Now Snapchat has a TikTok copycat, too


For years, social media platforms have blatantly copied some of Snapchat’s most creative features. Instagram and parent company Facebook ripped off Stories — posts that disappear after 24 hours — which Snapchat created in 2013. Others followed suit with their own versions, including YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and just last week, Twitter.

Facebook and Instagram also followed Snapchat in introducing augmented reality filters, another popular Snapchat feature that allows users to overlay their faces with digital crowns, animal ears and other fun modifications.
Now, Snapchat is the one doing the copying.
On Monday, Snapchat unveiled a new section of its app called “Spotlight,” which could be seen as a twist on features from the popular short-form video app TikTok. Snapchat describes Spotlight as “a new entertainment platform for user-generated content within Snapchat.” The hub will surface the “most entertaining” Snaps from its user community and it will be personalized to people’s individual interests over time.
Sound familiar?
It should, as the feature resembles TikTok’s “For You Page,” the main place where people browse content on the platform, which has been lauded for expertly curating content to a user’s personal interests. TikTok also pulls in videos from both big social media stars and users with small followings. Like on TikTok, Snapchat’s Spotlight lets users create or upload a video, add captions, use special effects and add music or original sound.
Snapchat isn’t the only one taking inspiration from TikTok, which has exploded in popularity this year, especially with many people stuck at home during the pandemic. Instagram launched its own TikTok clone called Reels earlier this year, while YouTube began testing a new short-form video product called “Shorts.” These launches have come amid geopolitical turmoil for TikTok and its Chinese parent company, which have faced whiplash and confusion over its future in the United States.
Snapchat users don’t need a public account to be featured in Spotlight. The company said it will moderate every Snap before it makes it to Spotlight, through a combination of human review and its automated systems. Spotlight’s algorithm will take into account the amount of time spent watching a video, if it’s “favorited” or if it’s shared with friends, as well as negative factors such as someone skipping a video. True to Snapchat’s ethos, there won’t be public comments on Spotlight Snaps.
As an incentive for content creators — and average users — to submit their Snaps for consideration, Snapchat will distribute $1 million each day to those who make the most entertaining Spotlight Snaps. The company said rewards will be available at least through the end of the year, and users must be 16 years or older to qualify. While Snapchat wouldn’t share how much an individual person could make from a Spotlight Snap, it said the earnings would be “significant.” The company said earnings are determined by a “proprietary formula” that rewards a Snapchatter largely based on the total number of unique video views the Snap got in a given day compared to other posts.
Creators are a huge part of any social media platform and are increasingly being courted to produce exclusive content. Snapchat’s financial incentive is just the latest example of platforms fighting for online talent. TikTok has also set up a creator fund, which is projected to reach $1 billion in payouts in the US over the next three years, and ahead of Reels’ launch, Facebook reportedly offered money to top TikTok stars to use its competing platform.
Spotlight will initially be available in 11 markets starting Monday, including the US, Canada, Australia and the UK, but will expand to more places soon.