TikTok and Snapchat both attract young social media users in droves.
Naturally, you’d think that they are each other’s closest competition: But the story is not so simple.
“I love TikTok,” said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. “I’m a big fan.”
It turns out that the playing field between different social media giants is more complicated than straight up market share figures.
There is more to it, and when asked if Snapchat and TikTok are friends or foes, Spiegel responded with a resounding “friend.”
In fact, TikTok is more than a friend. It is Snapchat’s biggest advertiser.
In a time when TikTok is pouring money into advertising and is growing quickly, it begs the question: what is Snapchat and TikTok’s strategy here?
TikTok and Snapchat’s Partnership
TikTok and Snapchat both draw large crowds of active users.
TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, has about 700 million daily active users across all of its apps, while Snapchat has 218 million daily active users.
Spiegel says he considers TikTok a friend because they have developer and advertising partnerships. The two social platforms provide content that is different enough to distinguish the two as direct competitors.
“Time spent on mobile is growing. We’re both growing our businesses in a very rapidly growing industry overall,” explains Spiegel. “The value they provide to their community is very different than the value we provide to ours.”
TikTok provides more entertainment to users, via public, talent-based videos. Snapchat is designed for real-life friends to connect in a private manner.
The two share similar goals — getting young people on their phones more.
While Facebook views the smaller platforms as competitors and is willing to play hardball, Spiegel seems to be optimistic about the working relationship.
Is TikTok Really Snapchat’s Friend?
While they do serve different purposes, tech and consumer goods specialist Leo Sun suggests that Snapchat shouldn’t be too cozy with TikTok.
ByteDance has already poached over a dozen of Snap’s employees to work at TikTok, in addition to hiring former leaders at Facebook and Youtube.
Not to mention that many Snapchat users have complained that TikTok has flooded their app’s Discovery tab, presumably to steal away their attention from Snapchat.
“Those actions clearly indicate that ByteDance has much bigger ambitions than being Snap’s developer or advertising partner,” explains Sun. “Its endgame is the disruption of multiple tech giants with its ever-expanding family of apps, and its $78 billion valuation gives it plenty of financial firepower to reach that goal.”
While they do offer young people different experiences on their phones, at the end of the day, they are still competing for their screen time and advertising dollars.
For now though, TikTok is pouring money into its advertisements on Snapchat.
TikTok’s Advertising Strategy
TikTok has received public criticism for recent advertisements in which they used users without their consent.
While legal, it certainly is not best practice.
And what about those customer complaints about too many TikTok advertisements? We dug into the data to see what’s up.
MediaRadar research found that:
- In 2019, roughly 80% of TikTok’s ad spend in the US was dedicated to Snapchat
- The company spent 4x more on US advertising in 2019 than in 2018.
- Outside of Snapchat, the brand advertised with other mobile formats in 2019. This includes display, video, and native. It targeted Gen-Z-friendly sites like Tastemade, Buzzfeed, and The Dodo.
- TikTok bought exhibition space at CES.
- In 2019, TikTok was the top advertiser on Snapchat. They spent more than other top brands like Coca-Cola, Comcast, Disney, & AT&T.
While Snap and TikTok’s friendship remains to be seen, it is clear that TikTok has ramped up its advertising in the US.
It is still questionable whether this strategy will benefit Snap in the long run, but TikTok and Snap seem to both be benefiting from the relationship in the meantime.