The winds of change are blowing hard at the onset of 2020.
Just days ago we reported about TikTok overtaking Facebook to become the 2nd most-downloaded app in the world. In the same week, we learned that Instagram’s growth is stalling and Pinterest has become the 3rd biggest social media platform in the US.
“The news is a significant shake-up in the social media pecking order,” said Business Insider’s Tyler Sonnemaker. With eMarketer projecting a continued decline for Instagram, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel added fuel to the fire by suggesting TikTok could dethrone Instagram.
“I think it’s certainly possible” TikTok could become bigger than Instagram, Spiegel said during a fireside chat at the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference in Germany.
“Social media in its original construct is really about status, representing who you are, showing people that you’re cool, getting likes and comments, those sorts of things,” he explained. “This talent-based content is often more interesting than status-based content.”
Instagram and TikTok appear to be neck and neck in terms of monthly active users, with both sitting at around 1 billion. App intelligence company App Annie ranks TikTok just behind Instagram in terms of active users in 2019. TikTok’s download count is closing the gap on Instagram, overtaking Instagram on the list of most-downloaded social media apps.
For publishers who are heavily invested in the Facebook ecosystem, this may serve as a wake-up call, as platforms that were not remotely considered a threat even a year ago, are now often taking the lead.
Facebook, for its part, is pulling out all stops to mimic TikTok’s success. After unsuccessfully trying to acquire Musical.ly, the app which would eventually become TikTok, Facebook launched a standalone video-sharing app called Lasso, aiming to capture the markets where TikTok did not yet have a foothold. Recently, Instagram began testing a new feature called Reels in Brazil that’s widely perceived to be a TikTok clone.
TikTok meanwhile is looking at developing a feed of curated content, which would display selected, original videos from popular TikTok creators, alongside content from professional publishers. This would also help to attract more top-tier advertisers.
“The benefit of a dedicated, curated content stream could be that it both provides a showcase for top content, which could be popular in itself, and could also provide extra reach for top creators, keeping them active in the app. While it would additionally facilitate a brand-safe stream for advertisers,” said Andrew Hutchinson, Head of Content and Social Media at Social Media Today
“It’s exciting to see the creativity coming from our publisher community and the successes they’ve experienced,” TikTok said. “We’re looking forward to continuing to work with them as this community grows.”
The platform is also exploring strategies for effectively monetizing its business, and TikTok’s global monetization team is talking to creators and influencers to gain further insights. It also has plans to launch new features that would enable brands to get more information on influencers and their user base.
The company is “constantly looking to innovate the way that the platform aids in discovery,” said Bryan Thoensen, who leads content partnerships for TikTok.
On the other hand, Instagram was recently in the news only because it had to remove the IGTV button from the top of its app, since no one was using it anyway. IGTV was supposed to be Instagram’s YouTube alternative and was launched to great fanfare, but it failed to gain much traction.
While Instagram’s growth is stalling, TikTok is garnering kudos from the competition.
“I love TikTok,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said, “I’m a big fan.”
You can watch the full fireside chat with Evan Spiegel here: