TikTok: The New Instagram?
By Victoria Walton, Account Executive
Although TikTok was created just four years ago, recent spikes in usage of the platform have led to 80 million monthly active users in the United States alone. Many companies have joined the bandwagon, creating TikTok accounts to advertise and sell their products to a young audience with a 15-second attention span. The popularity of the creative video-sharing app has surprised the tech industry and has threatened the popularity of old favorites.
As a 20-year-old, I feel as though I ought to be too old for TikTok since it is seen as an app created for preteens and teenagers. And yet, I sometimes lose myself for hours, scrolling through the app’s endless stream of videos. There is little rhyme or reason to the clips selected for my feed. In ten minutes, I might watch several 30-second cooking demonstrations, epic fails (usually people falling), parody songs, funny skits, angry rants, Karen-shaming, movie recommendations, relationship woes, and science explainers. After sending my 24-year-old sister countless TikTok clips, she caved and downloaded the app. Her “For You” page is filled with recipes and workout videos. She’s addicted now too, just like me. I tried to refrain from the urges of TikTok by not downloading it, but that only lasted about three months, and now look at where I am.
But the real question that everyone is thinking: Is Tik Tok the new Instagram? Instagram has a billion worldwide users. As of 2020, TikTok is close behind with 800 million active users and in 9th place among social media network sites. It was the most downloaded app in the Apple Store in 2019 and 2020 bringing it ahead of commonly used sites such as Snapchat and Twitter., according to Mansoor Iqbal in Business of Apps.
Instagram used to be my go-to social media app. I would scroll for hours looking at friends and influencer’s posts. Today, however, I check Instagram about twice a day, for a few minutes at a time. I open TikTok about 5 times a day and scroll on it for about an hour or longer. Sometimes it keeps me in bed all morning.
Worried about defection to TikTok, Instagram has created a lookalike feature called Reels in hopes of retaining its users. So far, it is not working. Creators are still receiving more views of their videos on TikTok than on Instagram. Today, views and users have increased dramatically to the point where most videos on users' “For You” page are likely to have a million plus views.
TikTok has become ubiquitous. When I stand in line at Starbucks, there are always girls behind me talking about certain TikTokers, asking each other if they’d seen their new video or questioning the new drama that had surfaced with them and their new girlfriend/boyfriend. No one is talking about influencer’s posts on Instagram anymore. Instagram now makes it nearly impossible to find posts from your friends and family—the primary aim of the app—driving people toward influencers and meme accounts instead.
Will Instagram go the way of MySpace by losing millions of users to its competitor? It depends. If Instagram focuses on enhancing its original user experience, it has a better chance of surviving. If the app decides to copy TikTok, then users will continue migrating. Instagram has a better chance at surviving by enhancing its original product.
So, is TikTok the new Instagram? Pay close attention to how many times you use both apps and you’ll see that Instagram is moving into the slow lane. Instagram is taking their competitors' features while TikTok is the new and improved version of Vine the world has been waiting for.