Mr. Mrityunjay Ojha
5 Mins to Read
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Case Study: Story of TikTok and The New Age of Social Media
In the era of social media, it would take living under a rock not to be aware of or at least heard of the channels that today’s youth and hundreds of successful influencers use.
Everyone knows about Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, but what about TikTok?
This short video-sharing app has become one of the most downloaded mobile applications. It has more than 500 million users worldwide.
It is common for a new social media platform to get popular when it comes out, rise to the top, and disappear after a while. But TikTok’s influence must be addressed as it is clear that the app is here to stay.
Understanding the Story of TikTok
To put it simply, TikTok is a video-sharing social media platform used to create and share short videos. TikTok was initially launched as Douyin in China in 2016. In 2017, the app was launched for markets outside China. Douyin and TikTok both use the same software. However, both maintain separate networks for Douyin to comply with the Chinese censorship restrictions.
Earlier, TikTok videos could not be longer than 15 seconds. But TikTok gradually increased the length of the videos over the years. The limit got extended to one minute and then three minutes eventually. Now, the platform enables its users to increase the length of a video to up to ten minutes! And, of course, videos can still be shortened to make 15-second clips.
Users can add specific elements to their videos, such as special effects and music.
The app consists of all things that internet users love; easy, quick entertainment with instant gratification. TikTok is right up Gen Z’s alley.
Story of TikTok
In 2017, ByteDance, known for owning well-known news websites and other video hosting services like BuzzVideo, purchased the popular mobile app called Musical.ly. The Musical.ly app was purchased by 39-year-old entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, owner of ByteDance, in 2017 for over $1 billion. Zhang used the app’s code as the basis for TikTok, which debuted in August 2016.
The merger resulted in TikTok gaining smooth access to target the US teen market that was previously controlled by Musical.ly.
The app is currently one of the most used platforms among Millennials and Generation Z users, ranging between 16 to 30 years of age.
Success Story of TikTok: YouTube Built for Mobile
Success Story of TikTok is hard to argue with. The social media platform had over 1.2 billion MAUs (Monthly Active Users) in the fourth quarter of 2021 and over 1.5 Billion MAUs (Monthly Active Users) in the third quarter of 2022. The app’s total number of downloads in 2022 reached 1 Billion and 1.5 Billion on the Google Play Store and App Store, respectively.
The “For You Page,” a video-first interface that fills the entire screen and starts playing right away to draw people into the program, is the main draw of TikTok. Since shadow profiles are created based on device ID, there is a one-screen onboarding process when the application is first used. A large number of people don’t truly have accounts. Every video loops by default, and users can swipe up and down to move through the never-ending list of video content sideways to enter a creator’s profile for more content or press one of the numerous tiny buttons scattered around the perimeter of the screen.
The content on TikTok is relatively brief—it used to be 15 seconds, but now it may last up to 10 minutes. Since short videos are by nature mobile-optimized, they naturally have a very different product DNA than long videos.
The friction of both creation and consumption is decreased with short content. Most TikTok videos are created by the creator alone, and many upload several videos daily. 34% of US consumers shoot content every day, according to a ByteDance advertisement deck from 2018. On other platforms, longer material is often not produced or edited on mobile, and the creators frequently work with teams.
From a consumption standpoint, a user is less committed to opening the app repeatedly if the app just offers small pieces of material. Every dopamine impact occurs quickly, and many TikTok’s climaxes at the very end (the algorithm favors watch length). All videos replay by default, often leading to multiple re-watches (which also has a heavy weighting in the algorithm). As a result, each user’s algorithm gets trained extremely fast.
For instance, in the time it takes to watch a 10-minute YouTube video, TikTok can capture data from 40 15-second videos. Training users to actively sit through full videos (that play with sound by default) makes them more receptive to ads. TikTok’s bite-sized content offers frequent, organic ad breaks as its US advertising business ramps up.
In less than six years, TikTok has become one of the most culturally significant products in the world. In a nutshell, TikTok is entertaining, fun, and addictive and has seen a massive surge in popularity in the last few years. TikTok evidently has the potential to become the most prominent marketing and social media platform.