In an attempt to maintain their success as well as change the ways users record and edit videos on social media, Facebook unleashed its newest application, Riff, recently. Riff is a platform for creating videos of a collaborative nature with the intent to make them as viral as possible.

How it works

As opposed to other video apps that focus on individual creativity (such as Vine), Riff videos are supposed to be more of a conversational style. Users respond to different topics with 20-second original clips that are to be taken instantly. No features for uploading of pre-recorded videos nor any sort of editing are available.

Given these limitations, creating a video on the app is quick and easy. The screenshots below are a step-by-step of the process in beginning a video thread. After creation, users can press the blue “plus” button to add their own spin on the idea.


I chose “What I do for a living” because it was a suggested hashtag. The point is that I share the video with other users about what they do for a living in under 20 seconds.

This is very different from most social networking applications. There isn’t a way to designate a preference of certain videos over others. The only metrics available to users are how many responses, as well as views, the thread has.

Riff administrators select four videos that they deem funniest to display as “featured” ones upon opening of the app. However, aside from this, all videos are on the same playing field.

The point is to share ideas in a fun and inviting virtual environment. Users are encouraged to tag their friends, and as you can guess, there is Facebook integration, so videos can be shared to the site.


The app currently is at a 2/5 star status on the App Store based on user reviews.

A big complaint is the lack of the ability to browse the public’s videos. While featured videos are on the home screen, and users can share their videos with friends, there’s no way to search hashtags or scroll through categories. This being said, there is little potential for video threads to go viral without them being shared individually.

Multiple reviewers referenced a competing app, Weev, as it more effectively accomplishes the goals of Riff. One commenter stated that Weev “has an amazing community that really understands collaborative social video communication.”

My opinion

Personally, the bright colors and cartoon-like interface appeal to me. It gives off the vibe that the service is geared towards younger users, which for Facebook is important.

Many users of my generation as well as older crowds use Facebook daily, however it’s possible that its popularity could diminish among young teenagers just getting into social media as new services emerge. Riff draws these types of crowds to the application in order to maintain the relevancy of Facebook Inc. in the lives of all users, age-independent.

However, the potential for the app to succeed seems limited considering Facebook designated it as just “a side project.”

Riff is an addition to Facebook’s long history of added endeavors, like Paper and Hyperlapse, among others, all of which have had varying levels of success. It’s surprising to me that such a huge social network has invented a new application with presumably the hopes to make it succeed, however they aren’t treating it as if it has the potential to be life-changing.

Have you used Riff yet to share videos with friends? Tweet me your thoughts @meganminier or leave a comment below!