TikTok’s growth has been absolutely phenomenal. Since its inception in 2017, the app has managed to amass over 1.5 billion downloads, outperforming its biggest rival Instagram into the bargain. Though some now say that TikTok’s growth is starting to slow down, that could simply be because it’s hit market saturation; it’s managed to attract pretty much everyone from its target demographic, so downloads will naturally slow as everyone already has TikTok on their device.
So, what has TikTok done to get here? Why is this app so popular, and how has it succeeded where others have failed? More to the point, how has TikTok managed to grow as fast as it has? We’re going to take a look at how the Chinese social media giant has managed to rise from relatively humble beginnings, becoming one of the most popular social platforms around quickly than many of its competitors have. Here’s what TikTok has done to become so big so quickly.
TikTok’s parent company is huge
ByteDance, the company that bought TikTok during the Musical.ly merger, is an absolutely colossal business operation. Because of that, ByteDance has a huge amount of money to put towards TikTok’s success, which means massive marketing pushes and close work with brands and influencers (more on which later). It stands to reason that an app with the might of ByteDance behind it would be destined for success, especially with the sizeable patronage TikTok already enjoyed.
It’s a better version of Musical.ly
While Musical.ly is a fine idea for an app – lip-sync to music and other media and show off your prowess to your friends – it’s not really enough to carry an entire platform by itself. TikTok, by contrast, is much more focused on generating organic, social media-ready content. Lip-syncing is still a huge part of TikTok’s appeal, but it’s accompanied by all sorts of other content including challenges and Vine-style short-form comedy skits. TikTok is much more well-rounded than Musical.ly was.
Vine died, long live TikTok
Despite widespread popularity among content creators and fans alike, the short-form video platform Vine closed its doors for good back in 2016. Since then, many post-mortems have arisen trying to figure out what happened to Vine and why it vanished. The truth is that TikTok has taken its crown. You can create videos of up to a minute in length on TikTok, so that’s where many of the Vine content creators have migrated to. TikTok succeeded quickly in part because it filled an open niche.
Very strong content algorithms
On apps like Instagram or Facebook, the recommended content algorithms aren’t necessarily as robust as they could be. By contrast, the TikTok algorithm – the one by which the app recommends you new content and helps you to create your own – is well-made and easy to understand. You’re simply more likely to spend extended amounts of time on TikTok because its recommendations are better, which also means you’ll recommend the app to your friends, thus shoring up its download totals.
The community is less toxic than on other apps
TikTok has stated that its mission is to create a positive, welcoming community around its app. ByteDance has launched several initiatives to this end, including its “You Are In Control” series, which aims to educate its users about internet security and the degree of control they have over their content. It’s easier to become TikTok famous than it is to reach that level on other apps, so you’re more likely to find a place for yourself in its community. A strong sense of belonging fosters more engagement with an app.
It appeals strongly to smaller communities
We’ve seen that TikTok has taken off majorly in smaller, more rural communities in countries like India and China. This is because it’s quite hard to come by entertainment in those areas; since they tend to be poorer, the residents have more trouble getting hold of conventional digital entertainment. Enter TikTok, which offers a near-constant rotation of organically-generated content for users to consume. It stands to reason that this would make the app popular among those communities.
While TikTok certainly has its share of competitors – not least among them Facebook’s own Lasso – there’s no denying that none of them have managed to reach the level of engagement that TikTok has. That’s because TikTok was first and fastest in a world where your unique niche is critical to success. Lasso and other competitors simply won’t be able to reach the same level as TikTok, because they’ll forever be seen as ripoffs. TikTok was inspired by Vine, but it does more than enough to distinguish itself.
It’s the perfect brand marketing platform
If you’re a brand looking to raise awareness on social media, there’s nowhere better to do it than on TikTok. The combination of viral marketing and organic community atmosphere make TikTok the ideal place to take your brand; since it’s not oversaturated by celebrities like Instagram or Twitter, you’re more likely to find engagement from ordinary folks who will buy your products or services. TikTok provides the perfect platform not only for content creation but also for brand marketing, so it’s been adopted on a massive scale by brands and users alike.