because now TikTok scares Zuckerberg – Mark Zuckerberg has never made humility his main characteristic. This time, however, reveals an unprecedented concern about a competitor. Its name is TikTok: in the conferences following the release of the quarterly data at the beginning of February, the ceo and the CFO David Wehner nominated the app nine times. Quotes from other applications: one for Twitter and one for Pinterest. It is not just a question of words but also of numbers. Here they are.

TikTok against Facebook

Sensemakers-Comscore data certify an opposite trend. TikTok today manages to reach 70% of users between 18 and 24 years old. Two years ago it was 43%. Over the same period, Facebook went from 92% to 71%. Basically, the apps are in balance but the trend is clear: TikTok is about to overtake. Meta consoles himself with the solidity of Instagram (stable at 85%).

For Zuckerberg it is even worse if you look at the time spent every day on the application, an index of engagement much appreciated by advertisers: in the space of two years, TikTok has quadrupled it (from 10 to 38.2 minutes), surpassing both Instagram (however increased from 16.5 to 28.1 minutes) than Facebook (from 11.5 to 6.3 minutes). Also in this case, to alarm the most populous social platform in the world is not (only) the difference but the trend. Facebook loses minutes while the competitor makes money.

And it is not just a figure limited to the youngest. TikTok reaches 30% of the adult population (it was 18% two years ago). Facebook, with a penetration of 85%, is still far away, but, even here, it is decreasing (it was at 93% in 2019). A teen-only getaway wouldn’t be a big deal. But these data undermine one of Meta’s objectives, reaffirmed by the CEO at the beginning of February: “Our job is to make sure that our apps offer the best services for young adults”.

Two reasons, one competitor

In 2020, ByteDance (TikTok’s parent house) doubled its turnover, bringing it to 34.2 billion dollars. According to the data submitted to the British Business Register, TikTok’s turnover in Europe was 170.8 million, up 545% in one year. According to Reuters, in 2021 ByteDance (not listed and therefore with fewer transparency obligations) continued its growth, with a turnover of 58 billion (+ 70%).

The spending on apps by TikTok users – reports an analysis by SensorTower – reached 2.3 billion dollars in 2021, 77% more than in 2020. It is heading towards 3 billion downloads. It would be the first non-Meta-owned app to reach this milestone. China remains the main market, but its share has shrunk, going from 85% to 57% in just one year. TikTok is therefore becoming truly global, including from a financial point of view.

Facebook still has a different scale (it closed 2021 with a turnover of nearly 118 billion), but it has grown at a halved pace (+ 37%). It is physiological that a solid company grows slower than one that – in fact – is still a startup. But commenting on the data of the last quarter, the one that triggered the stock market crash of 25%,

Zuckerberg explained that the expected slowdown in early 2022 has two reasons. Both are related to TikTok. “The first is competition. People have a lot of options on how to spend their time and apps like TikTok are growing very fast. ” To react, Facebook reiterated that it wants to focus on Reels, that is, on the short videos inspired by TikTok.

And here’s the second reason: “We are in the midst of a transition to short videos,” which are replacing “higher-paying” formats. In other words: to attract users, Zuckerberg is focusing on a novelty that has great capacity for involvement but (at the moment) less space for advertising. I sacrifice collections today to multiply them in the future. And it is here, for the first time, that the preoccupation with numbers and words is mixed.

If Zuckerberg becomes a follower

In the past, Facebook has imported formats that were invented elsewhere. The disappearing posts, for example, are children of Snapchat, sunk after the arrival of the Stories on Instagram and Facebook. Snapchat, which Zuckerberg had tried to acquire a few years earlier, had a winning idea but not the critical mass to impose it.

Facebook copied but not chased. This time, the CEO admitted, it’s different: “The dynamics are a bit different with the Reels. The product is growing very, very fast. But the new thing is that TikTok is already a great competitor and continues to grow at a rather rapid pace ”. Even clearer was Meta’s CFO, Wehner: “TikTok is clearly ahead of us” in the ability to manage and enhance short videos. That is, it is clearly ahead in the format that Facebook is focusing on the most. Zuckerberg, for the first time, chases. Or, to put it in social jargon, he has become a follower.


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