In the last couple of years, the world has observed the upheaval and downfall of many social media apps. While some of them came and conquered with a decent rise in their user base, others were done and dusted even before they gained widespread notoriety.
There is one app that broke all the rules and yet still ended up on top… figuratively. If your guess was TikTok, then you’d be right. Douyin, or more commonly known as TikTok outside the Chinese market, has observed a sharp rise from the moment it was released, both in China and the global market. TikTok hasn’t seen any severe decline in its growth over the past year.
Writing the Fairytale
ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech company, developed an app called Douyin in 2016. Douyin was initially released in the Chinese Market with no desire to expand further for the foreseeable future. The purpose of the app was to create a social platform where users could share snippets of lip-syncing, dancing, and other videos depicting their talent. It took 200 days for the developers to build the app. In just one year of release, Douyin increased its user base to 100 million. But the owner of ByteDance, Zhang Yiming, was yet to be impressed with the number. He decided to go global, with this relatively newfound success, which was possibly the decision that changed the fortune of the company and affected the app we know too well today.
The breakthrough for the company came in September 2017 when they went global by launching TikTok outside of China for iOS and Android platforms. Both Douyin and TikTok promoted similar features, yet ran on different servers because of the Censorship Policies the Chinese government had. In just four months, TikTok has seen rapid success by ranking No. 1 on both Google Play and the Apple Store in a short amount of time.
As for the US market, the app had a competitor named Musical.ly, which prompted similar features. Musical.ly had a predominantly teenage user base. In late 2017, ByteDance bought Musical.ly for $1 billion. They merged both ByteDance and Musical.ly in 2018 and launched the expanded platform globally, calling it TikTok. Later, all the user accounts and data retrieved from Musical.ly were transferred to the newly created platform, TikTok, to avoid any loss of their user base. According to the data found, the app was downloaded a total of 880 million times worldwide by 2018 (excluding China). Since it’s release, TikTok has only gained popularity.
Being a short video-oriented social media platform, TikTok also managed to connect people socially through its integrated features. TikTok allows users to record short videos, where they can add music in the background from a wide range of featured music. Users can also add their soundtracks in addition to filters and speed adjustments, where they are capable of adjusting the playback speed of the video. Lip-syncing to popular songs is another significant feature of TikTok, along with the duet feature. This feature allows users to combine two screens side by side and perform the same thing on separate devices. Like any other social media platform, users can follow other users, react to videos, and search for content. Friends are able to stay connected with the use of the messaging feature. The ‘For You’ feature of this app suggests videos to users based on their interests, location, and search history.
Viral Trends and Rise of the Stars
TikTok has been the talk of the town over the past couple of years, since its release in the global market. The platform has attracted many celebrities because of its ability to make trends viral. People have also gained recognition through this platform. Old Town Road, a popular song by Lil Nas X, was a product of this platform. TikTok helped the artist gain popularity and recognition for his song, which ended up on the Billboard Hot 100. Some other songs that went viral through this app are Roxanne, Play Date, Savage, and Say So. Notable stars who got their popularity from TikTok include, Baby Ariel, Loren Gray, Kristen Hancher, and Jacob Sartorius. The app even managed to attract celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Jessica Alba, Will Smith, and Justin Bieber.