TikTok has been the number one most downloaded app in Apple’s App Store for five consecutive quarters. After that, it’s YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. The short-form video sharing app has established itself as one of the biggest apps in the world, and what’s noteworthy is the apps that aren’t in the top 5: Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter…
Those top five apps share a common theme. They’re some of the most-used apps by Gen Z, and their presence shows just how much Gen Z is approaching their social media behaviors differently. They’re looking less to ’status update’ platforms like Facebook (only 9% of teens choose Facebook, down 4% since 2016) and embracing apps that exist on two polar extremes: connection and fame.
Apps for Connection
When you look at the apps that are gaining traction with teens, familiar names come up consistently. House Party, Bumble, Discord, GroupMe and Messenger make up some of the most-used apps for teens. These apps are all about interpersonal connection and maintaining close relationships. They’re places to hang out and chat with close friends.
Apps for Fame
On the opposite side of apps designed for connecting are apps for fame. That’s where TikTok shines. It’s where teens (and anyone) record and post 15-second videos, often accompanied by music. TikTok is all about performance, making it the ideal app for a generation that looks to YouTube for its stars over Hollywood.
TikTok is where artists can perform their music, and any teen who wants to be an influencer (and which one doesn’t?) can build an audience. TikTok ditches the baggage that comes from News Feed status updates and focuses on bite-size, fun content with user- and meme-sdriven challenges that allow users to easily generate content and generate positive social feedback. It makes content creation and viewership fun, and as a generation that’s seen the decaying affinity for apps like Facebook, it’s no surprise to observe that that’s the kind of thing this generation is looking for.
A Feed-Free Future?
This points to a couple social trends for marketers to pay attention to. The first is the specialization of platforms. Facebook has become an all-in-one, bloated behemoth, but Gen Z is putting the bundle aside in favor of apps that have a singular purpose such as broad fame or personal connection.
The second is the decline of the feed. Marketers have started to master reaching users in their feeds, but appetite for the feed for both users and platforms is declining. You see this in Facebook’s increasing emphasis on Stories and Watch, while users gravitate toward Stories and messaging. Now, is the time for marketers to play in those areas as well. Start learning and discovering what works before the feed becomes even less of an option.