Gulf influencers flock to TikTok as Instagram begins to die out, experts say

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TikTok could become the go-to platform for influencers across the Gulf, with some experts telling Al Arabiya English that they expect Instagram to die out.

Influencers in the Gulf region have begun to flock to the Chinese social media platform to up their online following.

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To many in Dubai, being a social media influencer is a full-time job. Many influencers in the Gulf are looking to make money out of their social media accounts by promoting companies, brands, products and services.

Tori Yoko, an influencer manager with Trifid media, told Al Arabiya English that Facebook used to be “the platform” but its followers started to dry out.

“It’s for the older generation now,” Yoko added.

When TikTok started, people “thought it was for kids, but that’s already changing. The demand for TikTok is higher,” Yoko said.

Video-posting platform TikTok was first introduced in China some six years ago, but became popular around 2020, being a particular hit with teenagers and a new generation of social media users.

“Recently, there has been a spike in TikTok marketing,” Mahdi Shafiei, founder of Trifid Media told Al Arabiya English.

“Influencers famous on Instagram are migrating to TikTok [because] that’s where the fame is, and that’s where the money is.”

Influencers tend to have around an average of 200,000 to 500,000 followers on TikTok but less on Instagram, said Yoko.

Echoing his sentiment, Shafiei said people can “get about half a million followers overnight” by just posting a video on TikTok.

Remie Salloum, who works with Trifid Media, is just one example of these people.

Salloum, who became an influencer in 2018, has 526,000 followers on Instagram and 1.5 million on TikTok. On Instagram, she is known as a macro influencer, and on TikTok as a mega-influencer.

In a sign that Instagram is trying to keep up with TikTok, it has introduced “Reels,” its own version of short TikTok-like videos, which are becoming increasingly popular among those looking to grow their online following.

Dubai-based influencer Valbona Shehaj said that creating videos on both her Instagram and TikTok accounts helped her acquire 150,000 followers on Instagram and 200,000 on TikTok in less than six months.

“Since Reels debuted two years ago, they’ve become the platform’s fastest-growing feature. They changed the whole game for businesses on the internet in a brand-new way,” Shehaj told Al Arabiya English.

But not everyone shares Shafiei’s concerns that influencers are “100 percent worried” about TikTok’s growing popularity, with many people using both platforms to complement each other.

Salloum uses both Instagram and TikTok to share videos of her day-to-day life as a mother. She said that TikTok helped her grow her following, which in turn pushed up her Instagram following.

“When TikTok came out… I started working on my profile, and this is where I really found my growth,” she told Al Arabiya English.

And despite TikTok propelling her following, she does not think that this means the end for Instagram.

“Instagram [is] trying to stay up-to-date [on social media trends]. I don’t think it’s going to die out,” she said.

“A lot of people they are still associating to Instagram with upscale content. And the TikTok with a bit more like, casual content.”

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