Over recent years, TikTok has been one of the most hyped apps that exploded onto the social media scene with a meteoric rise within a very short period. In July 2020, TikTok recorded over 800 million users and has since seen a drastic increase in popularity.
Tik Tok wasn't always known as it is currently. It began as a musical app named musical.ly and enabled its users to lip-synch multiple songs in 15 seconds to 1-minute intervals. The musical.ly app wasn't that popular but still managed to gain 90 million active users by June 2016. Later on, it was acquired by the ByteDance Company for $1 billion, and they merged it with their app (TikTok). From that point, musical.ly was no more, and all its users transitioned over to TikTok. Most of the features and aspects of musical.ly remained and were integrated into the new app, TikTok.
TikTok has experienced substantial growth from having a community of dancing stars to hilarious original content and memes, which kept expanding. Since its launch, TikTok has had more than 2 billion downloads, and in 2018, it was reported among the most downloaded apps.
This is a unique app has an ML-driven default feed. It is the solution for the "cold start problem"-automatically showing users what they are interested in and "winner takes it all issues"-preventing early adopters from creating the largest follower bases and having the outsize effect on the new users. But what's exactly behind its tremendous success?
The massive popularity growth of TikTok is because it allows individuals of all ages and occupations to use the app to connect with others in their daily lives. TikTok usually provides a vicarious approach to interact with the outside world, especially family, friends, loved ones, etc., through funny and engaging content that has even played a significant role in bridging the distancing gaps that emerged with the pandemic.
Tiktok is a convenient mobile native app that allows the creation of lean and bite-sized content, which we can say are elements that have recently propelled the app's success. Musical.ly was entirely music-based, but TikTok taps into a broader spectrum of creativity niches, including fashion, comedy, food, and dance.
Since there are more gadgets on the planet than people and videos have become one of the favorite consumer's content types, TikTok provides a platform that gives us a glimpse of the future of social media, and its ever-growing worldwide adoption makes it a perfect playground for influencer marketing.
With the surge of TikTok downloads globally, celebrities and high profile individuals got interested in the app. As it's known, any growing platform's success is often connected to the adoption by a widely known celebrity. Tiktok has also convinced many influencers and even celebrities with substantial social media following to partner with them and get the app to create their own content.
This move influences many people to create TikTok accounts and objectively helps the platform become the best influencer marketing app. Big brands such as Calvin Klein, Sony, Guess, and FIFA have already jumped into influencer marketing on the platform, reaching millions of potential customers. And, during the lockdown, with almost every individual having free time on their hands and getting to TikTok, more brands tend to follow suit.
While this platform, TikTok, took the world by storm, controversies emerged concerning its security and privacy when the app began to gain a lot of traction. More security concerns developed as the number of users continued to grow.
This prompted the US government to launch a national security probe into the ByteDance Company. The CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States), which probes possible security risks within deals by foreign acquirers at the national level, began the investigations into the deal of ByteDance and musical.ly.
After the CFIUS review, users started taking a closer look at the app. Later on, in April this year, a user on Reddit reverse-engineered the TikTok platform and established that there're several security threats such as intrusive tracking.
These investigations and communist China conspiracy building caught the US president's attention, Donald Trump, who signed an executive order to ban the app from the US. But if an American company acquired the app, it could be spared.
Tik Tok was fined $5.7 million in February by the FTC for personal data collection violations from kids under 13. This occurred inside the musical.ly platform, and after payment of the fine, they added online safety videos and filters for comments into the app.
Also, TikTok is known to have a youthful audience that has brought unwanted attention from sexual predators. This app captured many users from semi-urban and rural India, which is a population of almost a billion users using the internet for entertainment mostly. The app has been so influential in India that the Mandras high court decided to ban it, citing pornographic content as the main reason. The upcoming elections are also believed to be the cause due to the emerging heavy election influence by social media for the first time in India.
The future of TikTok will remain a mystery due to the multiple upcoming rivals such as Clash Video, Triller, Byte, and Instagram's new reels feature that are all here to stay. It will be quite interesting seeing all these platforms develop and compete for the great success that TikTok has experienced over time. Will there be an increase of influencers? Will we see new methods of advertisements by Brands on these platforms?
It's incredible how the competition might bring in innovation, which in turn benefits the brands' marketing and strategy efforts. Although these might be the final days of Tik Tok, it will always remain the platform that the entire world lives to remember. The impact and tension created by TikTok is an exception and has never been experienced with any other app such that it prompts us to be concerned about the power within these social apps. But only time will tell.