[SMK] Social Media Knowledge


TikTok Tops 690m Monthly Users Globally

TikTok Is Now Third Biggest Western Social Platform

With its U.S. operations up in the air and predatory glances from Microsoft and Oracle, TikTok has recently come out swinging as it sues the U.S. government over its impending ban.

In its lawsuit challenging the U.S. government over an effective ban that is set to take place in September, TikTok has finally broken out its western user base stats.

TikTok's actual size has been somewhat of a mystery, despite its seemingly meteoritic rise. With TikTok numbers often conflated with its Chinese parent app Douyin, which is HUGE.

In the filing, TikTok revealed its monthly active users (MAUs) globally to be 689,174,209 as of July 2020, with 100 million MAUs in the U.S. and 50 million daily active users (DAUs).

Based upon TikTok's filling data that would put the short-form video sensation, around the same level as both Snapchat and Pinterest in the States.

A direct comparison is slightly tricky since TikTok's data is self-reported.

Industry analysts often take self-reported stats with a pinch of salt, since platforms have a habit of overinflating numbers by including duplicate accounts and bots.

According to eMarketer, Pinterest surpassed Snapchat as the third-biggest social media platform in the U.S. in 2019, with eMarketer estimating its MAUs at 82.4 million to Snapchat's 80.3 million in 2019.

Therefore, in the U.S. TikTok would be there or thereabouts, but still trailing Instagram and industry-leader Facebook.

A TikTok-tastic Growth Story       

Globally, TikTok tops both Snapchat and Pinterest comfortably, due to its vast userbase in India. Also, under threat, due to geopolitics.

TikTok's 690m global MAUs sees it top both Pinterest (400m+) and Snapchat (293m+).

The most impressive aspect of TikTok's stats, however, is its very steep growth trajectory, rather than its absolute numbers.

According to TikTok, in January 2018, it had circa 55 million global users, before growing five-fold to more than 271 million by December 2018.

A year later, it had pretty much doubled again to 507 million by Christmas 2019.

As of this month, TikTok has now surpassed 2 billion global downloads and reported basically 700 million monthly active users in July.

TikTok's U.S. growth trajectory is no less impressive:

  • January 2018: 11,262,970 U.S. monthly active users (MAUs)
  • February 2019: 26,739,143
  • October 2019: 39,897,768
  • June 2020: 91,937,040
  • August 2020: More than 100 million based on quarterly usage

Therefore, for the incumbent western social media platforms, it was likely only a matter of time before TikTok left them spluttering in the dust if its burgeoning, body-popping user base.

Perhaps this is what might have prompted Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to bring the topic up with U.S. President, Donald Trump, over a bowl of nachos last year*, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"In a private dinner at the White House in late October, Mr. Zuckerberg made the case to President Trump that the rise of Chinese internet companies threatens American business, and should be a bigger concern than reining in Facebook, some of the people said."

One can almost imagine Zuck sparking up a cigar now, and doing his best A-Team impression, "I love it when a plan comes together".

TikTok's Local Picture

The data above is far from comprehensive and does not break out TikTok's stats across other regions in granular detail.

Therefore, getting a local flavour for AU/NZ and wider APAC is hard.

Likewise, the TikTok Ad Planner within TikTok Ads is unhelpful, not providing a precise breakdown on local markets.

The 1.6 million TikTok user base which is often bandied around for Australia is likely to be quite heavily understated. While there are no such estimates SMK could find for N.Z.

For the Australian market, anyway, local usage for most social platforms tends to be around 0.25% to 1.5% ish of the global userbase.

A more reasonable estimate for TikTok would be, as it is in the U.S., around the Pinterest/Snapchat mark. Which would be around 4.5m – 8m across both Australia and New Zealand combined.

But growing rapidly.

TikTok has dominated app download charts all year, being an ever-present within the top three most downloaded free apps, according to App Annie's data for Australia.

  • January = 2nd most downloaded Across iOS and Android
  • February = 2nd most downloaded Across iOS and Android
  • March = 1st most downloaded Across iOS and Android
  • April = 3rd most downloaded Across iOS and Android
  • May = 3rd most downloaded Across iOS and Android
  • June = 2nd most downloaded Across iOS and Android
  • July = 3rd most downloaded Across iOS and Android

App Annie does not break out data for the N.Z. market, but we would expect to see similar download behaviour since this has been the case in most western markets this year. For example, Singapore data also mimics Australia's in App Annie.

Where TikTok goes from here is anyone's guess. Noises out of China now indicate a veto on any such sale of its western operations.

Once the dust settles in the coming months, expect hesitant marketers to begin more serious moves on this vast untapped userbase.

*Note: SMK has no actual knowledge about the menu of said meeting. But, seriously, who doesn't like nachos. And they're perfect for sharing.

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