Instagram Reels Vs. TikTok Vs. YouTube Shorts Vs. Snapchat Spotlight: How Social Video Apps Stack Up

The popularity of user-generated, short-form video is increasing with many factors working in its favor. The limited video format highlights a person's creativity as they showcase educational, informative or entertaining content while using filters, editing tools and incorporating sound and music. The end result can often go viral.

Marketers are using the power of the format to target diverse, engaged and specifically younger audiences.

When TikTok, the short-video app of China's ByteDance, became a hit it was logical that companies, even politicians, began to notice. Former U.S. President Donald Trump's call to ban the app in the U.S., primarily due to his animosity toward China, opened the floodgates of people joining TikTok.

High-profile social media platforms such as Meta Platforms Inc. FB, Alphabet Inc.'s GOOG GOOGL YouTube and Snap Inc.'sSNAP Snapchat have now ventured into short videos.

Related Link: Facebook Vs. Snapchat Vs. Pinterest Vs. TikTok: How Engagement Is Trending Into 2022

Instagram Reels: Meta Platform's Instagram launched Reels in August 2020 and it has since gone on to become one of its most popular features. It currently allows users to record 15-second, 30-second and 60-second videos, while a 90-second option is also under consideration.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the fourth-quarter earnings call that Reels is now the company's fastest-growing content format by far and the biggest contributor to engagement growth on Instagram.

There is mix shift in content consumption from Instagram's Stories/Feed to Reels, Credit Suisse analyst Stephen Ju said following Meta's quarterly results.

Meta did note the monetization with Reels is slow, as there are relatively few ads on it.

TikTok: TikTok is clearly the leader in the space. Its U.S. daily active users rose 13% year-over-year to about 48 million in 2021, Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak said in a recent note, citing Sensor Tower.

The average time spent per user increased 10% year-over-year to 87 minutes per day, which is the highest among the social media group. U.S. ad revenue per hour was 6 cents in 2021, indicating there is scope for improvement.

TikTok's worldwide MAU stood at 1 billion as of September 2021, according to Statista. In comparison, Facebook's app had 2.91 billion MAUs as of Dec. 31, 2021.

YouTube Shorts: Alphabet launched YouTube Shorts first in India in the fall of 2020, a prudent move as TikTok was yanked out of the country along with a slew of Chinese apps. It was launched in other countries in phases.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said on the earnings call that YouTube Shorts continues to drive significant engagement, with 5 trillion all-time views and more than 15 billion views each day, globally.

Related Link: Meta Platforms (Facebook) Q4 Earnings Takeaways: Big EPS Miss, Revenue Beat, New Ticker

Snapchat Spotlight: Snap launched Spotlight in November 2020 and this feature is meant to give its users a centralized location for accessing a continuous feed of user-generated content.

"Spotlight, our newest platform, surfaces the most entertaining snaps from our community. And we've been overwhelmed by the positive response from viewers and increasingly, creators," the company said on its latest earnings call.

Snap's overall daily active users were 319 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, up 20% year-over-year.

Snapchat's competitive factors are increasing, particularly from TikTok, Wedbush analyst Ygal Arounian said in a note ahead of the company's quarterly results. TikTok and Snap share very similar audiences, putting the latter's engagement/time spent and ad dollars at risk, the analyst said. The Chinese app is gaining traction with advertisers, which could put pressure on Snap's budgets.

Photo by Julián Gentilezza on Unsplash

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