TikTok’s popularity completely changed social media. The platform achieved massive success within a very short period, becoming the fastest ever new social media platform to reach a billion monthly active users. It is a genuine global sensation used on every continent, and there is still room for it to keep going. Many marketers and social media experts see it as the platform of the future. Naturally, this has inspired other social media companies to try and carve out their share of the market.
TikTok is a mobile-centric short-form video content platform with an algorithm that keeps a constant stream of new videos coming. To combat this, social media giants Meta and YouTube have created their own versions of TikTok with short-form video platforms that are intended to be viewed on the phone. These platforms are Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. Both have found significant audiences, although they don’t quite rival TikTok for cultural relevance and trendiness yet.
However, these platforms are still important components of the modern social media landscape. Let’s look at what they are, how they’re performing, and whether they can rival TikTok long-term.
YouTube Shorts launched in the United States in March 2021. By this point, TikTok was already a global platform that had carved out a short-form video niche, and YouTube was keen to rival them. YouTube remains the biggest online video platform, with over 2.1 billion monthly active users. But letting their user base go to TikTok for all of their short-form video content needs wasn’t an option. That is why their YouTube Shorts platform is, for all intents and purposes, a YouTube TikTok.
YouTube Shorts are vertical videos, meaning they need to be watched on a smartphone. They are limited to 60 seconds with a minimum run time of 15 seconds, meaning these videos are short and sweet. Like TikTok, much of the content revolves around music, dancing, and quick humorous videos. One thing to note is that YouTube categorizes all videos that are less than sixty seconds as Shorts, but the algorithm filters videos based on preferences.
YouTube claims that its Shorts platform has received over 1.5 billion monthly active users per month. This is significant, although they already have brand recognition and a huge pre-launch user base. It does show that this platform may be a big player in the future.
Meta is the most powerful social media company on the planet, owning Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. While Facebook has become the platform for older audiences, more of a hub for commerce than a trendy social platform, Instagram remains en vogue, with a young and diverse user base. It was naturally a smart place for Meta to launch their own short-form video platform. Instagram Reels is an incredibly similar experience to TikTok, with a nearly matching interface and an algorithm that filters through short videos.
Instagram Reels have a maximum length of 90 seconds, making them slightly longer than YouTube Shorts, although TikTok has a longer maximum length. Reels has found tremendous success around the world. In fact, in India, Reels is actually the preferred platform to TikTok and contributed to a surge in Instagram’s popularity in the Indian market.
Reels is a major feature on the Instagram platform. It is their fastest-growing feature worldwide, growing more quickly than Stories or Shop. 50% of Instagram’s users use the Reels explore page every month. It is a worthy competitor to TikTok, albeit a remarkably similar platform. With a trendy brand behind it in Instagram, a huge base of users, and global popularity, Reels is likely to sustain its rapid growth.
Social media is a copycat game. When Snapchat broke through with an innovative disappearing story feature, it wasn’t long until stories were everywhere. When there is a great idea, other companies are going to find a way to integrate that idea into their own platform. It is only natural. TikTok is the major new social platform with a great concept and a young user base. It has become exceedingly popular with marketers, with TikTok influencer marketing becoming a rising medium. Naturally, other platforms want what they have.
YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels are social channels with only mild differences from TikTok. They are created by the two biggest social media brands to stem the growth of the up-and-coming TikTok. The chances of these apps eating into TikTok’s growth aren’t particularly likely. But they are on their own great platforms and valuable tools for social media marketers.
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