will it live up?
Slingshot couldn’t, probably capitalize on what Snapchat did which brings us to two heavy concerns: unlike Snapchat, Slingshot is a mass market brand and for any spin offs to succeed on Facebook it needs to have a wider appeal. Secondly, user to user interaction approach on both the platforms is massively different.
More Social Less Private
In today’s social media scenario, teenagers are increasingly looking for applications that are more intimate, one that safegaurds their privacy, and gives them a chance to express more freely.
In Slingshot the user can search and view connections of people they know. Unlike Snapchat, here the user does not need an approval to add connections. They can send messages to anyone, whose username/ information they have.
Secondly, Slingshot allows users to automatically save all the photos and videos received on the app and the sender isn’t even notified. With this, Facebook has completely missed the objectives that Snapchat has been banking on.
No Text Messaging!
One of the more useful features of Snapchat is its chat function. However, in Slingshot you can only respond through a reaction that appears as a combination of two messages you send!
Forcing Users To Exchange Content
Tiesto, the world renowned DJ has thousands of connections on snapchat. He gets a notification from fans every second, updating him on how much they love his music. Now imagine him using Slingshot, he would have to reply to thousands of messages just to open the message and see it!
The biggest roadblock in Slingshot is that the user has to reply first with a photo or video, in order to open a message from a friend. The users need to trade content, which makes Slingshot an aggressive application, forcing users to send out content.
There isn’t any doubt that Slingshot is a far more beautiful interface. Its clean and minimalistic with excellent navigation. However, the app fails to give users privacy, intimacy and exclusivity that’s so quintessential of Snapchat. If the question is about survival, Slingshot may not have a great chance, unless users are ready to create content in order to consume it.
What do you think about the comparisons made above? Do share your thoughts in comments section below.