TBH, the mobile polling app that quickly gained teenage users after officially starting in August, saw a dramatic drop in downloads after Facebook bought the company last month, per Advertising Age. TBH went from a No. 1 ranking on the daily download charts a month ago to not even ranking in the top 500 this week, App Annie data show.
TBH reached 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily users in the nine weeks before it was acquired on Oct. 17, making it one of the hottest free apps, TechCrunch reported. The app lets people ask multiple choice questions about friends who receive the poll results as compliments. TBH is among the apps, such as Saraha, Polly, Friendo and After School, that appeal to teens interested in taking snap polls about their friends.
Facebook bought TBH, which was founded by Nikita Bier, Erik Hazzard, Kyle Zaragoza and Nicolas Ducdodon, for less than $100 million, compared with $1 billion for Instagram and $19 billion for WhatsApp.
TBH’s quick fall from the charts isn’t readily explained, except that teens are notoriously fickle in their tastes. By the time a big company has caught on to a trend among teenagers, it usually is passé as the audience moves to the next novelty. That’s the nature of viral growth on social media and the limited attention spans of teenagers who swipe through messages, images and news updates with a quick scan.
Still, Facebook needs to find ways to reach younger audiences who have grown up using Snapchat, the messaging app that's enormously popular among teens. Snap's user baser of about 178 million is a fraction of Facebook's more than 2 billion people. But nearly half — 47% — of teens are more loyal to Snapchat than most other social platforms, per a survey from investment bank Piper Jaffray. This marks an increase of 12 percentage points from a year earlier. Just 24% of teens said Instagram was their favorite social media platform, a rise of 1 percentage point, while both Facebook and Twitter dropped in popularity to 9% and 7%, respectively.
One interesting aspect of Facebook’s purchase of TBH is that the social network hasn't so far knocked off its features, as Instagram does to Snapchat, or Bonfire is said to be doing to Houseparty. Perhaps Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg felt a special affinity with TBH’s polling, considering he once created a rudimentary website to rank his Harvard classmates by appearance. The site placed two pictures of males or females next to each other and asked visitors to choose which one was “hotter.” The site was hugely popular, but also led to complaints about using pictures without permission, according to one account. A precursor to Facebook was born.
Ultimately, polling could be a fad destined to burn out quickly. Does any teenager really want to be ranked last among their friends for questions like “Best to bring to a party?” or “Who has the best smile?” The soul-crushing results and arguments that are bound to ensue seem likely to appeal only to a limited audience.