Leaked audio from an internal Facebook meeting where CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered questions from staff has been making headlines – mainly around his promise of a “fight” if politicians try to break his company up. But for Music Ally’s purposes, Zuckerberg’s comments on TikTok are also interesting. “TikTok… is really the first consumer internet product built by one of the Chinese tech giants that is doing quite well around the world. It’s starting to do well in the US, especially with young folks. It’s growing really quickly in India. I think it’s past Instagram now in India in terms of scale. So yeah, it’s a very interesting phenomenon,” he said.
Zuckerberg went on to compare TikTok to Instagram’s ‘Explore’ tab, except more focused on shorter ‘stories’. That’s the key to how Facebook plans to fight back against TikTok’s popularity by tweaking Instagram: “Making it so that Explore is more focused on stories, which is increasingly becoming the primary way that people consume content on Instagram,” as he put it.
Zuckerberg also offered a caveat to expectations that TikTok’s further growth is inevitable. “It is growing, but they’re spending a huge amount of money promoting it. What we’ve found is that their retention is actually not that strong after they stop advertising. So the space is still fairly nascent, and there’s time for us to kind of figure out what we want to do here. But I think this is a real thing.”
For some more analysis, check this TechCrunch article, which argues that Zuckerberg’s analysis of TikTok as ‘Explore with stories’ is a big misunderstanding of how it works and why people like it.