The world’s hands at entertainment are getting saturated, and there is no doubt about it. This market’s global landscape had changed dramatically since the early 2000s when social media platforms first emerged. Aside from global leaders like Facebook and Twitter, there is a slew of other regionally focused apps available today. Many social media platforms even cater to specific niches and activities. Some social media platforms may not be included in global social media market share statistics. However, they have a sizable regional or niche market share. Most social media platforms are open source in nature. They make money through digital advertisements, data collection, and premium user services (1).
As a sector, social media is complex and fragmented into many different forms. Blogs, forums, business networks, photo-sharing platforms, social gaming, microblogs, chat apps, video-based social apps have grown in popularity. Last but not least, social networks are examples of these (2). The rise of video-based social apps, in particular, has forced many traditional networks to adapt while also providing a new way for retailers and ecommerce businesses to market their goods. Walmart, for example, recently announced a partnership with TikTok, a Chinese video-sharing social networking service, to sell products on the app, months after agreeing to purchase a stake in the company.
Over the last two centuries, creative and literary traditions such as Japanese Haiku poetry and extremely short flash fiction have flourished. The idea of expression through short-form content has come a long way (3) from the six-word story’s brevity back then to introducing a six-second video format on Vine in 2013. While only a few digital content consumers in India are aware of the now-defunct short-form video content platform Vine, Bytedance’s micro-consumption video content application TikTok has been downloaded by 468 million Indians. Gen Z and millennials are a part of the most active users on short-form video creation and sharing platforms (4).
This audience fits the target demographic for short video platforms in India, with short attention spans and a preference for original and niche content. Innovative startups like Clip and Sharechat (5), named Reuters list in 2018, have focused on the country’s regional market spaces to increase user engagement. Bytedance’s Helo and Likee are causing a stir in India’s semi-urban areas while attracting dynamic influencers. The key driver for digital startups in the short-form app market is maximizing audience attention spans while increasing engagement. To achieve massive engagements, interactivity and personalization are essential.
Why are many using such a platform?
In the last six years, there has been a dynamic shift in Indian consumers’ content consumption. According to a Deloitte analysis, the number of smartphone users in India will double in the next four years, reaching 829 million by 2022, accounting for more than 60 percent of the country’s population. According to a KPMG study (6) on India’s digital future, factors such as high smartphone shipments, improved telecom infrastructures, and improved voice and video technology are directly proportional to the popularity of user-generated content in regional languages and improved user experience on short-video apps.
By 2023, India’s OTT market is expected to reach a milestone of 5 billion dollars, up from 500 million dollars in 2018. This is complicated because perhaps the average Indian OTT consumer (7) spends 70 minutes per day, or 12.5 times per week, on online video platforms. Nothing appears to be stopping millennials and Gen Z from making short-form video content platforms more relevant. Users are increasingly moving away from one-sided media distribution and toward highly adaptive media consumption. The gradual switch from horizontal to vertical format arises from a huge low fidelity factor, given the ease of access and increasing reliance on smartphones (8).
Vuclip surveyed Indian consumers to learn more about their digital content consumption habits. According to Monoconcept, 56 percent of Indian viewers prefer to download videos to their smartphones, with 85 percent preferring Snackables or short-form video content. Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Snapchat were among the first social media platforms to recognize the rise of short-form video content in the digital media landscape, introducing Stories as a new feature. Brands are starting to realize that video interaction activities increase user engagement. Consumers have good reason to use such apps because they help them gain social media fame, increase their interaction with followers, and eventually monetize their skills.
The user-friendly technology and simple interface have attracted consumers in many parts of India. The young population is not afraid to use video applications to showcase their skills and join a global network of sector-specific influencers. Another reason why digital media startups are focusing on monetization success by targeting a large audience and producing effective content that drives growth is because of this. When it comes to advertising in India, the advertisement duration trends have shifted slightly in the last two years. In the third quarter of 2019, 66 percent of video advertisements were 30 seconds long, with 15 seconds being the second most popular ad length. In terms of digital advertising, brands are experimenting with innovation in the video content space by creating 5-second ad rolls, thanks to YouTube’s introduction of pre-roll advertisements (9).
Micro-moments are becoming increasingly important in the world of content marketing. Video snippets can drastically alter consumer behavior. Bytedance has outperformed many Indian startups by precisely targeting a diverse market like India through regional and vernacular penetration. By 2021, India’s vernacular consumer segment is expected to grow to 540 million people, accounting for 75 percent of its internet users. The majority of this audience will consume digital content on their smartphones, where digital startups can establish their brand. More certainly, the fame that Tiktok, Bytedance garnered all across the globe spread far and wide. Apps like Instagram, too, started their trend of creating that five-second footage; they called it Reels. After the TikTok ban in India, several new alternatives took the crowd, and reels too came in, making it an official platform for those ex-tiktokers to express their talent.
Recently, Facebook introduced their app dedicated to talent, and talent that could heighten a dying form of music in India. Facebook introduced its app called Bars to the world last month. This app allows one to record rap videos that could allow many to embrace the music art form. Rap is one of many such new music forms in the world that have been popularized worldwide except much in India. There are rappers, but at the cost where it is so underrated. This app could be an innovation towards all those indie rapper artists who have been struggling for a way into the world of recognition and growth (10).
So, what is Facebook Bars?
Bars is the name of the app, and its main selling point is that it provides the beats and allows you to make sixty-second rap videos with them. According to TechCrunch, you can then upload the video to a TikTok-style feed, where people can watch it and rate it based on how good your skills are. The app also promises studio-quality vocal effects, such as real AutoTune. The app promises an auto-rhyme dictionary for those who identify as beginners during the app’s sign-up process. It also promises a Freestyle mode for those closer to the Advanced level, which gives you eight random words to work into a 16-bar off-the-cuff rap (11).
Facebook has launched a new content creation app for aspiring rappers. BARS, unlike TikTok, does not rely on transitions or lip-syncing to create content. The new app, created by Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) Research and development team, allows aspiring rappers to concentrate on the lyrics rather than spending time on expensive equipment, studio bookings, and other expenses. The BARS app is currently in closed beta testing. It is only available in the United States on Apple’s App Store. Users can choose from one of the app’s professionally created beats. To record themselves to these beats, aspiring rappers can concentrate on the lyrics.
Additionally, the app assists rappers in honing their craft by providing auto-suggested rhymes while the user is writing. A challenge mode is also available, in which users can freestyle using auto-suggested word cues. BARS users can also select several audio and visual filters to suit better the rap they’ve recorded. Clean, AutoTune, Imaginary Friends, and AM Radio are all features that can be used to improve audio quality. The beats in Freestyle mode will be updated every week. It’s divided into three sections to make it easier for users to find and select beats for their raps: New, Best, and Trending (12).
Users can export their raps to the camera roll and share them on various social media platforms once they record the video. The app does not require users to have any formal rapping experience to sign up for the closed beta testing. Users can, however, sign up for the app’s waitlist and join it. According to BARS Community Manager DJ Iyer’s blog post, the Covid-19 pandemic was one of the major reasons for the app’s creation.
The BARS app is currently only available for a limited number of iOS users. It is available for download through Apple’s US App Store. You can also join the waitlist through the app. The Facebook NPE team announced Collab in May of last year, and it was released for public use on iOS in December. The team also designed The Collab as a TikTok-inspired app with a focus on music. Apart from Collab and the recently launched BARS, Facebook began testing a “short videos” feature on its platform last year in an attempt to compete with TikTok. Instagram, a subsidiary of the company, added Reels to provide a TikTok-style experience to its users.