Long before user-created videos lived on a proverbial cloud, ready to be accessible at any time, sharing videos involved bulky recorders, VCR players, and physical dissemination of actual VHS tapes. When significant events occurred around the globe, they were showcased briefly on television, leaving a small window of opportunity to capture such moments permanently via taping them. Otherwise, the ability to relive any moments was non-existent, and certainly not “on-demand”. Frustrated with the status quo, and the inability to easily share video footage from what can only be surmised as a San Francisco house party, two former PayPal employees formulated the basic idea for YouTube. The rest, as they say, is history.
YouTube: The O.G.
In 2004, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen celebrated their success with PayPal (purchased in 2002 by eBay for a cool $1.54 billion) with what can only be imagined as an epic house party. Capturing highlights on video, the duo realized that they could not share their footage with friends easily. The files were too big to attach via email, and would take light years to load into the web. Thus, the need for YouTube was recognized. Along the path to revolution, they picked up third creator, Jawed Karim.
Initially created as a means to host user created videos, the concept of someone other than the website owner creating content was foreign, innovative, and new. In April of 2005, the beta version of YouTube went live. Without a fancy video recommendation algorithm, videos were initially randomly selected for viewers to watch. Limited in the scope of videos, this often resulted in redundancies, and repetitive content. With initial large-scale investments rolling in, YouTube continued to grow, as more and more users discovered the ability to share life’s moments with the world. Finally engaging in active marketing efforts, YouTube’s first press release leveraged the company as “a consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos through a Web experience.”
Ease of use set YouTube apart from the sea of other primitive video sharing sites. Without any knowledge of Flash or coding, users could easily upload videos in any format, and YouTube’s elves magically took care of the rest. Additionally, the website readily featured the popular view count, URLs for easy sharing, and the ability to embed videos into other sites, including the popular Myspace.
Soon, the site started receiving paid advertising, interest from corporate channels, and sponsorship deals. YouTube swiftly became an industry disruptor, and formulated the way that the general public consumes video content. With YouTube channels creating segments, talk shows, and long-form content, watchability extended beyond a mere few minutes. The site has morphed into the Founding Father of video sharing platforms, and continues to serve as the standard for video sharing.
Instagram And Snapchat: FOMO Leaders
Launched for a younger demographic who didn’t want to share Facebook space with their grandparents, Instagram and Snapchat readily harnessed the growing fear of missing out. Sprouting from a culture already used to video sharing, both platforms leveraged the cultural popularity of social media, and the FOMO trend, to create videos that lasted for only 24 hours.
Instagram launched the “Stories” function in 2016, and now boasts more than 500 million unique Stories created daily. The company initially released a 15 second video-sharing capability in 2013. With continued demand for longer video sharing capability, Instagram upgraded this function to allow for 60 seconds of video. The “Albums” feature, released in 2017, allows users to share up to 10 minutes of video in a singular post. However, Instagram’s Stories function truly captured the spirit of the evolution of video sharing. The limited time availability of Stories, decreased even further through live broadcasting of Stories, created a sense of urgency for users who were worried about missing their favorite creators’ content.
Touted as the biggest competitor to Instagram’s Stories, Snapchat exists as the yin to Instagram’s yang. Propelling the popularity of FOMO, Snapchat was originally launched in 2011 by three Stanford University students as a platform for users to share disappearing content. In the company’s initial days, Snapchat was leveraged as a way for users to share real, authentic, and unfiltered images with their communities in the moment, without having to commit to the permanence of sharing less-than-perfect content forever. A year after Snapchat’s launch, the company integrated video into the platform, and saw the numbers climb. With their own Stories function launched in 2013, Snapchat became a staple for disappearing content.
TikTok And Zynn: Self-Expression Seekers
Founded in 2016, at a time when short-video sharing was already well popularized, TikTok emerged as a viral sensation. Shortly after being launched, various viral “challenges” drew growing numbers of active participants to the app, leveraging the power of camaraderie, and fear of missing out, to create must-see trending videos. From dance challenges to lip syncing videos, TikTok quickly grew as a means for self-expression, talent sharing, and showcasing unique skills and interests.
With over 80 million downloads in the United States, TikTok became adapted by celebrities, Influencers, and professional organizations. Merging with Musical.ly in 2018, TikTok broadened its fan base through the acquisition of Musical.ly’s accounts, and combined the two similar platforms to form a comprehensive user experience. Maintaining Musical.ly’s most popular “Duet” function, TikTok allowed users to create split screen videos, urging collaboration between creators.
TikTok’s interface allows users to personalize videos easily through extensive editing tools, filters, stickers, and even audio editing capabilities. These self-expression tools allow users to showcase their unique personality and preferences, while creating appealing videos for viewers. The app’s sleek interface allows for videos to be the main focus and attraction, streamlining usability in the process.
As the newcomer to the short-video sharing world, Zynn’s unique mission statement and focus on inclusivity and diversity of content is rendering the newly released app wildly successful. Launched mere months ago, Zynn leverages similar short-video functionalities and fun capabilities as TikTok, but takes self-expression and authenticity to a new level. The app provides opportunity for personalization through video editing tools, magic effects, audio soundtrack creation, and a barrage of stickers. Zynn also fosters interaction between creators, viewers, and the entire Zynn community through easy to use functions, and utilizes a sleek minimalist design.
Unlike competitors, though, Zynn propels diversity through a bespoke video recommendation algorithm. This unique algorithm does not favor sponsored content, Influencer uploaded videos, or other content that would be pronounced on other platforms. Instead, Zynn’s innovative algorithm weighs all videos equally, rendering user created videos an equal opportunity to be seen by a certain number of viewers, regardless of follower count, profile statistics, or any other metrics.
For novice creators, or those interested in very niche topics, this focus on equality encourages users to create content, with the confidence that their authentic clips will be seen. On the other hand, this translates to a diverse array of videos recommended for viewers. Showcasing all sorts of recommended videos to users, Zynn ensures that content recommendations never get stale, repetitive, or otherwise uninteresting.
These factors have led to Zynn being revered as a platform for users to be authentic, for diversity and celebration of all users, and for a progressive app that focuses on the user experience. With such importance placed on social visibility, inclusivity, and the creation of an active and engaged community, Zynn is undoubtedly the future of video sharing platforms, and will serve as a benchmark for innovation.