TikTok just passed a considerable milestone: unseating the mighty Instagram. Qualifying that statement, it has pulled ahead in a specific usage segment, but an important one. eMarketer reports that it has passed Instagram in Gen-Z users in the U.S. It’s also on pace to catch up to Snapchat on the same measure by 2025.
Though this data point only looks at a specific age segment and geographic segment, it’s telling of TikTok’s ongoing ascent as a social-sharing channel. In fact, the U.S. has trailed other regions in TikTok adoption (partly due to a period of geopolitical impact). So this user-base milestone is especially notable in that light.
Breaking down these figures a bit further, eMarketer projects TikTok to have 37.3 million Gen-Z users in the U.S. by the end of this year. That compares to Instagram’s 33.3 million users within the same demographic and timeframe. The growth trend that indicates TikTok has already pulled ahead at this earlier stage of the year.
Perhaps more notable is TikTok’s pace in catching up to Snapchat in Gen-Z users by 2025. Snapchat has erstwhile been the undisputed champion of Gen-Z, on pace to reach 42 million in the U.S. this year. It will still rule the generation throughout eMarketer’s forecast period, but TikTok looms in its rear-view mirror.
On that note, these figures say a great deal about the lifecycle of social apps. They’re often strongest within the generation they grew up with. Then over time, generations habitually stick to their signature platform, which is good and bad. It shows ongoing loyalty but also the graying of a user base. Just ask Facebook.
In terms of definitions, eMarketer identifies Gen-Z users as those born between 1997 and 2012 (ages 9 to 24). As a side note, it’s not often recognized that the Gen-Z eldest have already graduated from college. eMarketer counts users as those who engage at least once per month, also known as monthly active users (MAUs).
One question raised from the above is what it means for social media strategies among SMBs. As we’ve examined, Instagram Stories have untapped potential for SMB marketing. It can bring out the vanity-based factors that have traditionally driven SMB ad mediums (think: local TV spots), but with less cost and friction.
As TikTok emerges in the U.S. and consumers start to understand it better — the same learning curve that Twitter and Instagram experienced — it could likewise be applied more effectively as a marketing channel. As always, that learning curve will start with brand advertisers before moving down-market to SMBs en masse.
Meanwhile, TikTok is on a collision course with local advertising. The specific formats and winning formulas for TikTok-based media creation will be discovered in time by creative businesses. Again, that’s the same learning curve we saw with other now-prevalent social apps. We’ll be watching intently as it takes shape.
Related: Check out the Localogy Place virtual event next week, when we’ll be interviewing TikTok’s Head of SMB and Operations, Rebecca Sawyer.