Facebook has come up with a new way to remain relevant to younger demographics, launching a new app which is known as Lifestage.
The social media giant acquired Instagram for $1billion in 2012, and WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, in an attempt to stay cool. However it is a constant battle to appeal to the changing tastes of teenagers, and Facebook executives apparently thought that a new app was necessary.
Facebook targets younger demographics
Teenagers are constantly looking for the next hot app, and the increasing number of adults on Facebook only serves to reduce its street cred. That is a situation that the social network wants to correct with a new app known as Lifestage, which is a video-focused social network that makes a video profile from short videos uploaded by the user.
TechCrunch ran the first report on the app, which will be available to people who don’t have a Facebook profile. To make your Lifestage profile all you have to do is answer some questions about your personal tastes and other traits, responding to each question with a video response. Lifestage will then put these videos into the correct fields on your profile.
The new app is the work of 19-year-old prodigy Michael Sayman, who was contracted by Facebook after his 4Snaps app became so popular that it crashed the Parse app platform offered by the social media giant. Lifestage is aimed at high school students, and asks users which educational institutional they attend to encourage them to meet and get to know their peers.
Adults can’t see other peoples’ profiles
Each new high school must have 20 users signed up before its network will go live, which provides an incentive for early adopters to convince others to sign up. The home feed in the app shows recent profile updates, allowing users to explore the latest version of profiles.
This also means that those aged 22 and above can’t gain access to much functionality on Lifestage. While adults can make themselves a profile, they won’t be able to look at other users’ pages. Another security feature means that users can flag any user that appears to be pretending to be a teenager.
App developer Sayman says that he didn’t build in a direct messaging feature because “my friends and I have a bajillion messaging apps we already use and love, so what’s the point of having another messaging app? It just seems annoying to me.”
Young developer Sayman just 19 years old
To initiate contact, there is a line of text called “Reach Me” that has space for Instagram or Snapchat handles. Interestingly Facebook has been trying to counter the popularity of Snapchat for a while, and it looks like Lifestage is the latest attempt.
However Sayman does not seem worried about Snapchat. “I think of it like really great competition. They’ve got a great product and there’s a lot to learn…about how people have started to evolve the video space,” he said.
The timing of the announcement, on Friday afternoon, is curious. It’s almost as if Facebook doesn’t want to make a huge play with Lifestage. One possibility is that the social media giant is going to use Lifestage as an experiment in building video into its profiles.
After all, Mark Zuckerberg has expressed his desire to have “video at the heart of all our apps and services.”