- Snap plans to let Snapchat users add licensed music to videos they share in the photo-messaging app, a feature that is a key part social video app TikTok. Snapchat this week began testing the feature in Australia and New Zealand, with plans for a rollout to English-speaking regions in the fall, Variety reported.
- With the test feature, smartphone users can swipe on Snapchat messages with music to see more information about the track, including album art, song title and artist. A "Play This Song" button opens a page that lets users listen to the entire track on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music or SoundCloud, per Variety.
- Snap has licensing agreements with music publishers including Warner Music Group, Warner Chappell, Universal Music Publishing Group, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and Merlin. The company has yet to reach deals with Sony Music Entertainment or Universal Music’s recorded music group.
Snap's test of a TikTok-like feature may have several effects on mobile marketers if the rollout proceeds as planned to more markets later this year. The feature may help to boost engagement with Snapchat as more of its users create self-made music and dance videos in messages and Stories, the popular feature that lets people share a single post with multiple friends and followers. Higher engagement and usage would increase the likelihood that marketers reach Snapchat users with their advertising in the app.
It's less clear whether the Snapchat feature will give marketers a way to sponsor branded hashtag challenges that have become popular for boosting publicity on TikTok. Hashtag challenges extend organic reach on TikTok as people urge their friends and followers to participate, often with a chance to win prizes like merchandise. That viral growth depends on video posts lingering on TikTok with no time limit. In contrast, Snapchat posts typically disappear after 24 hours, though public posts shared to the "Our Story" feature can stay on the app until deleted by a user.
Snap's music video pilot follows its recent test of vertical swipe functionality that mirrors a signature TikTok feature, but the company isn't alone in trying to emulate the social video app. With TikTok becoming a global sensation with more than 2 billion estimated downloads in its first two years, other companies are seeking to emulate its key features. Facebook's Instagram this month is set to expand Reels, a rival service that's reportedly been looking to poach top TikTok creators, while Google's YouTube in June started testing an app feature that lets mobile users record and share short videos, mimicking TikTok's key features.
These moves to emulate TikTok come as the app faces growing threats of being banned in more regions due to national security concerns. Those bans create a void that other social media companies can fill with expanded services. TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, and other countries fear that the Chinese government may be able to exploit the personal data that TikTok collects from users. India, the biggest market for TikTok outside of China, already included the app in its ban of Chinese apps following a military clash along its border with China. The ban prompted Facebook to roll out Instagram Reels in India in an attempt to fill the void left by TikTok, Business Insider reported.
The U.S. has been weighing a ban on TikTok, though that threat may be defused as U.S. software giant Microsoft seeks to buy TikTok's operations in several English-speaking countries. A deal with Microsoft would give TikTok's U.S. operations strong financial backing to support user growth and expand its advertising revenue. TikTok's growing popularity, especially among the Generation Z audience, can give mobile marketers another alternative to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.