The Story of TikTok: How It Took the World by a Storm?
The world of social media is really interesting. Just when you think you have seen it all, something new pops up to surprise you.
With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram dominating the social media space, we somehow thought that this is it, this is what social media is all about. But then, something showed up.
The youth was expressing a rapidly growing interest in some vines like video sharing apps, and an app called Musical.ly was topping the charts. It was simple yet very engaging. It let the users create and share short lip-sync videos.
Many found it funny, many found it crazy and even sometimes cringeworthy, but one thing was evident, it was hitting all the right notes on all the app stores and was getting more popular day by day.
So, let us talk about how it all began.
Birth Of Musical.ly
Musical.ly was founded in 2014 by two Chinese entrepreneurs named Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang in Shanghai, China.
Their first venture was an online learning platform that let users create 3-5 minute videos, but they soon started doubting its viability. Hence, they chose to start off with something that entertains people.
The concept was simple, a platform that would make it easy for people to shoot music videos and share with their friends and family in a social network with just a few taps.
Musical.ly managed to grab the number one spot in iTunes App charts by mid-2015 surpassing YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. By the summer of 2016, it had over 90 million registered users, and by the end of May 2017, Musical.ly acquired 200 plus million users.
ByteDance Creates Tiktok
ByteDance is an Internet Technology company headquartered in Beijing, China. It was founded in 2012 by a Chinese internet entrepreneur and a former Microsoft engineer, Zhang Yiming.
Before TikTok, ByteDance was already well established in the Chinese market with its core product – Toutiao, a content delivery platform that offered content in many formats, including texts, microblogs, visuals, Q&A posts, etc.
With Toutiao, Zhang was able to follow the market trends and people’s appetite for entertainment on social media, especially the young population. He decided to develop an app that is interesting and unique for the young netizens.
ByteDance introduced a short video shooting and sharing app called Douyin in China in September 2016. The app gained 100 million users within a year, who viewed more than 1 billion videos every day.
It won’t be incorrect to call it an ‘overnight success.’
In September of 2017, the app was introduced to the world, but with a different name – TikTok. By 2018, TikTok was already ruling the mobile app market with well over 500 million active users worldwide.
ByteDance Buys Musical.ly
ByteDance saw Musical.ly’s potential and the opportunity it had to offer, and in November 2017, it reportedly acquired Musical.ly for a whopping 1 billion dollars, making it the company’s biggest-ever acquisition.
Both the apps were merged and became a single brand – TikTok. All Musical.ly users became TikTok users. However, Douyin (TikTok’s Chinese version) stayed and operated as a separate app in China.
As of now, TikTok has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times on Google Play Store and App Store, with over 800 million monthly active users, including celebrities like Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Jessica Alba, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Nick Jonas, Will Smith, and many others.
We can certainly say that all of them are impelled by the tremendous potential of the platform to attract and engage the target audience, and also get more hearts (TikTok’s currency).
In addition to the popularity factor, the app has got immense possibilities in terms of business as well. No wonder why brands like Apple, Sony, The Washington Post, FIFA, etc. are joining in.
Race Against The Social Media Giants
TikTok’s continuously rising popularity is surely a great feat, but it in no way lets it steer clear of the highly competitive and demanding nature of the social media industry.
The already established social media companies are way ahead in terms of market influence, business ventures, and revenue generation, and it is insanely difficult to equal them in these areas, let alone surpass them.
Due to the nature of TikTok’s target audience, it is not at all easy to achieve big numbers through ads, which means lesser revenue and lesser gas to keep the engine running.
But things are now changing in TikTok’s interest.
Some Stats About TikTok
- In 2019, TikTok became the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store with more than 33 million downloads, followed by YouTube & Instagram.
- More than 40% of the TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24.
- It has been downloaded more than 467 million times in India, about one-third of its total downloads globally.
- The number of adults in the US using TikTok has grown more than 5.5 times since 2017.
- Users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the TikTok app.
While TikTok may be a newbie in the social media space, it stands as a strong contender when it comes to acquisition and engagement. It has banked upon the decreasing attention span of the netizens, especially teenagers, and has gained an edge in creating videos that could go viral.
TikTok has evolved quite a bit since it began. It is far more than just a lip-synching channel for teenagers now. It will be interesting to see how it grows in the future, whether it expands its demographic spectrum and most importantly, how it enhances its revenue potential.
What do you think? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.