Lilian Min
April 02, 2015 3:53 pm

Facebook’s April Fool’s Day announcement was anything but a joke: The social network giant unveiled its latest spin-off app, Riff, which will make a serious play for the packed video sharing market. We know, we know: ANOTHER social network?! But before you write off Facebook’s newest offering, how’s this for a selling point — the ability to create viral-baiting supercuts, not just by yourself, but with your entire friend group.

The deets: Riff will allow users to post up to 20 seconds of video, which can then be shared and added onto by friends. You set the overall chain’s theme, and then creates a clip based on the theme. Then, this is sent out to your entire friend network, and your friends add their own takes on the theme on top of your original clip. Every friend who adds to the chain opens up the potential collaborator pool to their entire friend network. The result: A totally collaborative themed video chain, built on virtual friendships. And while these videos can be posted on Facebook, the actual video editing features will live solely on the Riff app itself, which is now available to download for iOS and Android.

Themed videos, a set video time limit… if this seems like Facebook is borrowing some tricks from rivals Snapchat and Vine, you’d be absolutely right. But Riff does have some significant features that set it apart from other social video apps.

The biggest thing is obviously the collaborating feature. As Facebook Product Manager Josh Miller puts it, “The potential pool of creative collaborators can grow exponentially from there, so a short video can become an inventive project between circles of friends that you can share to Facebook, or anywhere on the internet, at any time.” Snapchat comes close with its Our Story or event-based features, but those are pooled together from strangers, and aren’t easily accessed afterward.

With teens on the fence about Facebook itself, it’s impossible to see Riff as anything but a way for the company to reach out to that younger, more video-savvy audience. Most of the current Twitter search for Riff is a combination of media sites reporting on the new app and hits about rapper Riff Raff, but we won’t know how Riff’s viral aspirations will work until, well, something goes viral. And for that to happen, everyone, but especially teens, needs to start Riffing.

(Images via here and here.)