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What is TikTok?

Find Out More About the Record-breaking Social Media App. It all started with Musical.ly, an app that provided its users with thousands of music and talking clips they could lip-sync to. At its peak, it had over 100 million users from all over the world.

The 15-second videos from Musical.ly were widely shared on other social media, which raised the interest in the app and its users as well. 

However, the app was then taken over by ByteDance (a Chinese technology company) in August 2018 and transformed into TikTok along with all the content and users. 

TikTok is a platform designed for sharing short videos (from a few seconds up to a minute long). While TikTok is used worldwide by over a billion people, there is a separate twin app for Chinese users called Duyin, which has around 300 million monthly users. 

From Musical.ly to TikTok

While TikTok is a child of Musical.ly and is pretty similar to the original app, it offers a broader variety of content, because it does not limit creators to lip-syncing. 

TikTok enables content creation with the help of dozens of music snippets and sound effects, as well as video effects and filters. Apart from that, you can just upload a pre-recorded video. 

Additional features released last year include “reactions”,  videos you can link to other videos when posting, and the well-being feature, which has the app notifying you whenever you spend over 2 hours on the app. 

The app is advertised as a video-centered social media platform. While Musical.ly was limited to lip-syncing clips, TikTok gives more freedom to the creators allowing them to post anything they want from DIY hacks and magic tricks to silly challenges and dancing. 

What is TikTok?

The Rise to the Top

Ever since TikTok was created, its global popularity has been increasing insanely fast. In 2018 already it was the most-downloaded app from its segment. Now, it has over 500 million active monthly users and over 80 million downloads in the US. 

The reasons for such tremendous appeal include, but are not limited to, the following: 

Celebrity Collaborations

Celebrities are often responsible for a rise of interest in a certain product, whether it’s a clothes brand, type of tea, or an app. Like any other smart marketing campaign, TikTok’s includes sponsored partnerships with all types of celebrities.

One of them is Jimmy Fallon, who showed genuine interest in the app, which then led to a collaboration. A new segment of his show was based on him showing the audience TikToks with challenges from the show. 

He encouraged the audience to participate in the challenges and post it on the app. Jimmy, of course, was the first to complete the challenges in order to attract more people. 

One of his challenges was completed by over 8 000 people and got more than 10 million engagements. 

While the USA is a huge part of the app’s market, TikTok works hard on attracting users from all over the globe. It established partnerships with the biggest Thai and Indian influencers and Japanese stars, like Watanabe Naomi and Kinoshita Yukina. 

Celebrities play an important role in TikTok’s globalization, given that their content always goes viral and attracts huge audiences ー this works well with having them use the app or promote it on other social media. 

Localized Content

What makes TikTok so attractive is its attention to the various audiences it has. While being widely popular on a global scale, the app remains focused on local trends. This can be noticed in how often the app starts local challenges and hashtags smartly tied to local trends. They sometimes run the same contest separately across a number of countries. Users are informed on the topics or styles the videos should have and are awarded if their videos appear at the top.

This not only drives content but attracts new users as well. For example, one of such challenges held in Russia ended up in over 30 000 videos and millions of views. This naturally led to the rise of the popularity of the app in the country. 

Trends and viral hashtags are also offered to the content creators as suggestions for new ideas for the videos. This way the app pushes its users to create more viral content and boost the views. One of the examples is the Chinese “seaweed dance” challenge, which counts dozens of thousands of videos. While paying a lot of attention to the local trends, the app also makes sure to show creators personalized recommendations, which creates a never-ending flow of inspiration for new content. 

Global localization is the key to TikTok’s success. 


One of the key factors of its success is how easy the app is to use. You can record and edit the video right in the app and post it right away. It has never been easier to create and share content. 

Not only is it easy to create the videos, it is easy to watch them as well. You are already watching a video, once you open the app, and then another one, and another one, and another one. It is pretty hard to resist and close the app. 

Can Brands Profit from TikTok?

If you opened TikTok at least once, you know that with the full-screen videos there is no space for the ads. Nevertheless, the levels of its popularity have many brands trying to find a way to use the app as a marketing channel. 

At the moment, brands mostly use challenges and hashtags to encourage users to create brand-related content as a part of their marketing campaigns. 

A good example would be the #InMyDenim challenge launched by Guess. The brand’s account posted the first video urging all the US users to use the hashtag to share videos of them wearing anything denim. Taking place in September 2019, this was the start of TikTok’s  US brand collaborations. 

Apart from hashtags, brands can also use the well-known strategy of having influencers post brand-related content. It is worth noting that there is an opportunity to become popular easier, for this you can get free TikTok followers for your account from the provider freetiktok.com.

What’s Next for TikTok? 

TikTok’s current stats are amazing, to say the least. However, it is still quite difficult to say what outcome we should expect. Over the years, there have been dozens of social media apps that managed to become extremely popular, but we don’t remember half of them now. 

A few things are clear: TikTok has to make room for advertisement and keep coming up with ways to engage the users. These are the key factors for ensuring the stability of the app’s success in the future. 

Even now, a lot of brands are considering using TikTok as a part of their marketing campaign. If they are able to come up with a way to monetize these partnerships, they will be able to compete with other established social media, like Instagram and YouTube. 


TikTok is a fun and addictive app that has been riding its high for a long time now. It has all the potential to become the next big thing, we just have to wait and see how it is going to be monetized and if it will be able to maintain its level of popularity.