These days, TikTok seems to be everywhere. It had a session at this year’s Advertising Week in New York, an esteemed conference for marketing and advertising professionals. Big celebrities like Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello are on the app. Even the NFL has gotten involved and signed a multi-year partnership with TikTok. It seems no industry can escape this app’s influence.
With its current popularity in full swing, one question may naturally come to mind: Will TikTok last?
In this article, we’ll help you understand what TikTok is, how it came to be, and if it’s projected to last for the long term.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is an app used to create and share short videos. Users make their own accounts and upload videos of them doing anything from lip-synching to performing comedy acts.
It’s not the first of its kind. In fact, TikTok, as we know it today, is actually a combination of two apps:
- 1. Musical.ly, which was created by Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang in 2014.
- 2. TikTok, which was created in 2016 and made available for use outside of China in 2017.
The original TikTok was owned by ByteDance, who bought musical.ly in 2017 and merged the two into one app, the TikTok we know now. they did this and made it available in August of 2018.
How Successful Has TikTok Been?
Learn about some specific successes that have caused the app to take off.
Here are some solid stats that encompass TikTok’s success:
- TikTok has over 500 million active users. This places it above apps like Snapchat and Twitter.
- In the first quarter of 2019, the app was downloaded by more than 180 million users. 88.6 million of them from India.
- It’s is available in 155 countries.
- Almost 70% of users watch another user’s video and 55% upload their own.
Specific Aspects Users Enjoy
While TikTok does have some impressive stats, here are some specific aspects that users enjoy:
Language Isn’t a Barrier: On an app that’s primarily based on music, language isn’t a barrier. Users in China can enjoy content made by creators in the U.S., and vice versa, all without worrying about a language barrier. According to The New Yorker, TikTok is focusing its efforts on dominating the Japanese, Indian, and American markets. These efforts will develop this app into a commodity enjoyed on a worldwide scale.
The Videos Are Timeless: Your video doesn’t need to be posted a minute ago to gain popularity. Videos from months ago can suddenly resurface and become viral.
Challenges: Users love the various challenges that take place on the app. They enjoy posting them and challenging others to do the same. Users can easily find similarly-focused videos using hashtags. One challenge that has gained popularity is the Fake Plane Challenge where creators use random household objects to make it look like they’re on an airplane in the sky.
What’s Threatening TikTok’s Growth?
While TikTok is certainly a fun app that allows for a great degree of creativity, there are some reasons to believe it may fall out favor.
Its Perception of Time
Because of TikTok’s algorithm, time seems to be an illusion on the app. Users cannot see when a user uploaded a video or the age of an account. This makes it difficult to see when something was posted. Because you can see what time and day a comment was posted, users often rely on these messages to get an accurate sense of when a video was posted.
This lack of linear time on the app presents some problems:
- It shows irrelevant content. Users scroll through this app’s homepage vertically. On the homepage, you’re presented with a series of videos selected by an algorithm. One video may have been posted a minute ago, and the next one you view could have been posted two months ago.
- It results in video-stealing. Because it’s hard to pinpoint when a video was posted, originality is a slippery slope on TikTok. Users can steal others’ ideas with few repercussions.
Some argue that this lack of time is a good thing. It can allow older content to resurface and make anyone a star instantly. It also allows users to escape from world events and focus on comedy, entertainment, and creativity. It all depends on user preference and only time will tell if this approach will cause TikTok to go under.
Its Inability to Keep Creators Happy
Creators may begin to turn elsewhere to post their content, as TikTok doesn’t offer a way for creators to make money. Its biggest competition in this aspect is YouTube, which allows creators to monetize their videos through ads. As a creator on TikTok, you can secure brand deals for individual posts, but these must be obtained on your own. The app also allows users to get tipped for live streams, but this income is often negligible.
It Has The Characteristics of a “Fad” App
Not much changed when TikTok and musical.ly merged into one. This is dangerous, as users’ retention rates may fall. Apps like HQ Trivia and Vine faded in popularity due to a lack of evolution. If TikTok wants to stick around, it needs to expand on its core experience like Snapchat did with its disappearing messages and temporary stories.
It’s Rocky Relationships with Worldwide Regulators
In February of 2019, TikTok settled a privacy concern with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for $5.7 million.
Known as Douyin in China, this app has been accused of showing content that is supposed to be censored to Chinese audiences.
Its dicey relationship with worldwide regulators such as these may make it’s future unpredictable.
So, Is TikTok Here to Stay?
TikTok has been one of the fastest-growing social media apps of the century. While it’s tricky to give an exact prediction, we believe the app is in it for the long run. It offers former Vine users a chance to revisit their favorite app. It also grants young users an experience that is truly unique from other popular social media apps like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. As long as it is aware of its shortcomings and takes action to address them, this lip-synching app should stand the test of time.
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