TikTok is a short-form video app, allowing users to create and share 15-second to 3-minute-long videos. Recently, TikTok was named the most downloaded app of 2020. It is the only app not owned by Facebook to be in the top-five of global app downloads.
TikTok is known for its viral videos and trends, often utilizing certain music, sound clips, TikTok’s “duet” and “react” features, and TikTok video filters. Popular trends include dances to specific songs, food recipes, and even a user-generated musical based on the Pixar movie Ratatouille.
TikTok is also known for its impressively accurate user-algorithm. Its homepage, the For You Page (FYP), is a curated feed of recommended videos based on the specific user’s individual experience on the app. Though the algorithm is top-secret, the Wall Street Journal investigation team determined that the app measures the amount of time a user lingers over a piece of content, in order to determine what videos to keep serving a user.
The endless scroll of the hyper-specific FYP page and interactive nature of TikTok made it a worldwide hit last year.
Where Did TikTok Come From?
TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. The app formed from two different Chinese-developed apps: Muscial.ly and Douyin. Douyin is the Chinese version of TikTok, which was launched in China in 2016 by ByteDance. Musical.ly was a worldwide lip-sync video app, first released in 2014. At its peak, it had 200 million worldwide users and in 2017, ByteDance acquired Musical.ly and merged it with TikTok.
Although TikTok and Douyin have the same user interface, the two apps do not have access to each other’s content.
What is the Impact of TikTok?
As we explored in our blog post “Why Are Social Media Platforms Copying Each Other’s Features?”, the growth and popularity of TikTok are causing many other social media platforms to develop similar features. Instagram, for example, launched their Reels feature in August 2020. This June, Instagram further committed to video when the head of Instagram Adam Mosseri declared on his personal Instagram, “I want to start by saying we’re no longer a photo-sharing app.” Many content creators on Instagram are furious after spending years creating a career for themselves through sharing static, visual content on the platform. After the rise of TikTok, it’ll be important to keep video in mind for anyone developing a social media presence.
What Should I Know About TikTok as a Business?
TikTok launched a business platform, called TikTok for Business, at the end of June. Not only can businesses run TikTok ads, but the platform also helps keep businesses up to date on TikTok trends, so they can create videos participating in them. With this approach, TikTok is encouraging brands to actually play and participate in the TikTok ecosystem, rather than relying solely on scroll-interrupting ads.
There are many unique ways brands are participating on TikTok. Sports leagues, like the NBA, are popular by posting short clips of games. Other brands focus on interacting on content that relates to them, like Chewy’s account commenting on a funny dog video. Or you can be lucky enough that users start a trend that advertises your brand for you like Adult Swim was.