Social Platforms Are Emulating TikTok
May 12, 2021
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and in TikTok’s case, the admiration is rolling in from other social platforms. First launched in China in 2016, the TikTok app allows users to create 60-second video clips soundtracked by different soundbytes. On track to reach one billion monthly active users this year, TikTok is seeing other major social platforms copy certain functionalities in order to emulate the popular app.
Video assets in social media platforms certainly aren’t new, but a handful of unique, creative functionalities have made TikTok a global sensation and leader in social media creative. For example, the dubbing filter allows users to sync their mouths with something else, like another person or a pet. “Stitching” lets users cut and paste snippets from other users’ TikToks into their own, and “Duets” allow users to comment on another user’s TikTok by recording their own TikTok alongside the original as it plays.
Here’s how the competing social media giants are responding.
Instagram was one of the first to jump on the short video clip bandwagon, with its creation of Instagram Reels. Like TikToks, Reels are composed of 15- to 30-second video clips stitched together and set to music and original soundbytes, which can be shared to Instagram Stories, The Explore Feed, and the Reels tab on a user’s profile. At the end of March, Instagram officially launched the “Remix” option for Reels, enabling Reels creators to create their own Reel alongside an existing Reel. This functionality is almost exactly identical to TikTok’s “Duets” option, a popular part of the TikTok app that fuels trending content.
Snapchat is also working on a “Remix” option for snaps. Users can respond to others’ snaps by choosing side-by-side playback, top and bottom, and picture-in-picture mode among others.
YouTube is beta-testing “Shorts” in the US. Shorts contain a dedicated multi-segment camera within the YouTube app, giving users the ability to string together multiple video clips while adding music, controlling playback speed, and other tools. YouTube is hoping to have an advantage over TikTok in two ways: first through its connections to music resources, having a music library with millions of songs from over 250 labels and publishers, including Universal Music Group’s labels and publishing companies, Sony Music Entertainment and Publishing, and more. Second, YouTube is also touting its ability to compensate creators. Whereas TikTok is still developing its monetization and revenue share tools, YouTube has paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies over the last three years.
Facebook, of course, is looking to get in on the action as well, by launching an option in India that will enable Instagram Reels to be shared to the Facebook Newsfeed. Not only does this expand the reach of Reels, but it creates more incentive for creators to share their content on Instagram. After a TikTok ban in India, Reels has seen its biggest wins there. If the functionality is a success in India, Facebook will no doubt provide the option to other regions.
TikTok benefits from its popularity with Gen Z, as well as a smart UI and clever algorithms. However as social platforms continue to hop on the TikTok bandwagon, we’ll be keeping a close eye on how platforms adapt and evolve and how users respond and engage.