Snapchat Spotlight gives TikTok a run for their money

The social media platform is willing to pay millions to stay relevant

Snapchat’s latest feature is the most exciting payment system in social media.
Photo: 

In the 2010s, Snapchat was one of the defining social media platforms. Popularizing filters, stories, and streaks, Snapchat quickly grew to be one of the favourite social media apps for teens and young adults.

However, the rise of TikTok in the past two years has knocked Snapchat from its pedestal. The video-based app that allows anyone to go viral showed huge growth in 2019 and 2020. All the while, Snapchat was beginning to lose users.

In 2021, Snapchat is ready to take back its crown. Similar to Instagram’s addition of Reels, Snapchat had introduced their own content-sharing platform similar to TikTok’s built directly into the app: Spotlight.

Unlike TikTok and Instagram Reels, however, Snapchat Spotlight has a monetary incentive to post.

The appeal of TikTok is that fame is always potentially right around the corner. Unlike most content-based platforms, TikTok’s algorithm is difficult to figure out and it can feel like it’s impossible to predict what will be popular next. Anyone can make a viral video, incentivizing TikTok viewers to post a video or two to see what might happen.

Snapchat Spotlight raises the stakes even higher than fame with the possibility of thousands of dollars for the perfect viral video. When Snapchat announced their Spotlight feature, they also announced a pool of about $1 million USD a day to be distributed to creators who make viral content. Unlike TikTok, this paid feature isn’t limited to people with a certain number of followers. You could post just one viral video and bring in tens of thousands of dollars.

In just a few months of operation, creators have made a fortune through Spotlight. With this news, many more are flocking to the new platform to see if they can strike gold. The draw has been deemed a success by Snapchat, which currently has no end date announced for its million-dollar-a-day distribution.

Spotlight is the most exciting payment system on any social media platform by far, operating more like a lottery than the steady income models provided by platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch.

What Snapchat Spotlight lacks is the addictive quality of TikTok. TikTok has mastered content personalization with the ‘For You’ page, its algorithm figuring out what content you want to see and showing it to you. Scrolling on Snapchat Spotlight won’t give you that same experience.

On Spotlight, you’re watching the same content as everybody else. The videos are, for the most part, generic content like satisfying crafts, dancing teens, and puppies. Every video posted on Spotlight is first put under review, meaning that ‘edgier’ content isn’t going to get through. For older teenagers and young adults, the content on Spotlight probably won’t be very entertaining.

Snapchat isn’t going to be taking away users from TikTok anytime soon. In fact, if you spend a minute or two scrolling through the videos on Spotlight, you’ll notice a lot of them are just reposted videos from TikTok.

While Snapchat’s Spotlight has cracked the code in terms of how to attract content creators back to their app, what they’re missing is how to entice people to view that content. Until Spotlight diversifies what kind of videos you can find on their app, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to convince audiences to make the switch from TikTok.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.