Regardless of if you’re 14-years-old or 40, you’ve likely heard of TikTok at least once. And no, we’re not talking about the Ke$ha song. In a world dominated by established social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, TikTok has managed to become the hottest social platform over the past year. Now everyone from YouTube to Jimmy Fallon and the NFL are partnering with the massive brand to big users content. Read on to discover the latest viral trend…
What Is TikTok?
Users usually compare TikTok to apps like Vine and Musical.ly, both of which shut down. In the app, users can record up to 15-second videos of them lip-syncing to any audio. While music started as the most popular audio of choice when TikTok started, users are now even making videos where they lip-sync famous scenes from film and television. It also includes fun filters, effects, and other features that can entertain viewers of any age.
A lot of songs went viral thanks to TikTok. Most notably, “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X. Initially viewed as a joke, due to its combination of rap and country, users on TikTok quickly started lip-syncing the song. Just a week after the song became a hit on TikTok, it rose to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
History Of The App
TikTok came online at the beginning of 2018. So how did it become such a big player in the social media world in such a short time? Well, Chinese company ByteDance purchased the previously lip-sync app Musical.ly in mid-2017, shutting it down by the end of the year. They then merged Musical.ly with work they had already completed on their own lip-sync app and TikTok was born! Since then, TikTok has gained 150 million monthly active users worldwide, excluding China. In their home country, ByteDance created a separate version of the app, Douyin, to obey Chinese censorship laws.
Meanwhile, ByteDance has become the most expensive private startup in the world, worth over $1 billion. The company now has offices all over the world, including Beijing, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, and Tokyo.
Zhang Yiming, the 35-year-old founder and CEO of ByteDance, is an incredible entrepreneur with an IT background. His previous works included the creation of a real estate search engine and technical troubleshooting. He admits that he only recently tried the app himself. “For a very long time, I was merely watching TikTok videos without making any of them myself, because it’s a product mainly for young people. But later on we made it compulsory for all management team members to make their own TikTok videos, and they must win a certain number of ‘likes.’ Otherwise, they have to do push-ups. It was a big step for me.”
How Does TikTok Make Money?
TikTok is free to use, so how does it make money? Three ways: ads, partnerships, and in-app purchases. Every time a user opens, they see splash ads, which can cost advertisers up to $150,000 a day! The company also partners with celebrities and brands, like Jimmy Fallon and the NFL. In fact, the NFL just signed a deal with TikTok to bring exclusive content only to the platform! In-app purchases are also becoming popular. You can buy amounts of “coins” for anywhere from $0.99 to $99.99. Then, users use these coins to donate to their favorite creators. Sensor Tower reported that users spent $80 million on coins in the app around the world in the first half of 2019.
Of course, content creators are not left in the dark. Creators earn thanks to brands, too, by promoting food and drinks like Coca-Cola and Dunkin Donuts. “All the creators on the app have very loyal fans. If they say, ‘Hey, guys, I’m partnering with Burger King, everyone go to Burger King and buy a burger,’ they will go to Burger King and buy a burger because they trust the influencers on TikTok and they’re loyal to them,” stated Drea Knows Best, one of the influencers from the platform.