Lifestage is Facebook’s answer to Snapchat.
The video-only social network, which Facebook discreetly launched in August 2016, allows teenagers to connect with their peers who attend the same school. While the app is certainly modeled after Snapchat’s hold-to-record video interface that’s been so effective at roping in the younger crowed, Lifestage enters the market with its own angle, however slight that may be.
For starters, it’s reserved for users ages 13 to 21 (though the lack of age verification has stirred some concerns over teens’ privacy). Students must attend the same middle or high school to connect with one another, and the app will only work once the school hits 20 users.
Love that movie on TV? Bummed to be studying for a test? The app gives teens a variety of picture frames to add atop their 10-second video clips, with “fields,” or categories, ranging from likes and dislikes to favorite songs to best friends. They can then add text over the endlessly looping video.
The big difference is you don’t share the video with your friends. Instead, peers have to view your profile to watch your videos. There’s currently no text messaging on the app either, so all communication sticks to videos, which, importantly enough, don’t seem to disappear — a surprising departure considering much of Snapchat’s charm lies in its fleeting, unpolished nature.
Lifestage emerges at a time when the social media sites are still abuzz about Facebook’s long-suffering teenage exodus. However, a December 2015 study by Forrester showed that while many teens don’t think Facebook as cool as YouTube or Snapchat, they’re still using it more than ever.
The real impetus for the app, then, is to combat Snapchat’s rise. Apparently the wound of Snapchat’s rejection didn’t healed nicely; in 2013, Snapchat rebuffed a reported $3 billion offer from Facebook to buy out the company. Now Snapchat is worth $20 billion.
Fast forward to earlier this August: Facebook-owned Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, which let users share photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours. Sound familiar?
So far the reviews on Lifestage were less than impressed. The Initial Apple App Store reviews gave it a two-out-of-five star rating, with some users citing the app as “confusing” and “unnecessary.”
Web safety experts criticized the app’s lack of privacy, as people who do not attend a certain high school and are over 21 can simply lie about their age and school district and still sign up.
As a result, the app’s disclaimer reads, “There is no way to limit the audience of your videos. We can’t confirm that people who claim to go to a certain school actually go to that school. All videos you upload to your profile and record are fully public content.”
Lifestage may be tied to a person’s phone number, with only one account per phone number, but the security loopholes appear too easy to exploit. Social media safety gurus have urged heightening kids’ awareness about what personal information they are sharing and with whom.
Influencers on Lifestage
So what’s the influencer potential on Lifestage?
Since there are no metrics available to users, reach and engagement are not trackable. Instead of serving as a place for influencers to grow, it will more likely be harnessed as a means of social amplification among existing influencers.
It’s still too new to get a fair gauge on social media stars’ responses to the new app too. Rest assured, though, Trending Family will track any new developments for the next three months.
Only time will tell if Lifestage will fall in Facebook’s reject pile alongside apps like Poke, Slingshots and Moments, or rise to become teenagers’ next must-have app.
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