Yesterday, the audio of an internal Facebook meeting held by Mark Zuckerberg was leaked. It’s long, but I’m going to focus on the relevant part that applies to the future of Instagram vs. TikTok. If you’re not familiar with it, TikTok (formerly Musically) is a top downloaded social media app where people create short lip-syncing videos. It has been uncovered previously through some reverse engineering that Instagram is working on bringing lip-syncing to Stories.
Q: Are we concerned about TikTok’s growing cultural clout among teens and Gen Z, and what is our plan of attack?
MZ: So yeah. TikTok is doing well. One of the things that’s especially notable about TikTok is, for a while, the internet landscape was a bunch of internet companies that were primarily American companies. And then there was this parallel universe of Chinese companies that pretty much only were offering their services in China. TikTok, which is built by this company Beijing ByteDance, is really the first consumer internet product built by one of the Chinese tech giants that is doing quite well around the world. It’s starting to do well in the US, especially with young folks. It’s growing really quickly in India. I think it’s past Instagram now in India in terms of scale. So yeah, it’s a very interesting phenomenon.
Next, Mark Zuckerberg explains their overall strategy of competing with Tik-Tok by using the Explore page, and Lasso, which is a (not very publicized) Facebook app that’s exactly like Tik-Tok.
MZ: And the way that we kind of think about it is married short-form, immersive video with browse. So it’s almost like the Explore Tab that we have on Instagram, which is today primarily about feed posts and highlighting different feed posts. I think about TikTok as if it were Explore for stories, and that were the whole app. There are creators who were specifically working on making that. So we have a number of approaches that we’re going to take towards this, and we have a product called Lasso that’s a standalone app that we’re working on, trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico, is I think one of the first initial ones. We’re trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big.
Then, he gets into the overall strategy of Instagram to directly compete with the attention that Tik-Tok gets by using Stories on the Explore page.
MZ: We’re taking a number of approaches with Instagram, including making it so that Explore is more focused on stories, which is increasingly becoming the primary way that people consume content on Instagram, as well as a couple of other things there. But it’s one of the more interesting new phenomena and products that are growing. But in terms of the geopolitical implications of what they’re doing, it is quite interesting. I think we have time to learn and understand and get ahead of the trend. It is growing, but they’re spending a huge amount of money promoting it. What we’ve found is that their retention is actually not that strong after they stop advertising. So the space is still fairly nascent, and there’s time for us to kind of figure out what we want to do here. But I think this is a real thing.
Here’s my recommendation – always have 2 platforms you’re focused on – one that’s mainstream and one that’s not. Then, apply the lessons you’ve learned from each platform to the other.
In this case, if you’re willing to put yourself out there on TikTok, really learn the platform, figure out how to consistently make videos that people really like, then THE DAY Instagram adds lip-syncing to Stories, drop everything else you’re doing and put all your effort into making those – you will absolutely crush it. Mark my words.
Are you on TikTok? Have you made any videos for it?
I know what you’re thinking – Daniel, why don’t you do this plan? The main reason is that I’m focused on Instagram and Alexa, and I don’t have the bandwidth to add a 3rd platform (yet).