With the proliferation of modern technology, it is now easier than ever to spread content and become a viral sensation. However, with the abundance of apps and sites that are now available to us, what was it about Tiktok that allowed it to take its place as one of the most popular apps of 2020. With over 1.5billion all-time downloads, Tiktok engages with different audiences ranging from generation Z to boomers. Even without the app itself, it is most likely that everyone has now at least come clips of different kids lip-syncing and dancing to the same song again and again.
For some context, it is important to know that TikTok was not always the Tiktok we know it as today.
A Chinese internet company called ByteDance created a video app called Douyin and users could upload short videos of themselves lip-syncing to songs and dancing. On the other hand, there was another app that rivalled Douyin called ‘Musical.ly’ and was mainly popular amongst a young Western demographic. ByteDance eventually bought the rights to own Musical.ly and merged the two popular video apps together to rebrand it as the TikTok we are so familiar with now. It is important to note that TikTok had a relatively clear path to success with no formidable rivals. The previously popular video app Vine had shut down just as TikTok was created, so famous influencers from Vine and Musical.ly were looking for a new platform to engage with their fans. Hence, fans of these established influencers similarly moved onto TikTok and this helped the company garner even more attention and foot traffic.
With the fast-paced nature of current social media platforms, it is important to keep content interesting to captivate the attention of the audiences. Unlike YouTube, the social media platform implements a 1-minute cap to all the videos. This ensures that users stay on the app for longer and watch more videos. One of the biggest pros to Tiktok is that users are able to create short videos about everything and anything. ByteDance appropriately changed the original purpose of TikTok and users were no longer limited to lip-syncing and dancing. Hence, this widened the demographic on who used Tiktok and the audiences that watched these video content. Some used it as a way to create hilarious videos meant only for friends whereas others rose to fame by promoting their music (looking at you Lil Nas X). Furthermore, the app allows users to launch a hashtag campaign, which alerts audiences what is trendy and viral. Thus, this means that users need to continually be on TikTok to know what’s fresh and cool. The emphasis on virality is one reason why the app became as successful as it is now. Hence, by understanding the wants of their current users, TikTok successfully changed their interface to cater to the needs of the modern user.
It is important to mention that TikTok was created to make people famous.
It was created so that people also stayed on the app for as long as people. Hence, more and more people are becoming viral sensations with the use of TikTok. This obviously appeals to a mass audience and stimulates the continual popularity of TikTok. Even if it doesn’t allow users to capitalise on their content, they can link their personal social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, which is then used to sponsor big brand products. This doesn’t even apply specifically to influencers but also middle-aged women who want to spread the word about their cake-making business. Thus, TikTok does not only engage with the younger audience but literally reaches out to people of all ages. Therefore, the easy contact with a wide audience is a great element in supplementing the success of this app.
So, I won’t delve into the bad parts of TikTok but it is evident to see that this video app has been successful in capturing the hearts of practically everyone who owns a phone. It’s been credited as a form of income for some and a mere time waster to others. Yet, it is important to look at popular apps like TikTok to understand that success did not boil down to dumb luck, but rather understanding the needs and wants of users. TikTok was able to live up to its predecessors like Vine and has definitely showcased the world with its immense power. However, with looming political criticisms, it will be interesting to see if TikTok will continue its success or if it’ll join the ‘Vine is dead’ meme.