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Quantfury Daily Gazette

Facebook, TikTok, and Google face-off: battle of the ages

by
Jonty Bylos
Quantfury Business Analytics Team

Competition is fierce between the tech giants. This time, they’re competing for the young(ish) market’s attention spans. 

ByteDance’s TikTok has made a name for itself for capturing Generation Z, the Zoomer’s imagination, and dance moves. Facebook (FB: NASDAQ), with Instagram, came out with Reels – to keep up with the demand for quick bursts of video content – for its loyal user base consisting of many millennials asking why they should bother switching to anything else. Meanwhile, Google (GOOGL: NASDAQ) released YouTube Shorts in an attempt to not look like they’re stuck in the 2000s – with its long-time users now literally or ironically considered boomers (depending on your perspective, they could either be over 30 or from the 1930s). 

The prize of this showdown: being the platform on which almost everyone creates engaging, hyper-viral content. So far, TikTok seems to be climbing the exponential curve faster than its tech predecessors had in their generation. Recently, TikTok hit 1 billion monthly active users. But their competitive edge remains their domination of the fresh Zoomer market, as opposed to the Zoom (ZM: NASDAQ) market.

TikTok still needs an action plan to fully capitalize on its audience – since its ad revenue is still dwarfed by Facebook, Instagram and YouTube’s. It brings up another problem – what are young people even buying, besides new smartphones? Advertising seems so 2007, where today’s audiences are more interested in listening to their peers, including so-called “influencers”. In that regard, TikTok and YouTube have no problem serving a synergistic duel-function for would-be or wannabe influencers. 

Meanwhile, Facebook Pages cater to those who prefer a slower pace, like my parents or people who want to cut down their screen-time but still need something to scratch the social-media itch.

By the way, where is Twitter (TWTR: NYSE) in all of this? When it comes to viral video sharing, expect Twitter to be the platform of choice when you want to be outraged or create a similar sort of reaction with your content – regardless of age group.

In any case, with competition this stiff, expect casualties. Facebook’s Instagram has got some attention, for its internal research citing ​​that the platform has a negative impact on many of its teen users. But, isn’t this a common theme across social media? Maybe a single platform should not be the scapegoat. China thinks so, if you consider its recent ultimatum on online screen time for the youth, and the overall crackdown on tech – hence ByteDance reportedly sidelined its IPO plans. 

Lastly, YouTube Shorts suffers from a different sort of problem. My recent viral short-video suggestions seem wildly off compared to what is usually recommended to me, and I would bet I am not the only one. Perhaps the core YouTube platform and product isn’t designed to be a short-form viral video sharing app – although maybe my age is starting to show.

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