Despite ongoing challenges from rival platforms, along with regulatory concerns, and even restrictions in some regions, TikTok continues to go from strength to strength. And according to the latest data from App Annie, the app’s growth momentum won’t be slowing down any time soon.
As per App Annie’s 2022 Mobile Forecast report, TikTok is set to surpass 1.5 billion users in the next twelve months, as its cultural influence continues to spread around the world.
That would put it well ahead of Instagram, which remains on a billion actives, a number it first reported back in 2018 and hasn’t updated since. Which, in itself, is a little strange. Has Instagram’s growth simply stopped – and if so, what does that mean for the app’s broader popularity?
As App Annie notes (above), TikTok’s growth rate is unprecedented, with the app becoming a cultural force faster than any other platform in history. Some of that, of course, comes on the back of established trends – Facebook and Instagram had a harder time reaching their first billion users because they needed to establish new habitual behaviors, which TikTok has benefited from in its rise.
But even so, the app’s rapid ascension is significant – and this is without India, which, at one stage, was TikTok’s biggest user market, at 200 million monthly actives. It’s fairly safe to assume that had TikTok not been banned in India back in June 2020, that its Indian user base would now be closer to 500 million, which would mean that TikTok would already be at that 1.5 billion user market at this stage.
It’s amazing to consider how TikTok has been able to achieve such strong performance in an increasingly crowded social media market. Snapchat once appeared to be set for similar massive growth, till Instagram copied Stories and slowed it right down, which is the same playbook that Instagram’s parent company Meta has followed with TikTok, by adding Reels on both Facebook and Instagram in an effort to steal audience share back from a rising potential rival.
But even more than just that, YouTube has also added Shorts, Snapchat added Spotlight, and other apps have tested similar TikTok-like tools. And yet, even with all of these competing tools being pitted against it, TikTok has remained resilient.
Far from slowing it down, if anything, TikTok has only gained more audience as a result of these counter-growth efforts.
How has TikTok been able to keep winning, where others have wilted in the face of the established giants?
The key lies in its algorithm matching, which is still far better than any other platform at providing a never-ending stream of content that’s highly attuned to your specific interests.
As anyone who’s used TikTok a few times will know, the customized ‘For You’ feed of videos that you’ll likely be interested in is very addictive, and very good at quickly aligning with your personal interests.
The advantage that TikTok has over other platforms is its full-screen feed, which means that every action you take when each video is on screen is indicative of your response to that specific clip. Swipe past quickly and that video’s content is clearly not of interest, watch the whole thing through and that’s a strong signal, while tapping on any element also provides clear response data for its matching.
Instagram doesn’t have the same, as there are often several posts on screen, and while Reels can be more specifically attuned in this way, its algorithm is not as good as detecting your interests, with Reels often being overly sensitive to trending content, then showing you more of it without taking into account broader context.
TikTok’s system is far better at determining more intricate matches in response to your actions, which is why it’s so addictive to so many, and that’s helped it continue to add users, even as other apps have tried to replicate its key features.
Because, really, they can’t, or at least they haven’t been able to as yet. And while it seems like both Meta and YouTube should, at some stage, be able to figure it out, the fact that neither has made significant ground as yet may well point to TikTok simply having better capacity, and better audience understanding, than its rivals, which again points to ongoing success for the app, which is now arguably the cooler place to be for creators either way.
Monetization is the next step, and providing comparative capacity for top stars to make as much money on TikTok as they can in other apps. But that, too, is moving along, with the platform’s eCommerce and brand/creator partnership tools evolving quickly, facilitating more opportunities on this front.
If you haven’t considered TikTok as a potential platform for your marketing efforts, in 2022, it may be time to give it some more thought. Not all brands will thrive on TikTok, and it does require a more dedicated, organic-type approach, so you do need to know the platform-specific trends, or work with creators that are in-tune with such. But the opportunities, for the right brand, with the right approach, can be significant.
And they’re growing more every day, with its growth momentum building. At this rate, TikTok could well have over 2 billion active users by 2023, and even more cultural relevance around the world.
It may not be a platform that comes naturally for your promotions, and it may not be one that you yourself are interested in. But in 2022, it’s likely worth familiarizing yourself with the latest TikTok trends, and getting a better understanding of the app.
You can download App Annie’s full 2022 App Predictions report here.