Is Instagram losing steam to TikTok?


At the end of last year, famed entrepreneur and social media guru Gary Veynerchuk (a.k.a. Gary Vee) put out a video to his 2.5 million Youtube subscribers entitled ‘Why Instagram is losing steam to Tik Tok’. This perked our ears here at The Modern Influencer and so we decided to look into this bold claim and figure out what it might mean for Influencing in 2020 and beyond.

When looking at the number of downloads from 2019 it is not surprising that Gary Vee is so impressed with TikTok’s rise. In November 2019, Sensor Tower reported that TikTok had reached an astounding 1.5 billion downloads, 6% more than at the same point in 2018. It also outstripped Instagram by 238 million downloads according to the analytics site.

So TikTok has won the user battle, it’s over right? Well not quite.

Business Insider notes that “Instagram had one billion monthly active users in 2018, suggesting the number is now higher. TikTok hit the same milestone in June 2019. So Instagram is probably ahead by a narrow margin.”

Also, it’s important to look at the reasons behind the numbers. Much of TikTok’s growth has been driven by an explosion of users in India, who accounted for 31% of the app’s downloads. Its second-biggest market was China which made up 11.5% of downloads, then the US with 8.2%. This means that if you’re not an influencer who is based, or whose audience is based, primarily in India or China, then you can take these statistics with a pinch of salt. If you are, then it is vital you get on this trend to avoid your fellow influencers getting a massive advantage over you on the TikTok platform before you’ve even created your account.

Whilst numbers are important however, they are not the only thing that counts when it comes to influencing.

One massive advantage Instagram has over TikTok is reputation.

Instagram is highly regarded as the number one platform for influencer marketing amongst the majority of brands and businesses. Instagram is also much better catered towards influencers, even more so with the recent unveiling of the Brand Collabs Manager tool (for more info check out reason number 4 on our ‘10 reasons why 2020 will be the Year of the Influencer’).

So what does this all mean for influencers?

Whilst there’s not doubt that TikTok had a very good year in 2019 and may well take over Instagram in number of users in 2020, it’s not time for instagram influencers to panic.

Instagram is not going anywhere and is still being downloaded at a substantial rate. Importantly, it is still much more favoured by brands (and consumers) compared to TikTok. The vast majority of brands will still be looking to Instagram for the majority of their work with influencers.

What it does mean, however, is that TikTok has a lot of potential. There’s no doubt that, with the massive numbers it now boasts, brands are going to start looking to prominent TikTokers as potential marketers for their products and campaigns. If you can jump on this hype and build up a name for yourself on TikTok in 2020 you could potentially earn big rewards over the next few years. As Gary points out in his video, TikTok’s algorithm is very strong at the moment, meaning that even if you haven’t got that many followers the algorithm is very generous and will promote appealing videos to users regardless.

So if you’re an influencer who hasn’t already got a TikTok account, we recommend you go and set one up right now. Before you miss the boat. And by boat, we mean a yacht with shed loads of cash in potential brand deals in 2020 and beyond.

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