What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media app where you can create and share videos. It was first launched in China under the name Douyin in 2016 but was made available for countries outside of China in 2017 by the Chinese developer ByteDance. ByteDance purchased Musical.ly, an app for lip-syncing to 15 second long videos, and merged it with TikTok on August 2, 2018.
Today, there’s a variety of videos you can make on TikTok: you can record yourself while you’re dancing, making funny videos on your own or with friends, doing tricks, lip-syncing, and many more.
TikToks featuring pets are also popular, while many people also film inspirational videos and show their skills and talent. Videos are usually 15 – 60 seconds long and give plenty of time to anyone to create whatever they like.
Its popularity is truly something to behold: in 2018 it became the most downloaded app in the US, and in February 2019, TikTok and Douyin hit one billion downloads globally. It is now worth $75 billion and is the most valuable private company in the world. Unbelievable, right?
Why is TikTok so popular?
No matter your age, it’s impossible you haven’t heard of it. It’s a hit especially with the young audience, who watch and make TikToks daily. But there have been plenty of video apps before, so what makes TikTok different from them?
Firstly, the fact you can make 15 – 60 seconds long videos is a huge advantage over all the other video apps. Remember Vine and their 6 seconds long videos? TikTok gives you more time and thus more opportunities.
Secondly, you can make any kind of video you want. We’ve already mentioned all the different types, so it’s a great platform for anyone to express themselves.
Musical.ly was already pretty successful by itself (with over 70 million downloads and over 10 million new videos posted daily) and the lip-syncing feature made it the number one downloaded app in the iOS App Store, so ByteDance buying it and merging the Musical.ly and TikTok userbase together was a great move.
Another thing that makes it better than all other social media could be that original content isn’t a necessity, which brings me back to my previous point: anyone can post videos and get a ton of views. A huge number of TikToks are remixes of already existing ones, and lip syncs, as well.
Editing tools, but not too refined
Instagram influencers try to sell us ideal versions of themselves by using Photoshop and Facetune, and according to a study done by the Royal Society for Public Health in the United Kingdom, Instagram is the social media with the worst impact on mental health.
On TikTok though, people film themselves for a few seconds and even though there are editing tools, this social media is where people go to be silly and look at other silly stuff. Granted, there are influencers on every social media, but it is way harder to Photoshop yourself into photos of different cities on TikTok.
TikTok’s huge and dedicated userbase
In 2018, TikTok was downloaded more than 660 million times, and in 2019, it had 700 million active users and 800 million installs. To compare it to Instagram, Instagram took 6 years to get 500 million users, while TikTok gained 75 million in December 2018 alone. Instagram is undeniably losing ground to TikTok.
In November 2018, Facebook launched a TikTok copy called Lasso, which gained 70.000 US users between November and February, while TikTok gained 39.6 million US users during the same time frame. Remember when Snapchat came up with stories and Facebook copied them? It seems like this attempt didn’t quite work out the way Facebook wanted.
Also, it is much easier to build a following on TikTok than it is on Instagram. Even if you were making original content that people would love, you would have a harder time getting followers on Instagram than you would on TikTok. This is because videos on TikTok get reposted in a way since people can mash your videos with their own and post it again. This way, your face can end up on the feeds of the followers of your followers.
Commercialization of TikTok
While both Instagram and Facebook are pretty ad-heavy, while TikTok isn’t (not yet at least). They started showing short ads in January 2019, and they now have an advertising system, but it isn’t driving people away from their platform yet.
Even though ads are effective, people are tired of them and seeing the same exact thing getting advertised to them over and over again. How many times have you rated an ad irrelevant or repetitive?
Trust me, you are not the only one. 84% of users think there are too many ads on social media. And on TikTok, ads aren’t as abundant as they are on other platforms, which makes it more successful, as well.
In June 2019, the average duration of an app session on TikTok was 9.7 minutes, while it was 4.95 on Facebook and 2.9 on Instagram. Pretty telling, right?
So, to answer the question from the title: I don’t think TikTok is the new Instagram nor Facebook. Its popularity cannot be matched by either of these platforms, and the concept hasn’t successfully been copied yet.
It will remain popular until the ads become too much and a new app with a new innovative concept appears and swoops up the young audience.
Facebook’s userbase is still quite active (it is estimated that 1.62 billion people log onto Facebook daily), but they still haven’t managed to copy TikToks concept and grab the attention of teens and young adults. Instagram has been on a sharp decline since early May 2019 and TikTok is only getting more popular.
If you are planning to use TikTok for your business, now is the time!