TikTok, the most downloaded app in the world and still the fastest growing can credit its success to a number of factors. Beyond being an extremely popular social media platform amongst the younger generation, brands and creatives alike have used it as an outlet for content sharing, production, and product marketing with outstanding results, but what makes it so successful? What made it so popular for both creators and viewers?
Initially launched in Beijing, within only a few years TikTok had blown beyond the borders of China and boasts similar user numbers to that of Netflix, Instagram, and Snapchat. Bytedance, the company behind TikTok always intended it to go global. Hence, in 2018 Bytedacne bought Musical.ly which already had almost 200 million users, a lot of whom were in the United States. Bytedance had already launched an app that uses AI to create very curated personally curated feeds for users and combined this with the video-sharing setup of Musical.ly, which in turn, became of the leading reasons for its success.
The way in which TikTok was initially designed and marketed to the younger generation is hugely important. First of all, it was already established that a business model like that of TikTok, works. This was demonstrated by the success of no longer operational Vine, which was around from 2012 until 2016. It was very popular amongst the same demographic, and also offered the same that TikTok does; it is fundamentally different and offers users an escape from Instagram or Facebook, that lets them have their own creative space, away from other generations. This has now expanded, as previously mentioned to all ages and even organizations having a profile, similar to Instagram, and has done so successfully with benefits for everyone.
The in-app features and layout play into the desirability of the app throughout. From the get-go, once you have downloaded and opened the app, it takes you straight to the content. This is very different from the likes of Facebook or Instagram, which require a sign-up to access any of the features. Second, the app does a very good job of interconnecting other social media platforms, making it easy to share videos with any other outlet. Consequently, this has made it very popular to share videos on Instagram from TikTok. Furthermore, one of the reasons for this is that it is far easier to edit and create a video in TikTok, as it offers a vast amount of features while still remaining simple to use within the editing section of the app. Lastly, and potentially most importantly, TikTok’s algorithm is arguably the foundation of user satisfaction and success. On one hand, it does an excellent job at presenting a feed that can often be unnervingly accurate to the user’s interest and viewing trends, but also great at delivering one video to the intended audience, which has become extremely popular for brands or individuals using it to market themselves. On the other hand, it allows users a once thought to be extinct feature, the ability to go viral, and this is referring to organic viral, where nothing is spent on ad campaigns and whatnot, unlike what is required on other platforms.
So what is in store for TikTok next? Still rapidly growing and becoming more popular around the world, there are plenty of ways it can evolve. Only time will tell though, yet it is intriguing whether it will carry the same components that make it so successful in the first place forward.