People are spending more time on TikTok than on Facebook

App Annie’s State of Mobile 2021 Report says the average US user spent 21.5 hours per month on TikTok compared to 17.7 hours on Facebook in 2020.

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Robert Huot
Influence
March 20, 2021 5:02 pm

The time people are spending on TikTok is a crystal clear signal to other social media giants to replicate its features. We have seen various platforms trying to replicate the ‘magic’ of TikTok. Initially I was going to list some of the platforms that have copied TikTok. But the more I looked into it, the more I realize they have all copied each other. Here are some examples below:

Instagram Reels: Instagram initially copied Snapchat’s functionality in its release of Instagram Stories, and now it has copied TikTok with the release of Reels. Earlier Instagram had released IGTV, a place to upload long-form video content. So it is trying its best to capture as much market share away from TikTok (short-form video) and YouTube (long-form video). Reels is a TikTok copycat, but in Instagram style. You can share your Reel onto the Explore section or onto your Feed.

Twitter Fleets: Fleets is a new Twitter feature that lets you post tweets that disappear after 24 hours. The ephemeral nature of a Fleet will remind you of Snapchat, Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories and a WhatsApp status update. All of these are short-lived posts that are erased after a certain time period. However the user experience copies TikTok. To see new videos on your TikTok feed or ‘For You’ page, just scroll up. Do the same when moving from one Fleet to the next πŸ˜‰ If you feel Twitter has outright stolen TikTok’s user interface, don’t feel too bad. Remember TikTok copied Vine, a now defunct app that was acquired by Twitter in 2012.

YouTube Shorts: No this isn’t branded clothing πŸ˜‚ YouTube Shorts is YouTube’s answer to TikTok. I’m not sure how to describe this other than it’s TikTok but on YouTube. Interestingly it looks like the magic of TikTok can easily be copied. I have spent too much time on YouTube shorts watching short-form video after short-form video.

What we’re seeing is a convergence of features among the biggest platforms. There is a running joke that if Facebook can’t acquire a feature, it will copy it. Short-form video has taken the world by storm, resulting in development teams deploying short-form features into their apps. Some put their own spin on it while others have essentially integrated a TikTok clone into their app ecosystems. Even LinkedIn has LinkedIn Stories, which allows users to post content that stays up for 24 hours. This was something I didn’t expect. LinkedIn has tried hard to maintain a professional image. What next? Short-form videos lip syncing to “Say So” by Doja Cat before having an interview? πŸ˜… Surely these platforms can at least try to distinguish themselves by using a word other than ‘Stories’!

Rayan Tanwar
Influence
March 21, 2021 9:47 pm

One advantage TikTok has over Facebook is celebrity culture. I don’t use TikTok that much but I have heard of the Hype House, a mansion in which TikTok influencers live together and collaborate to make TikToks multiple times a day. We have all heard of Instagram influencers and YouTubers, but a Facebooker or Facebook influencer? Not so much.

I can name Charli d’Amelio, a teenage dancer who is the most followed user on TikTok with over 110 million followers. I can also name Bella Poarch, whose catchy lip-syncs have gained her 59 million followers. But on Facebook? No one really comes to mind. Perhaps because TikTok has a younger crowd, celebrity culture is stronger.

While you can never take Facebook out of the picture, another separate war is being waged between TikTok and Triller, a US-based video and music sharing app. There is a furious battle to poach influencers from one app to the other, and you can absolutely bet the PR machine goes into overdrive when they are successful. When Charli d’Amelio joined Triller last year, Triller’s PR team made a big deal out of it. When there were rumors of a potential banning of TikTok in the US, several big names made the move to Triller and encouraged their followers to do the same. Josh Richards was one of these influencers, though I notice he is back on TikTok making videos. Facebook would love to have a similar celebrity culture, but it needs to have a younger audience to create the environment for it.

One thing I will say is to never count out Facebook. Without a doubt it is working on nullifying the TikTok threat. You don’t get to beat Google+ and turn down billion dollar acquisition proposals from Microsoft and Yahoo without being persistent.

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Anna Alonso
Potential
March 19, 2021 7:00 pm

Although TikTok was the most used app in 2020, let’s not forget that Facebook wasn’t far behind. But this is still hugely worrying for Facebook. Within tech circles TikTok is described as the one app Facebook can’t beat. Mark Zuckerberg was eyeing up Muscial.ly as a possible acquisition but ByteDance swooped in with a princely sum of $800 million and TikTok is now a very real competitor to Facebook.

