With a global combined user base of almost 3.5 billion people, it’s hard to imagine a world without social media. Brands can reach a larger audience than ever before through an endless variety of platforms. It is a strong and growing channel in the digital marketing space. Although relatively mature players like Facebook and Instagram dominate the market and make it hard for new social media startups to gain traction, some of them have been able to gain impressive ground.
Short, in-the-moment videos have been making their way into social media. Snapchat (owned by Snap Inc.) started out as a platform to share exactly those types of posts. Instagram was quick to follow with its Instagram Stories, offering a wide variety of editing options including augmented reality filters. TikTok is the new kid on the blog and its growth can’t be ignored. But what’s what, and where to go as an online marketer?
Instagram’s continued growth
User base (Oct 2019): 1 billion
In 2019, Instagram’s user growth rate decreased from 10.1% in 2018 to 6.7%. This drop in growth is expected to continue even further in 2020 due to older age groups not tapping into the platform as quickly as predicted. While Instagram is still gaining growth through the 25-34 age group, they will surely endure increased competition from the rise of TikTok and Snapchat’s comeback. Despite this pressure on growth by competitors, it is not by any means affecting their advertising revenue. With the introduction of new advertising options, like the “Explore” tab and shoppable ads, and its 1 billion user base, Instagram continues to be appealing to a wide variety of online marketers. Therefore, the social app is expected to hit $13.86 billion in ad revenue, a jump of 46.6% in 2020, allowing them to maintain their position as one of the most widely used social platforms.
Don’t overlook Snapchat
User base (Oct 2019): 314 million
Whilst Snapchat launched the first “Stories” functionality, its growth has been affected by the popularity of Instagram and its integration of similar functionality. Holding ‘only’ 314 million active users, it could be easily assumed the main focus of digital advertising should be on Instagram and TikTok. In reality, Snap Inc. is making a comeback and its advertising platform Snap Ads holds massive potential for marketers. It boosted 50% ad revenue in Q3 in 2019, the first indication of marketers acting upon the changing time limits on Snap ads and the broader selection of advertising tools. Advertising at a low cost is another win. It’s currently a relatively inexpensive platform, so don’t overlook Snap and take advantage of this early stage of resurging.
TikTok, a rising star
User base (Oct 2019): 500 million
TikTok is extremely popular among children and teenagers, while most people in their thirties and up have rarely heard of it. Teenagers are quicker to adopt new platforms in favor of the platforms where their parents might follow them. TikTok allows users to create short videos accompanied by soundtracks. A simple concept, but wildly popular. Since the app was globally launched in 2017, the app showed rapid growth. In 2018, TikTok was already the fourth most-downloaded non-game app, behind WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Facebook. TikTok has already crossed 1.5 billion lifetime downloads. They’ve become a worthy opponent of all social media platforms, within only two years. Ensure to keep an eye on them and explore the opportunities for your brand to utilize this as a digital marketing channel. Your target audience might not be on it yet, but it could be just a matter of time.
Instagram vs Snap vs TikTok
Despite today’s mature social media space, it is rapidly moving. New social apps are jumping into the market and are trying to benefit from the popularity of social media. It’s more important than ever before for marketers to have an up-to-date social strategy. This, together with the right tools and skills within the team, allows you to make the most of social media.
When it comes to deciding where to spend your advertising budget, as always, it depends on your target audience and product. It’s important to understand who you’re selling to, and where those people are most perceptive of your message. Do your thorough research, or get experts to help you. After all, social media is an ever-changing landscape, so it’s important to stay on top of it.