The countdown is on for Microsoft or another company to swoop in and acquire TikTok in the U.S. by mid-September. Over the weekend, it was reported by the Wall Street Journal that Twitter and Tiktok were in preliminary talks for a possible combination. But it is unclear whether Twitter will pursue the acquisition, as they may not have the cash.
In recent weeks, those of us who spend way too much time on the app have laughed at the “my last TikTok before it gets banned,” posts, but really, what are we supposed to do if the app isn’t acquired by a U.S. company and gets banned? Where will we learn dance moves from teenagers that we’d be mortified to do in public? Not everyone can get a sweet Netflix special to keep us entertained.
Fret not. Should TikTok get banned in 2020, officially dethroning 2016 as the worst year ever, there are a few alternatives out there to explore, whether it is for marketing purposes or just to take a brain break.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Facebook-owned Instagram launched Reels in the U.S. and 50 other countries, doing what Facebook does best – copying their competitors. Currently, there are over one billion monthly active users on Instagram and over 500 million users use the Stories feature each day. For comparison, TikTok has over 800 million active users. With Reels built-in to Instagram, it isn’t hard to imagine that many of its users will flock to test out the new feature as they did with Stories or bring their already engaged TikTok audience over. In fact, Facebook has already begun luring TikTok creators by offering financial incentives.
- Video Length: TikTok users have the choice to post videos as short as 15 seconds or as long as 60 seconds – perfect for spilling the tea TikTok videos. 🐸☕️ Reels users are limited to 15 seconds.
- Choice of Music: TikTok does have licensing deals with various music agencies and labels, and allows users to upload their own sounds. Reels users can search for a song from the Instagram music library or upload their own sounds.
- Available on: iOs, Android
Reels features AR filters with a range of effects. But like TikTok, Reels provides a 3-second countdown timer, lets users choose whether their profile is public or private, shows engagement metrics (shares, likes, and comments), changes the speed of the video, and gives creators a way to line up different takes in the same video. One difference between the comment sections is that TikTok allows the creators to reply to comments with videos. A major difference is that you need an Instagram account to watch Reels, but you don’t need an account for TikTok.
I admit that I scrolled around Reels but I wasn’t a huge fan. At the moment, a lot of the videos are repurposed from TikTok and my video feed wasn’t as tailored to my interests. Additionally, Reels’s biggest problem is replicating what TikTok does best, which is providing us with a constant stream of videos, as noted by Julia Alexander on a recent piece she wrote for The Verge. Instead, Reels wants us to find what we want, whereas TikTok surfaces the content we crave. Plus, Reels is buried in the Explore page, making it easy for users to gloss over.
As for advertising, Instagram already has a trusted and successful model for ads, and we can see companies capitalizing on the new feature for more advertising (as if we needed more).
Vine (remember Vine?) co-founder Dom Hofmann launched Byte in early 2020 and it quickly proved to be a worthy competitor to TikTok with 1.3 million downloads in its first week. While there isn’t much user data, it is impressive that the app received more downloads than the 775K downloads Vine received its first week.
- Video Length: Byte limits videos to six-second videos that loop.
- Choice of Music: Creators can upload videos on the Byte app and use the built-in royalty-free audio library, or they can create a video and add their own sounds or music to it. Other users can use the uploaded sounds.
- Available on: iOs, Android
To use the app, users must log in with Apple or with Google, which limits the number of users. Once logged in, your homepage features two timelines, one for the accounts you’re following, and one for “your mix,” which similar to TikTok, features a random mix of endless videos. Your profile page shows your Bytes, rebytes (like “revines”), and your likes. The search page features videos by category including LGBTQ+, cosplay, alt, indie, cottagecore, and tons more, and you can see the number of users that follow that category. For example, the food category has 4.3K followers and 2.3K videos.
I barely came across any video with over 1.5K likes while perusing the “your mix” page or while searching for popular videos under each category, letting me know that Byte may not be as popular as an option for individual users, creators, and marketers. And that might be because it is a new app and most of its creators are bringing the TikTok content format to it, rather than creating content for the platform.
Two seconds on the app and Triller already looks promising. The AI-powered music sharing entertainment platform which launched in 2015 has been downloaded more than 250 million times worldwide and boasts 65 million active users – an increase from October of last year when Triller reported 13 million active monthly users and 60 million total downloads.
Triller originally launched as a short music video app, then in 2016, it evolved into a social media network, allowing users to follow and be followed. It features a music feed and a social feed. The app creators see their platform as the adult version of TikTok.
Earlier this year Triller announced that it would integrate Triller into the Snap feed and story, for Triller users, allowing Snapchat users to create professional-looking music videos via the integration. Additionally, Triller is hip hop and EDM heavy and has the backing of well-known celebrities and owners including The Weeknd, Marshmello, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Pitbull, MeekMill, 21 Savage, and others.
- Video Length: Triller’s default video setting is 16 seconds. However, you can make it shorter or up to 30 seconds long.
- Choice of Music: Users have the option to use songs from their own library, or in their device, browse through the Triller library of songs (which includes major artists), or use the songs from your Spotify account by linking it to Triller.
- Available on: iOs, Android
One of Triller’s most unique features is editing videos for the user using its AI capabilities, while TikTok lets the user edit the video themselves. The application organizes its Discover pages with Leaderboards, categories, promoted campaigns, and top videos. TikTok displays trending hashtags, top videos, and promoted campaigns because the algorithm constantly sources videos from the categories and genres the user is most interested in. We definitely think that exploring Triller could be worth your time.
Dubsmash launched in late 2014 but was overshadowed by Musical.ly, which also launched that year. ByteDance Ltd. acquired Musical.ly Inc. in 2017 and merged it into TikTok in 2018, leaving Dubsmash in the dust. But according to Sensor Tower, Dubsmash’s weekly download worldwide recently soared a staggering 235 percent from the previous week, and U.S. users accounted for 47 percent of the app’s downloads from April through June. You could say TikTok users are feeling a wee bit anxious to find an alternative.
- Video Length: Dubsmash videos can be up to 10 seconds long.
- Choice of Music: Users can explore sounds from the Dubsmash library, iTunes, or upload their own sounds.
- Available on: iOs, Android
The Dubsmash interface will be familiar to TikTok users, as it looks almost similar, featuring a following and “for you” feed, likes, comments, and shares, an explore page, popular music and sounds, and the ability to save videos. Honestly, if Dubsmash really tried to make a comeback, it could – it just needs the creators and new features such as uploading and arranging multiple clips, better AR filters, and music. After all, it revived itself to #2 to TikTok just a few months ago, and tech giants took notice, even approaching the app to buy it.
Testing, 1, 2, 3
There are many alternatives out there with smaller followings such as Funimate and Chingari that are waiting for you! Test the waters and let us know which app best works for your content. Now I’m off to delete all of these apps from my phone before foreign governments infiltrate my life. Well, not TikTok. Donald Trump can pry it from my cold, dead hands. Happy doomscrolling!