Why is TikTok so popular?
June 17 2020 - Loren Gray, Zach King, Nisha Gurugain, Arishfa Khan, Riyaz Aly, Awez Darbar. Kids from all over the world with one similarity between all of them - TikTok!
YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were already in business when buzz of a new social media app was created. TikTok, when it started under the name Douyin in China in the year 2016 launched by ByteDance. A merger with US's Musical.ly became what we know today as TikTok.
Cut to 2020, TikTok has a whopping 800 million users and 1.5 billion downloads and among social apps like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, TikTok is the most downloaded app. To add to the amazement, India leads TikTok usage and downloads, followed by China, US. They are completely aware of the fact that they are famous in South Asia and have explored promotional and business opportunities most favourable to their market. But. more on that later.
So what does make TikTok any different from any of the already existing social media apps?
TikTok is a platform where users share 5-60 second videos which can either be shared or created on the app. The essence of the app is videos. The video feature on any app was already a proven success and as per the creators, their mission is, "to capture and present the world�s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments, directly from the mobile phone. TikTok enables everyone to be a creator, and encourages users to share their passion and creative expression through their videos.� This clearly explains the key points on why users prefer TikTok - the simplicity of the app, focus on 'creativity' rather than lifestyle inspiration, and videos being the simplest and most alluring way to express said creativity.
A video feature is always the most attractive feature on a social media platform and videos on TikTok are organic, homemade (so to speak) and short. The attention span of a viewer lasts a few minutes, if not seconds and conveying an impactful message is enough to last a short impression. The likes and follower algorithm is elementary but crucial to the fame of the "influencer". While Instagram focuses on all these to establish the acclaim of a user, TikTok does not delay the popularity of a viral video at all. As Mark Zuckerberg rightly pointed out that TikTok �married short-form, immersive video with browse. So it�s almost like the �Explore Tab� that we have on Instagram, which is today primarily about feed posts and highlighting different feed posts.� The AI does take time to learn of your preferences obviously, but it isn't too difficult to get on there.
The brilliance and simplicity of the platform also lies in the emphasis on content, not socializing per se. It all started with "real people" making "real videos" as opposed to only influencers and celebrities being privileged enough to post Instagrammable content. The USP for the videos on TikTok is that they are too much to look away from! The quick skip to another video keeps one hooked and are easy to navigate through. This, besides the features, filters and editing options the app has for their users.
Creativity does not cease when it comes to over-the-top acting, mimicry, meme videos, voiceovers, reactions. Speaking of which, India's usage on the Instagram market began as a reaction to the influence Bollywood has on the world. Dialogues, songs, dance performances, duets, performances on the vertically-viewing app have been filled with dramatics and emotions. They may be cringey, sure. but those movie stars are now joining the app and collaborating with TikTokers as we speak. Deepika Padukone, Sanaa Khan, Ranveer Singh, Urvashi Rautela, Salman Khan, Shilpa Shetty etc. are collaborating with and jumping on the TikTok bandwagon.
TikTok Challenges, Hashtag Challenges, Trends, Native videos and a plethora of options that make joining the app movement easier. Song releases and promotions are a major hit with the users. "Old Town Road" Lil Nas X and Arijit Singh's "Pachtaoge" saw a major hike in their popularity and downloads as they were used by TikTokers as background score. Songs are even released on the app for the users to follow and mimic and recreate, like Pepsi's #SwagStepUpChallenge, or even #CricketWorldCup among so many, are a source of increasing popularity for brands and companies in India for them to connect with the users and potential shoppers via their go-to-links and shopping tags. This provides the brands, companies, artists, and celebrities to directly connect with their customers.
Sumedhas Rajgopal, Entertainment Strategy and Partnerships lead of TikTok (India) was diagnostic of the way the app has taken off in India and how more to customise and approach contingency plans that work for the visibility of a TikToker and that of the brand as well. Brand promotions and recommendations work well for those who wish to stay updated and informed about the various channels of pushing their product/service. The demographics of TikTokers, that are mostly between the ages of 16-24, are easily influenced and allured into shopping into trends and hence, building a stronger monetization option will work for the app tremendously.
In conclusion, the stardom, success and fame of social media influencers seems to be a steady trend in the past decade and an app such as TikTok or Instagram, or Snapchat may come and go but creativity and the ability to go viral may be like surfing the tide with updates and innovative apps and features that just might click.