Media platforms

What to know about the convergence of social media platforms

Last week, Twitter finally announced a “share” button for its android application. The feature is already standard in iOS, making Twitter way, way behind in its own game. It’s just the latest example of a social media platform chasing revenue from competitors.

Instagram’s TikTokification: It’s been two years since Instagram decided to get Reels. (Not Be realwhich is quite another thing that Instagram also imitates.)

Instagram’s Reels feature is eerily similar to TikTok. The Retail Marketing Manager for Instagram Shopping told us in June the platform was “really focused on Reels, commerce and creators”.

But Instagram is now ending its Shopping page and Shop tab as it refocuses its business efforts on integrating shopping into its core experience, rather than a dedicated shopping destination. Shopping is a major driver of engagement, which Instagram needs to grow its Reels business. Because even though Instagram will generate about $30 billion in ad revenue this year, compared to nearly $6 billion for TikTok, the Meta-owned app will only see 16.3% growth from 184.4 % narcotics of its ByteDance-owned rival.

Reels was touted as a defensive play for TikTok success and to fend off a rising star.

The YouTubeification of TikTok: What TikTok does works. This year, time spent with TikTok will exceed that of YouTube by a small margin. But that margin (it’s about 12 seconds) is key. YouTube still has more than twice as many users as TikTok and $2 billion in additional ad revenue.

TikTok announced in February that it would introduce 10-minute videos, similar to what you might watch on YouTube. And while the app won’t see user numbers close to YouTube’s, our predictions are that TikTok will overtake YouTube in US ad revenue in 2024.

YouTube’s TikTokification: The growth in time spent on TikTok means endless scrolling on the app isn’t just a result of being stuck indoors during the pandemic. The past time continues to grow, even as people venture back into the public.

In a bid to compete with TikTok, YouTube launched its own endless scrolling space for short videos, Shorts, in the US in early 2021.

Did Shorts succeed? Supposedly, yes. It has spread all over the world and according to YouTube has over 1.5 billion monthly connected users worldwide. But YouTube missed revenue expectations in both Q1 and Q2. It’s not the end of the world by 2022 standards, but it does mean that creating a TikTok competitor isn’t enough for a pink prospect.

And then there’s Twitter: The app is losing US users and has already been eclipsed by TikTok in ad revenue.

Twitter has tried to adopt Instagram, Snapchat and now TikTok-like functionality in the form of Fleets in 2020, who passed away a year later. Beyond that, Twitter isn’t really mimicking any other platform except catching up in the commerce space. But it’s also not as direct a competition as Instagram and Snapchat.

Why we care: Social media platforms converge, then diverge a bit, then converge again. The question is whether Meta and Alphabet can stay on top or if TikTok will change everything. It has already changed the industry.

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