Facebook has survived a lot of threats. The #DeleteFacebook campaign barely made a dent after a massive privacy scandal with Cambridge Analytica, the British consulting firm that obtained data of millions of Facebook users without permission. Zuckerberg testified before Congress and left unscathed. It was hilarious watching tech illiterate senators question him about something they had no clue about. One senator didn’t even know how Facebook made money, to which Zuckerberg replied with a smirk, “we run ads”. Social networks such as Ello have pivoted from their original branding as Facebook competitors. Facebook has grown year after year and so has its stock price.

Now an app comes not out of Silicon Valley but out of China, and Facebook is scrambling to understand it. It will be an interesting battle as each tries to outdo the other. One thing TikTok has going for itself is that is caters to the Gen Z market. Facebook caters to a more grown up market, many of whom think that TikTok is for kids. As teenagers and early 20-somethings grow up, they might grow out of TikTok, but Facebook already has a userbase that has stayed with them for over a decade.

And lets not forget. TikTok is capturing more user time than Facebook, but not more than the Facebook Corporation that includes Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. In that sense Facebook still reigns supreme but I wouldn’t be surprised if TikTok has some plans up its sleeves – maybe a TikTok Messenger? Watch this space!

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Niharika Khatri
Influence
March 22, 2021 12:43 am

I don’t think there could be a better reflection of geopolitical circumstances than TikTok overtaking Facebook. The world is changing. In the 20th century we lived in a world of Western dominance. But now in the 21st century, Asia is rising rapidly. You simply cannot ignore that 60% of the global population lives in Asia, and that GDP in Asia is expected to be higher than the rest of the world combined (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/01/after-the-rise-of-the-west-and-asia-we-need-a-better-form-of-capitalism/). The World Economic Forum has auspiciously said that “the Asian century is about to begin.”

In Jeffrey Sach’s book, “The Ages of Globalization”, the Columbia University professor discusses in detail how the United States has responded to Asia’s growth with hostility and threats. And now for the first time a Chinese app is outperforming those conceived in Silicon Valley, US tech giants are responding with hostility.

Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, has called TikTok “fundamentally parasitic” (https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/26/reddit-ceo-tiktok-is-fundamentally-parasitic/). The US government was close to banning TikTok and WeChat last year. Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech at Georgetown University saying TikTok represented a risk to American values (https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-stoked-washingtons-fears-about-tiktok-11598223133). Quite ironic given the heat Facebook has been under in recent memory.

The narrative is clear. Asia is starting to rise and TikTok is just the first of many more businesses to come that will rattle the traditional dominant Western model we are accustomed to.

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Olinka Kares
Potential
March 18, 2021 11:34 am

I don’t know what it is about TikTok but it has a way of keeping you hooked. Honestly, 21.5 hours per month feels too low. Sometimes I open up the app, knowing full well that I should not be opening it πŸ˜‚ 40 minutes later I wonder where all the time went. For me, Facebook has limited purpose but a more practical purpose. I use it now and then to check my feed to see what friends are up to. Also Facebook is useful when I want to sign up to another app or website. Using Facebook login means I don’t have to remember a hundred passwords. But TikTok takes up more of my time even though I don’t have any real purpose to use it. I keep reminding myself I should delete it, but there it is on my phone ready to be opened πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

A few of my friends have said they downloaded TikTok to see what the hype was all about. Many of them have now deleted it, not because they found it boring, but because they were spending too much time on it. That’s a nice problem for TikTok to have and a worrying problem for Facebook. These same friends don’t really use Facebook these days other than for the same purposes I mentioned.

One thing I have noticed about myself is how automated my use of Facebook is. I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone. But very often I when I have a spare moment I open up my mobile browser and type facebook.com. Many times I’m not even thinking about it. It’s entirely automatic! And it happens a lot. Maybe this is auto-pilot behavior from using Facebook since 2009, but this shows that Facebook has some addictive element to it as well. When I do this, I scan my wall for about 10 seconds and then close my browser. Nothing achieved and barely any time spent. Later in the day I won’t be thinking about anything and automatically I’ll type in facebook.com in my browser again.