TikTok is a short video creation application that allows users to sing, dance, act, or mime audio clips or pre-recorded songs.
The platform previously known as Musical.ly has become one of the most successful apps in the world. TikTok has over 500 million active users worldwide and was one of the most downloaded apps in 2019 on both iOS and Android.
TikTok is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. It’s the result of an amalgamation between two existing apps: musical.ly and douyin. TikTok is unusual because it’s the only internationally-successful Chinese social network, with an appeal that has encapsulated the Western world.
The app thrives off trending hashtags and challenges. These are community led and usually start by one short video introducing the particular challenge. The idea is - people copy the challenge or trending activity and produce their own version. Challenges can come and go quite quickly, but it’s those that are picked up by celebrities or online influencers that carry the most momentum.
The idea of producing short videos or clips in an application first emerged with Vine in 2012. Vine had around 200 million monthly users worldwide, aged 18-24. After Vine was discontinued by Twitter in 2016, it left a gap in the market - cue TikTok, launched internationally in January 2018.
It seems that every few years, a new application appears that begins to redefine the way the world uses social media. TikTok is currently leading the way for generation Z - offering even more diverse ways to interact in the digital world.
What makes TikTok so appealing?
Young people crave micro-entertainment and short bursts of distraction. This is one of the main appeals of TikTok. Videos are fun, short and trendy.
People can follow other accounts and create a feed of new content from the creators they enjoy most. There is also a “For You” feed that shows a random assortment of videos from others. This mechanism offers an endless thread of new things to watch and fuels the highly addictive nature of the app. What’s good about the “For You” feed is - it shows content from users that you wouldn’t typically follow. It’s perhaps another reason why TikTok is such an appealing platform. The app allows those with even the smallest followings to “go viral” and become online celebrities overnight. TikTok also has the standard features that you’d expect from a social network including direct messages and the option to “like” videos.
TikTok is also ideally optimised to create memes. People can re-purpose audio footage from other videos and create a unique take on someone else’s idea. It’s become the newest platform for turning the average user into viral sensations. Currently one of the most popular people on TikTok is Loren Gray, who has over 38 million followers.
Even though we’ve explained the basics, the only real way to understand TikTok is to give it a try.