Video creators are more interested in Byte, an upcoming mobile video app from the creators of Vine, than they are about Facebook’s latest attempt to clone a competitor.
On Nov. 9, Facebook quietly released a new app called Lasso for creating and watching short-form videos. Like TikTok and Vine, Lasso videos loop and are categorized by hashtags. The app comes as TikTok continues to surge in the U.S., surpassing Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube in terms of downloads in September, according to data from Sensor Tower. For Facebook, that’s a direct threat to the attention of smartphone owners.
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The launch of Lasso has piqued the curiosity of video creators, but the initial interest is somewhat subdued. A video creator, who has worked on short-form content for years, described Lasso upon download as a “regurgitated version of Vine, Musical.ly and Instagram’s Explore” page. (They requested anonymity in case their job requires them to work on Lasso.) “I didn’t see anything new, just recreated versions of videos that are already past their prime and that have lost the shock value. Honestly, felt like it was trying really hard to be relevant,” the creator said.
Other creators echoed the lukewarm reception for Lasso. But their tunes change when talking about Byte, an upcoming mobile video app from a founder of Vine.
On Nov. 8, the day prior to Lasso’s launch, Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann tweeted the name of his new project, a “new looping video app,” said it will launch in spring 2019. In a Product Hunt poll asking what short-form video app people are most excited about, Byte received 47 percent of 1,749 votes compared to TikTok, Lasso and Giphy.
Gregory Littley, a digital marketer and content creator, discovered Lasso during a conversation about Byte over the weekend. He said he’s excited for Hofmann’s new app in part due to the nostalgia surrounding it.
“It’s been a while since there’s been a platform that had a lot of organic love and organic celebration. We don’t necessarily touch a lot of nostalgia on social media because it’s so fleeting, but there’s a groundswell for the love and functionality for Vine that’s coming through with Byte,” Littley said.
“The next big thing in video isn’t going to be like anything we currently know. I have faith that Byte is going to be significantly different from social video apps we currently have,” said the anonymous creator.
In the meantime, the creators have Lasso, which has received 5,000 downloads since launch, according to Apptopia. Facebook courted a small group of creators, many of which are popular on TikTok, to use Lasso, but is not paying the creators any money to use the app, a company spokesperson said.
One way Lasso can differentiate from competitors is by not focusing on lip-synching. TikTok, an app from Chinese tech company Bytedance, merged with lip-syncing app Musical.ly on Aug. 2. While Lasso features that genre and TikTok offers more than that these days, Facebook seems to be emphasizing storytelling put to music, Littley said. Lasso has access to music libraries through Facebook’s licensing deals with the major labels. TikTok also has a library of songs, but creators say Facebook’s experience seems more seamless, for now.
Nicky Baber, one of Lasso’s “Star Creators,” has posted 32 videos on the app, mostly comedy sketches on topics like online dating, school and baking. Through her handle @attemptingla, she’s active on Instagram.
“I absolutely love the app so far and I have confidence that it’s going to be the next big social media platform,” she emailed. When asked why she liked Lasso so much, she replied, “No further comment at this time. You can contact [Facebook public relations] for a future interview or information.”
Some Lasso “Star Creators” might be tight-lipped because the app didn’t launch with much fanfare. There was no press release or flashy event, unlike IGTV — just a quiet rollout with promises to test and learn as Facebook tries to grow the app.
Littley joined Lasso on Saturday and said he’s still thinking about his first post.
“I try to walk in with a positive outlook. At the end of the day, these platforms are providing us unique interesting ways to tell our stories. Looking at the business side, it gets darker, but from a user perspective, more types of ways people can communicate is good,” Littley said.
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