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TikTok: What It Is and How It Became One of the World’s Most Popular Apps

TikTok, which started under a different name, is one of the most popular apps for content creators and rising stars. Here is a breakdown of how Musical.ly became TikTok and now one of the most downloaded apps in the world.

TikTok which rose to prominence in 2018 as one of the best video streaming apps, was founded in 2014 as Musical.ly. It offered users a multitude of music and dialogue options allowing them to lip-sync and make videos then share their creations on social media sites like Instagram.

Musical.ly was very popular, helping some content creators rise to fame. However, the app was bought out by a Chinese company called ByteDance, which renamed it to TikTok and moved all users and their content to the new platform in 2017.

Let’s take a closer look at what TikTok is, why it is so popular, and how it differs from Musical.ly.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is an app that lets users create and share 3 to 15-second videos of themselves lip-syncing, doing magic tricks, or performing comedy, among others. Gaining popularity in 2018, it is now available in more than 150 countries and 75 different languages. The app runs on both iOS and Android.

Launched in China under the name Douyin back in 2016, the app now has a monthly user count of 300 million.

TikTok vs. Musical.ly

While both apps are built around the idea of short-form video, TikTok offers much more compared to Musical.ly, which only allowed users to lip-sync to music. TikTok, on the other hand, offers a large selection of sounds and song snippets with the option to add filters and special effects.

In September 2018, TikTok added a feature that allows users to record their reactions to a video and share it. It also added a well-being feature, alerting users if they spent more than two hours on the app.

The main difference between the two apps is the vast number of options TikTok has to offer for video creation.

Rise in Popularity

Ever since its launch, TikTok has been gaining popularity, especially among teenagers. It was in October 2018 that the app really shot up, amassing 500 million users monthly. It was one of the most downloaded video and photo apps on the Apple store.

Some of the main reason for this popularity are:

  • Celebrity support

The app is used by some high-profile celebrities, Jimmy Fallon getting special credit for helping it skyrocket in popularity.

Fallon had already shown interest in the app but cashed in on a paid partnership to help promote it on his show in November 2018. He started a challenge section, using TikTok as his base of operation for the challenges.

He was seen asking his fans to take the #TumbleweedChallenge and post videos of it on TikTok. The challenge went viral, garnering a massive 10.4 million engagements and 8,000 entries.

TikTok also has paid partnerships with celebrities in other countries. In Thailand, it is promoted by social media celebrity Kaykai Salaider, and actress Aashika Bhatia helps spread the word in India.

  • Regional content

Although TikTok is a global app, it puts a lot of emphasis on regional content. It runs local contests and challenges, capturing them through localized hashtags.

The app runs 1 million auditions across different countries. Participants are given themes to create videos for each contest, with the top creators awarded prizes. A contest held in Russia drew 31,000 entries, and millions of views helped with promoting the app in the region.

TikTok also sends out recommendations for users, ensuring that they are always updated on the latest trending videos.

  • Creation, sharing, and viewing

The short video format coupled with easy creation and sharing makes the app extremely easy and fun to use. People can create a video and upload it immediately.

The same can be said for the viewing side. The videos are short and fun to watch, and people can scroll through them with one swipe.

How can brands advertise through TikTok?

Unlike most apps of its ilk, TikTok does not offer any space for advertisements. However, its rising popularity is making brands realize the potential it offers, and they are starting to come up with unique ways to advertise through TikTok.

One such brand, Guess, ran a #InMyDenim campaign in September 2018. Guess called upon all US-based TikTok users to create videos wearing denim and share them using #InMyDenim. This was the beginning of TikTok’s first-ever brand partnership in the US.

Brands also partner with TikTok celebrities or influencers, paying them to create promotional content. This makes for a win-win situation for all parties.

Final thoughts

TikTok has seen a surge in popularity over the past year, but this does not guarantee it will survive and become as big as Instagram or Facebook. To ensure its survival, TikTok will have to continue adding new features to the app to keep it fresh and entertaining for all age groups. It will also have to find a way to incorporate brands into the mix and make the app more marketing-friendly.

TikTok has become one of the most addictive apps out there, offering a clean interface and entertaining short-form videos. It remains unclear whether it has the potential to become one of the best video apps and maintain its popularity. With more developers aiming to make products like TikTok, one thing is certain: ByteDance will have to keep innovating to attract users and get brands interested.

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Written by Armaghan

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