Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, which is nice and all — but for businesses, flattery doesn’t exactly pay the bills. However, when said flattery comes along with massive amounts of new attention from millions of potential new users, a high-profile copycat could actually help more than it hurts.
Data from social media and web analytics firm Topsy indicates that mentions of Snapchat have skyrocketed since Facebook rolled out its Poke app last week. Hat-tip to Bloomberg social media director Jared Keller for who pointed out the shift in a Tweet this morning.
Here is the graph of Snapchat mentions and web searches compared to those of Facebook Poke over the past month:
This seems to indicate that awareness of Snapchat overall is now hitting that “hockey stick” phase that startups and their investors so often dream about. And the buzz is translating into downloads: Today, Snapchat holds the #4 ranking for all free apps on Apple’s iPhone app store, while Facebook Poke is way down at #70. But of course, it’s way too early to crown winners and losers here, as it’s anyone’s guess as to whether this immediate traction will translate into more actual long-term use for Snapchat and, most importantly, financial gain for the startup (Facebook has the money thing pretty well covered already, so any initial lag in user response to Facebook Poke is not exactly a huge material failure for the company.)
But right now it looks like that cheeky “welcome” message Snapchat’s co-founder issued to Facebook last week at the launch of Poke — and the startup’s reported refusal to sell to Facebook earlier this year — may turn out to make a lot of sense.