Thursday, September 28, 2023

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The rise of TikTok in six charts

Will TikTok be banned in the US, and if so, why?

Politicians in the US have voiced concerns in recent months that the Chinese-owned app is a national security threat, potentially providing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with masses of data on millions of Americans, including their location, and making them vulnerable to political disinformation.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is testing before Congress on Thursday to outline security measures that could protect US data from foreign adversaries.

Matthew Pottinger, the former deputy national security adviser to President Donald Trump from 2019 to 2021, said in February to the new House Select Committee on US-China competition that TikTok “gives the Chinese Communist Party the ability to manipulate our social discourse, the news , to censor and suppress, or to amplify what tens of millions of Americans see and read, and experience and hear, through their social-media app”.

However, TikTok is also a huge success story, and one that threatens American social media incumbents. Newsweek has broken down the numbers to show how and why TikTok is a commercial threat.

TikTok’s ascent has taken it past Twitter and Snapchat into the top five of social networks in the US, and it is the only non-US company in the list. According to the latest Statista Global Consumer Survey of March 2023, it is now used by 41 percent of social media users. Facebook is still out in front of 78 percent.

TikTok isn’t going to overtake the number of US users that Facebook has any time soon —the chart below shows that.

But TikTok is way ahead of all other social media platforms when it comes to time. According to brand consultancy Measure Protocol, it racks up nearly 10 hours a week of social media users, double that of next-placed YouTube (4.9 hours) and Facebook (3.7 hours).

American kids spend more time on TikTok than any other platform—an average of 113 minutes per day. Snapchat is second on 90. Facebook is just 18 minutes.

TikTok’s audience is profitable for companies: according to the Statista Survey, among all social media users, 20 percent agree with the statement “I have bought products because celebrities or influencers advertised them”. For TikTok users, that rises to 28 percent.

It’s a similar pattern with liking company posts, or following companies. The proportion of social media users in general who like company posts is 30 percent; for TikTok users, it’s 38 percent. Similarly, of those following companies on a social platform, among general users the figure is 24 percent; for TikTok, it’s 32 percent.

TikTok’s digital ad revenue in the US is growing, but it’s still a small proportion of the total.

It is forecast to hit $11 billion in 2024, according to eMarketer, with around 3.5 percent of digital ad spending. Note, this is just for the US—worldwide, TikTok revenues are already over $11 billion.

Will TikTok be banned in the US, and if so, why?

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