Every year, Fast Company compiles a 50-company list of “The World’s Most Innovative Companies.” It surveys the business universe for companies whose products and business strategies have made the greatest impact.
Innovation in social media likely has one of the most significant impacts of any digital workplace. Why? Social media is increasingly expanding the category of social media itself. Think of it as technology news, a way to get in touch with friends and crowd-share opinions a la Twitter? Not anymore. Social media is blazing a trail in how information gets disseminated and re-envisioning what functions are performed via its channel.
Here is an overview of the Top Three most innovative social media companies on Fast Company’s list.
Snap: Constant Innovation
Snap Inc. is the #1 most innovative company in the social media sector according to the magazine. It’s the parent of Snapchat, the most popular social media platform among Millennials and teenagers.
The chief selling point of Snapchat is one of its major innovations: its social media messages disappear in a matter of seconds. In a sense, Snap Inc. did what many business innovators have done throughout history: find a gap in the available products and fill it. The gap was a concern that Facebook users couldn’t get rid of messages or pictures that didn’t fit their current life or profile. In walked Snapchat.
Snapchat also innovated messages themselves. Users are able to add animation and drawings to pictures.
Perhaps most significantly, Snapchat, too, is a purveyor of news, just like the newsstands of yore. Its two-year-old Snapchat Discover markets a “front page” composed of short-form stories from sites like BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, and ESPN.
Look for Snap Inc. to innovate even more in the future. Its CEO Evan Spiegel believes that is the way to ensure that Snapchat isn’t a fad is to constantly innovate.
Facebook: Many Different Pies
Facebook is the grand-daddy of U.S. social media. But remember, it’s the grand-daddy in a very young family, so its innovation makes it the #2 social media company on the list. For the past decade-plus, Facebook has pioneered social media advertising, news and has been at the forefront of internet provision in developing countries, and had stakes in artificial intelligence (IA) and virtual reality (VR).
Facebook has become a player in multiple companies under its umbrella. It owns Instagram, itself a highly popular, picture-and-short-message social media channel. It also owns Oculus Rift, a state-of-the-art VR headset that became available last year. Since many observers think virtual reality is the next big thing, Facebook has a chance to define it through its products.
Tencent: Redefining the Reach of the App
Tencent is a China-based company. Its social media arm is the WeChat messaging app. It has significant global reach: in China, the number of users exceeds the number of smartphones. But its real innovation is that the app extends the reach of a social media app. WeChat is a social media platform, but users can also read restaurant reviews, pay for a restaurant dinner, and get a cab to get there, all within the app itself.
Its sister messaging app QQ, which has 877 million users, also extends the reach of social media by linking to Tencent’s mobile games. Its Honor of Kings game was a top seller in China last year. Tencent plans to expand even more into mobile games with the joint purchase of Supercell, Finland’s leading gaming company. From there, Tencent plans to move into content creation for film and television based on its popular gaming titles.
Innovative social media companies are increasingly redefining the social media landscape and creating products that will reshape the world going forward.