Is TikTok Feeling the Heat from Snap, Instagram?

TikTok, for all of the controversy over its security, is an engagement machine. And its success has launched a growing list of competitors.

My Localogy colleague, Mike Boland put TikTok’s scale into tangible terms in a late January post. “App analytics platform App Annie reports that average time spent per-user per-month on TikTok is up 325 percent. Perhaps more notable than the raw figure is the fact that TikTok now exceeds Facebook on this measure.”

Further, we reported that the app should reach 1.2 billion monthly active users by the end of 2021. Still, TikTok’s principal U.S. competitors are not taking the app’s ascendance lying down.

TikTok Pulls Ahead of Facebook in Time Spent

Snap’s Spotlight Tops 100M Monthly Users

Snap has responded to the surging popularity of short videos with its Spotlight product. And Snap seems to be better at this than Instagram. The company announced on its recent Q4 earnings call that Spotlight had 100 million monthly users in January 2021. That’s a pretty incredible achievement for a product launched in November 2020. Though it still pales in comparison to TikTok, which has that many monthly users in the U.S. alone.

In January, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri acknowledged the haters and admitted that he wasn’t yet happy with the progress of Reels, his company’s answer to TikTok. Reels has come under fire for being little more than a TikTok knockoff.

Speaking on the Verge’s Decoder podcast, Mosseri said the following. “I’m not yet happy with it. We’re growing both in terms of how much people are sharing and how much people are consuming, but we have a long way to go. And we have to be honest that TikTok is ahead.”

Insta’s Passive-Aggressive Algorithm

And this week, we read that that Instagram is taking (desperate?) measures to discourage users from re-posting TikTok content on Reels. According to multiple news reports, including this one on c/net, Instagram’s algorithm is making “recycled” content from other apps “less discoverable” on its platform. This seems like a passive-aggressive way to acknowledge that TikTok is far ahead as a preferred platform for creators. For now, at least.

So while TikTok’s success has generated a response from its rivals, the short video pioneer doesn’t seem in any immediate danger from competitors. Snap seems to be the only one in any position to take a byte out of TikTok’s dominant position.

What Makes TikTok Go Tick, Tock?

On the regulatory front, the new Biden Administration seems less interested in curtailing TikTok than the previous administration. And it no longer appears that TikTok has to find a friendly set of buyers in order to continue operating in the United States. According to multiple news reports, the planned acquisition of TikTok’s U.S. operation is on indefinite hold.

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