We all love making videos of our travels or other charitable moments in our lives and, thanks to social media, the task of making videos is becoming easier day by day. Today we’re going to explore how the Chinese video making app TikTok created a global wave of 15 seconds of fame. So let’s dive in.
If you’re unsure what TikTok is, don’t worry, we got you covered. TikTok is a video-based social media app that’s owned by the Chinese startup ByteDance.
ByteDance is headed by CEO Zhang Yiming and is currently valued at $75 billion, and the startup is famous for many apps that promote viable content on the go.
Apart from TikTok, it also owns Toutiao, a news and information-based app, which is currently the number one content aggregation and distribution site in the world. Toutiao was famous for its machine learning techniques that helped the app to deliver tailored feeds to each of its users. Now, if you’re wondering why we’re talking so much about Toutiao interestingly enough, the machine learning techniques used by Toutiao have also been applied to TikTok, so let’s take a closer look at how TikTok was created.
In 2014, ByteDance launched an app called Musically, which was a social media platform to share lip — sync videos. This app gained significant success, and It was transformed into TikTok in September 2016. While musically was only limited to lip-sync videos, TikTok gives users the freedom to make all sorts of videos in a timeframe of 15 seconds using various filters, popular music tracks, and numerous visual effects.
The app also uses algorithms to prompt users about the videos made by friends and other popular videos in their region or even internationally, making TikTok both easy to use not only for making videos but also to consume them. The apps main targeted user base is below 24 years of age and currently has 500 million active users.
Right now, it’s the 9th largest social media platform across the globe. In China, TikTok is called Douyin and has 150 million active users, making it the most popular social media platform in the country amongst teenagers. Within such a short period, TikTok has managed to achieve some massive success worldwide. So let’s now try to understand the secrets behind the rise of this app.
As mentioned earlier, one of the critical features of TikTok is its machine learning technique. The TikTok algorithm works very differently than any other social media apps. While most popular social media apps like Facebook and Instagram show users the content made by their friends on the app. TikTok pinpoints at a range of diverse videos, which are viral then and is customized based on every user’s trend to consume content, which means that the more you use the app, the more targeted the content is you consume. When a user opens TikTok, it gives them a feeling of almost anything and everything can pop up, from lip sync videos to dance routines going viral, and it feeds you ideas to post videos of your own TikTok.
It’s also introduced many challenges backed by celebrities to keep content fresh and trending. For example, the famous English singer Ed Sheeran started a TikTok challenge called hashtag Beautiful People, which requested users to upload a video featuring his song Beautiful People
The challenge went viral, racing to 335 million views along with 150,000 video uploads.
Now back to TikTok, one could think the lack of Facebook in China is what’s benefiting TikTok to gain popularity in the country within just two years. But with its unique algorithm and marketing philosophy, TikTok is game to succeed even at an international level. There are currently 20 million active TikTok users in India, but 42% of the annual revenue of the app comes from the USA.
There are numerous teams worldwide who have capitalized on early entry to TikTok and have created follower basis of millions of people for their unique style of videos. For example, Wilking sisters is a widespread TikTok handle of two sisters who keep their large follower base hooked with their inventive choreography that merges their unique dancing styles with special effects offered by the app.
And there are more than 30 such TikTokers who have over 10 million followers glued to their TikTok feed. So there’s no doubt this app has changed the way we consume video content globally. Although the app looks quite promising, it doesn’t currently have any backing from homegrown internet giants like Alibaba. Still, it does have $3 billion support from SoftBank and the American investment firm at KKR.
It’s 2019 revenue target is $17 billion. But with such massive goals to achieve, let’s try to understand how TikTok is planning to stay atop video-based social media even in the future.
With a quick expansion and international user base, TikTok has successfully tripled its revenue in the past year, but currently it’s struggling to help its users to monetize their content, unlike YouTube TikTok users don’t get paid on the number of views they receive for their creations. Also, the short duration of the videos makes it challenging to incorporate ads or monetize content created by users. TikTok also doesn’t help its users in brand collaborations, so the users have to take efforts to monetize their videos even though they have a large follower base.
To overcome this hurdle, TikTok has introduced a live stream feature, which helps users to monetize their content. If the number of live streamers continues to rise, it could become a potential challenge to YouTube in the future.
As TikTok is targeting mainly teenagers who are considered to be minors from a legal perspective, the app has faced many lawsuits across the world for inappropriate content published by some of its users and the data privacy concerns raised by the app.
In February 2019. TikTok paid $5.7 million to settle allegations that it had illegally collected private data from minors under the age of 13. Interestingly, it was the highest fine paid by an enterprise for a child’s privacy.
TikTok also had to face a temporary ban in India this year, since the government found that some videos were encouraging sexual predators and pornography. The app then decided to remove 6 million videos made by Indian users, which were against the community guidelines until the ban was lifted, the company was losing around $500,000 daily and revenues. TikTok is definitely not the first social media app to run into legal scandals, but such repetitive backlashes can potentially threaten its growth and existence across different geographies.
Just like any other photo or video app-based social media platform, TikTok offers an excellent opportunity for its users to showcase their creativity and also monetize it. But it’s ultimately the responsibility of its users and their guardians to ensure their data privacy and time are not put to risk in the race of going viral.
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