By Syed Shah

What started as a primarily college-centered social media website has grown into the dominant social media conglomerate. Facebook has acquired Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus totaling $24 billion in revenue while not selling any physical products. Earlier this week, WhatsApp, a popular messaging app owned by Facebook, rolled out a beta of their own version of Snapchat’s My Story.

Snapchat, a trendy photo, and video, sharing social media app, has been on the rise since its conception back in 2012. Evan Spiegel, and a few of his classmates from Stanford, came up with the initial idea of Snapchat and it slowly progressed from there. However, Snapchat has been under scrutiny due to the use of the app. Some users use it to keep in constant contact with their friends, while others utilize this app to send scandalous pictures and videos to their significant others.

In October 2013, Snapchat revealed a new feature: My Story, as a way to share content to all your friends for a 24-hour period span versus sending an individual picture, or video, to select users. This feature conflicted with the original purpose of Snapchat, which was meant to be quick, personal interactions. My Story evolved and added a new interaction called Discover. These are dedicated Stories from various news and entertainment companies updating daily, as well as Stories for special occasions.

Facebook offered Spiegel a generous $3 billion to purchase the company, but the offer was declined, leading Zuckerberg to purchase WhatsApp for $22 billion. Facebook ultimately acquired Instagram in the years to follow. Instagram, another popular social media app, released their own version of My Story nearly identical to Snapchat earlier this year. While the features between the apps differ slightly in regards to who can view the story and the time span, the overall concept is the same.

Facebook and Snapchat have been in stiff competition with each other to reach as many users as possible. Even with 100 million active consumers on Snapchat, Facebook’s empire has over 2 billion users and is constantly growing. Facebook strategically linked both Facebook and Instagram together in order to increase the amount of users. A majority of the revenue generated by Facebook is due to ad revenue from both its newly launched Messenger app and Instagram app. Facebook plans to also monetize the billions of WhatsApp users with the same proven methods.

While Facebook has dedicated space for advertisements, Snapchat uses its new Discover feature to promote certain brands and events. Creative filters are another way for Snapchat to endorse products and services in order to increase their revenue. Instagram has not implemented filters yet but based on their history, it will surely come soon enough.

Snapchat is proof that gaining a competitive advantage over your competitors certainly works. Even with all these other apps copying Snapchat’s My Story, Snapchat is still the commonly used app. Facebook still dominates the social media world with both Facebook and Instagram, but its acquisitions of both WhatsApp and Oculus show that they are not stopping anytime soon.