Trilller: Short-form Mobile Video for Adults?!?

Monday, September 28, 2020

In an attempt to capitalize on the uncertainty with TikTok, Triller went big by signing TikTok’s most popular content creator, Charlie D’Amelio.  I applaud the bold move by Triller and hope it works out for them.

I had never heard of Triller before last week, even though it has been around longer than TikTok and is allegedly targeted towards adults (more on that later).  I needed to do a bit of research about Trilller.

There is all kinds of information scattered about the internet about Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU) for social media platforms. Unfortunately, none of it seems to be complete or that reliable.  For example, The Verge says “Triller has more than 100 million monthly active users and more than 27 million daily users, according to the company”.  I’m going to assume this is world wide since there is no indication it is US only.

 The VergeCNBC  and Data Reportal all have different takes on DAU and MAU for TikTok and Triller.  To be fair, these numbers seem to be growing wildly and I’m sure it’s hard to get accurate numbers unless you are the source of the downloads.  From the sampling of data I found in a quick search (that took me a long time!), TikTok has anywhere between 2x and 8x the amount of users as Triller.



TikTok Users WW (in millions)

Triller Users WW (in millions)





The Verge



27 (WW?)

100 (WW?)



50 (in US)



Data Reportal





I asked my students what they thought about Triller, because they know far more about social media platforms than I do.  Almost 90% of them had never used it, and 50% of them have never even heard of it.  

Evidently, Triller is supposed to be the adult version of TikTok, according to Triller co-owner Ryan Kavanaugh.  Do adults watch these short form music platforms?  It reminds me of an episode of  “The Profit” when a longboard skateboard manufacturer had middle aged adults as their target market when most skateboard sales go to tweens and teens.

I’m not sold on Triller as a viable alternative to TikTok yet.  Sure, things could change.  However, it seems to be the target market is very committed to TikTok and getting them to switch would require a massive shift.  In addition, I cannot imagine TikTok will lose the ability to be downloaded here in the US.

Statistics Lie. Connect with your customers instead.

Monday, September 14, 2020

I think we all know we need to be very careful with data because statistics lie.  It’s not so much that statistics lie, but stats can be this powerful, sharp tool that gets wielded recklessly (or intentionally) to distort the truth.In a reckless example, a source said:


87% of Gen Z TikTok users who have used Instagram Reelz agree with the statement: “Instagram Reels is basically the same as TikTok.”.


Wow.  As we discussed in my last post, Gen Z students see a huge difference between TikTok and Reelz. Gen Z views Reelz as a cheap knock-off of TikTok.  They also appreciate the relative anonymity of TikTok that will be very difficult to achieve if Reels is a feature of Instagram rather than it’s own separate app. I definitely think some business mistakes could be made if one assumed that Gen Z was equally satisfied with Reels and TikTok.


There was a great article this week about the power of awkward silence. In the article is a linked video where Steve Jobs responds to a harsh question.  Part of his response talks about how we need to focus on the needs of customers and develop products to meet those needs.  We need to refrain from developing cool technology and then trying to find applications for that technology.


A great mentor of mine always stressed the importance of connecting with customers.  If you work in marketing, you should be talking to customers every day.  Think about setting a goal for yourself to speak to ten customers a day.  Schedule an hour in your day, every day, to make customer phone calls, walk the showroom floor, or personally visit a customer site.  You will not regret it.


Sending out surveys to people is not connecting with customers.  There are so many problems with sending out surveys including targeting the right customers, getting authentic responses, and avoiding biased questions.  I guarantee you if the source had visited with some Gen Z customers of Reels and Instagram, there is no way they would concluded that Gen Z feels like “Instagram Reels is the same as TikTok”.


Have conversations with your customers.  Don’t send out a survey.  Even worse, don’t rely on other people’s bogus surveys to make bad decisions.

Is Instagram Stories Just a Watered Down, Wal-Mart Version of TikTok?

Sunday, August 30, 2020

In the words of one of my students, Reels feels like a watered-down, Walmart version of TikTok.  Clearly, Instagram Reels was introduced knowing that it was not going to stack up feature-to-feature with TikTok.  The question is, though, will it stand the test of time as a viable alternative to TikTok.  And as a marketing professional, should I invest some time and money into learning how to optimize advertising to be successful on Reels.


There are a few small problems that I’m sure Instagram will work fairly quickly in regards to some aesthetic and usability features.  Increasing the maximum video length from 15 seconds, improving the accessibility of the Reels content creation interface, and optimizing the swipe process of scrolling through Reels posts will help.


There are a few major problems, though.

  1. The music problems.  It appears Instagram isn’t operating under the same music licensing agreements as TikTok.  The music gets stripped out of saved posts seems to be the biggest among several problems.
  2. The “For you” feature of TikTok is highly appreciated by Gen Z users while the suggested videos from Reels leaves much to be desired.  Users feel like TikTok is delivering the content they want to see.
  3. TikTok’s automated video editing features are really effective in creating great videos and saving time.  Reels lack of automation makes it much more time consuming to create videos and the final products looks and sounds worse.
  4. Biggest problem:  Gen Z sees TikTok as a fun entity that is separate from their public persona.  They can post fun videos without worrying about people’s perception of them being stained, particularly HR and hiring managers.  Gen Z sees Instagram as a more serious social media platform, primarily because the posts you view are highly connected to who you know.  Since TikTok’s “For you” algorithm delivers videos you might find entertaining, but ultimately will typically be people you don’t know, there’s a certain safety in publishing silly content because you are relatively anonymous.


The only solution to truly compete with TikTok would be to pull Reels entirely out of Instagram so it’s a completely stand-alone app.  I really doubt Instagram would consider that as they’d much rather bring that functionality into Instagram so they can appeal to the masses with an app that’s a one-stop shop.


Instagram has a history of adding functionality with copycat features of competing platforms, like when they introduced Stories to compete with SnapChat Stories. I think Stories can be viewed as a successful product feature enhancement.  Instagram is keeping their app relevant by adding the best features of their biggest competitors.


Instagram Stories will never be a direct replacement of TikTok, but adding the functionality of Stories to Instagram helps ensure Instagram stays relevant.  Instagram must add features to continue to appeal to Gen Z because even Twitter and Facebook are considered obsolete by Gen Z at this point!


Fast Facts from Student Sample:  67% of our students use Instagram on a daily basis and 84% are at least occasional users!  I’m definitely going to poll their usage of Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat and others in the near future.