Creativity is an Import - Export Business

In 1886, Carl Benz is awarded the patent for the the world’s first automobile. A full 10 years before Henry Ford's automobile.

The innovation of Mercedes-Benz continues as they go on to be the first automotive company with a multi valve engine, 4-wheel independent suspension, the crumple zone, a crash-test program, the anti lock braking system, the airbag, and many other features we take as standard in a modern car and the automotive industry. 

If history is a guide to the future, look at where Mercedes-Benz is innovating today to understand where cars are headed tomorrow. (If you’re interested, Top Gear did a great segment on their S-Class in 2010.)

We will take the bold stance that our readers are all quite happy that the car they drive today, which may not be a Mercedes-Benz, has airbags, anti lock brakes, and engines with more than one valve. There is a lot of IP that goes into the production of a car; however, we as a society are quite happy when features transfer from one manufacturer to another.

Which leads us to Instagram Reels. The newest feature of the world's largest social media platform that was heralded as a “dud” by The New York Times. The meme quickly became that Facebook is once again copycating features from another successful social media company

Is Reels innovative? No. Neither was the second car manufacturer who put in airbags or the acquisition of by TikTok that helped propel its growth. The algorithm of TikTok is the innovation they bring to the market and something we wrote about at the start of 2020.

Sometimes it's best to import the features from the market to improve the experience for all those involved. Instagram did this with IG Stories after Snapchat refused to be acquired, and now IG Stories has grown to over 500MM DAU. There is definitely a large degree of overlap in the services, but the consumer experience has improved drastically due to the competition. 

And from a marketing POV, Facebook is still the best algorithmically driven marketing buy available (and every new placement gets access to all the underlying platform data). The same is not true for TikTok, Snapchat, or the next big app (maybe Likee, Triller, or Byte). 

The earlier analysis of Reels as a dud was perhaps off as well.

According to Marketing Brew and analysis done by Whistle Wise,

“Gen Z doesn’t see a huge difference between Reels and TikTok....

As a marketer, it is paramount to understand how features are adopted and incorporated into new platforms. You don’t want to be the lonely company sleeping at the proverbial wheel of what will become the next trend for the largest social media platform. 

And if you do end up falling asleep at the wheel, Mercedes Benz has you covered with a feature from 2017.


Thanks to Clem Onojeghuo for sharing their work on Unsplash

The title is a quote is from Ethan Zuckerman

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