|

TikTok is Launching an Instagram Clone

The short-form video app said it will soon launch “TikTok Notes,” a photo-and-text-based platform intended to mimic the appeal of Instagram.

Photo of TikTok logo
Photo by Jonathan Kemper via Unsplash

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

It’s very meta if you think about it. TikTok is taking a page out of Meta’s playbook by taking a page out of Meta’s playbook.

Amid the possible twilight of its US existence, the short-form video app said it will soon launch “TikTok Notes,” a photo-and-text-based platform intended to mimic the appeal of Instagram. The social media copycat trend continues.

Do it for the TikTok Notes

It’s a tech move right out of “Annie Get Your Gun.” Meta has spent the better part of four years relentlessly chasing TikTok’s popularity, launching short-form Instagram Reels and luring creators with all sorts of perks and promises. Earlier this month, Meta expanded the short-form vertical video player to Facebook and its other platforms.

Now, TikTok is playing an Uno Reverse card, developing “a new app for photo posts,” as first reported by TechCrunch and later confirmed by the company. Parent company ByteDance, meanwhile, may soon surpass Meta as the world’s largest social media company by sales; in March, sources told the Financial Times that the privately held company generated around $120 billion in revenue in 2023, up 40% from a year before, with US TikTok ad sales accounting for about $16 billion of that. Meta last year did $135 billion in global revenue.

Still, TikTok’s Notes unveiling comes as user growth is beginning to slow for the much-ballyhooed China-owned app, and audience eyeballs suddenly seem up for grabs:

  • According to SensorTower data reported by the FT, TikTok saw about 1.12 billion monthly active users (MAUs) in the last quarter of 2023, 12 million fewer than a year earlier, while Instagram’s MAUs rose by about 13 million to hit 1.47 billion. Overall, Instagram beat TikTok in total downloads last year, too, with new downloads increasing 20% to hit 768 million, while TikTok hit 733 million downloads, or a meager 4% growth rate.
  • On Monday, The Information reported that in Spain, France, and other markets where downloads have stagnated, TikTok will soon launch another new app — dubbed the Coin App internally, and TikTok Lite publicly — that offers users financial incentives such as gift cards and digital tips for viewing, sharing, and uploading content. A similar app already debuted in Japan and South Korea.

Search and Destroy: Meta isn’t the only platform getting its toes stepped on. TikTok has been incentivizing creators to make content that’s more easily searchable, as younger internet users continue to use the platform as a substitute for Google — a trend that’s apparently been worrying Google’s C-suite. Indeed, any looming TikTok ban will have plenty of winners and losers outside of a billion-plus desperately bored teenagers.