News

POV: Facebook launches Lifestage

Background:

Facebook recently launched a new app called Lifestage. Created by Michael Saymen a 19 year old Product Manager, Lifestage is a social network aimed at video loving teens, ultimately reinventing what Facebook would look like if it was built around the currency of today’s digital world of snackable video. Lifestage mimics the early days of Facebook by only displaying your video profile (yes, the original Facebook first page before the newsfeed took over) and its popularity is built around connecting with your high-school peers.

Details and Implications:

What is the purpose of Facebook building Lifestage and what does it mean for the marketing community?

Journalists covering the launch are describing it in many ways; as a Snapchat copycat, a laboratory experiment on the social behaviours of under 21 year olds, and as a play to make the younger end of the community think that Facebook is still cool and relevant.

It is certainly similar to Snapchat in look and feel, although every app which focuses on snackable video is going to have that comparison. The main difference between Lifestage and Snapchat is that Lifestage plays into a different consumer insight, “who are you?” not “what are you doing right now?” For example, for a topic like ‘My favourite concert’, instead of checking in at the Adele concert at the O2, you have a short video of you there, singing along to your favourite song with your best friend.

As anyone over the age of 21 can only view their own profile, its growth as a social network is obviously somewhat limited. Therefore it should perhaps be viewed as a starter app, something which will gain traction based on initial publicity, but will evolve as usage increases.

For marketers, official rules around involvement are somewhat unclear, although it seems like the perfect opportunity for influencer marketing through product placement in the videos. Either a groundswell of the young discovering a “new” amazing product simultaneously, or someone who is already young and famous casually promoting the latest thing in their profile videos.

Summary:

When you are Facebook you can afford to make bets like this. A chance to give a young Product Manager with a history of success a chance to try something with the backing and resources of a FTSE 100 company. After all, it may evolve into the next Snapchat and save Facebook millions in acquiring whatever the next Snapchat turns out to be. In the meantime, Lifestage is the biggest live action social lab in the world for the young, as well as being a great source of PR – arguably a win-win situation for Facebook.