Tik Tok app: What is TikTok and who uses it?

If you still haven’t heard of the Tik Tok app, then you’ve got to be living under a rock! The short-video social media platform has become a viral phenomenon over the last year, especially amongst young people. With a whopping 800 million+ global downloads, it has surpassed all other major social media apps.

What it is:

TikTok is a social media app that focuses solely on short snappy videos. Developed in China back in 2016, TikTok is ultimately used for sharing short videos. Lip-syncing and dancing videos are the most popular formats on the platform. These videos are mostly 15-seconds long, but if you’re after something with a little more substance, you can string clips together to make stories that are up to 60 seconds long. According to TikTok.com, the platform is the “world’s leading destination for short-form mobile videos.”

So what’s so special about it:

TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps on the planet. The short-video platform now more popular in app stores than Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. For a bit of context, it took Instagram six years from its launch to gain the same amount of monthly active users that TikTok managed to achieve in under three years. And for Facebook to hit the same monthly active users mark, it took over four years – so in other words TikTok is a pretty big deal in the world of social media.

History of TikTok:

Tiktok has a somewhat complicated history.

  • We can thank the birth and worldwide success of TikTok to its creator: a Chinese Internet technology company called ByteDance.
  • Musical.ly was developed in 2014 in Shanghai, by long-time friends Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang. It was a generation-Z-heavy social media platform that enabled users to create lip-synching videos.
  • ByteDance bought Musical.ly Inc in 2017 and combined the two apps into a single app named TikTok in 2018.
  • Meanwhile in China, TikTok has a sister app called Douyin – which was previously launched by ByteDance for the China market in September 2016. The two apps run on different servers to comply with Chinese censorship restrictions.

Is TikTok and Douyin the same thing?

While at first glance you may think that TikTok and Douyin are the same thing, (partly due to the fact they have the exact same logos) they are in fact two completely separate entities. although Tiktok and Douyin have the same functions, layout, and logos, the users for both platforms are kept completely separate and are not able to interact with one another.

Is TikTok the new Vine?

TikTok is the ultimate successor to Vine, the birthplace of influencers such as Holly H, who is currently followed by more than 15.9 million people, and Vicky Banham who has 1.3 million followers. These guys are among the UK’s top influencers on TikTok and somewhat predictably began their journey to superstardom on Vine, before moving to Musical.ly and then TikTok.

Many of the features of TikTok are similar to that of Vine, such as being a short-form video app that was heavily dominated by content of comedy sketches, popular dances, music shorts and lip syncing. However since TikTok has with Musical.ly the videos can now be longer and users are able to use a wide variety of in-app editing tools, allowing for effects, filters and the ability to sync your videos to virtually any audio clip out there, in a much more advanced way than Vine ever allowed.

What can you actually do on TikTok?

  • You can watch and create videos, all of which will auto-play in your feed.
  • Users can create collaboration videos by replying to someone’s post or by uploading videos of themselves involved in challenges and memes.
  • Thanks to it’s Musical.ly roots and a more recent integration with Apple Music, TikTok has an extensive music library, free to use with any user generated video. .
  • Video editing allows users to apply visual filters that can be added either before or after recording. These include face filters, such as face-aging or beauty-enhancing filters, background filters and even interactive animations.
  • Other video editing options include, split screens, transitions, stickers, GIFs, emojis, and loads of other effects.
  • TikTok is friendly community where users can interact with one another. Each user is able to follow accounts, comment, give hearts and share videos.
  • The app also uses hashtags for visibility and content collation.
  • People have commonly edited together ‘best-of’ compilation videos and share them on other social media platforms – giving TikTok a unique cut-through to users beyond its own platform.
  • TikTok are monetizing the platform by allowing in-app purchases of ‘coins’ which can then be used to buy Emojis to gift to others in appreciation of their work or to say thank you.

TikTok and the music industry:

TikTok has a particular affinity with the music industry, able to surf daily trends in music, not only making it more attractive to users that are into the latest tracks but also making it useful for artists to help broaden their listener base.

The Lil Nas X song”Old Town Road” is a perfect example of this and can even go as far as to thank TikTok for its massive viral success. Lil Nas X uploaded the song to TikTok himself. While there are hundreds of thousands of videos using “Old Town Road” on TikTok, the song’s initial boost came from a popular meme where users can be seen drinking “yee yee juice,” which then transforms them into a cowboy. According to TikTok itself, Lil Nas X’s success shows exactly how talented artists can grow a fanbase and promote their music.

Jay Sean has recently even re-entered the UK charts thanks to exposure via TikTok. Sean’s hit song ‘Ride It’ was first released in 2008, but Kosovo-based ‘DJ Regard’ has given the song a new lease of life with a 20-second remix. Since DJ Regard’s version of Ride It was uploaded there have been more than 4.1 million videos created by users, using the song as a backing track. The exposure of Ride It was further helped by the apps #rideit challenge – where TikTok users uploaded videos of themselves dancing to the song.

Brands on TikTok

Formula E and Rugby World Cup are the latest UK sports brands to get on board. Prior to these, tennis championship, Wimbledon and Premier League football team, Liverpool, joined the platform to capture fans’ attention through their entertaining videos. With sports being a popular and beloved category on TikTok, it makes sense that sports’ brands are keen to use the platform to attract a younger audience.

UK media brands are also getting in on the act, including Kiss Radio, LadBible, PopBuzz, Daily Mirror, Capital FM, Buzzfeed, Hello Magazine, Wales Online, the Sole Trader and more. There’s a wide variety of TikTok content coming from these UK media brands, from the fails and memes shared by LadBible to the royal and celebrity news-bite videos shared by Hello Magazine. With these significant brand partnerships in mind, it’s safe to say we can expect to see TikTok continue to grow in the UK. 

A number of significant American brands also use TikTok, most notably NFL have partnered with TikTok in multi-year partnership in 2019. TikTok celebrated the kick-off of NFL’s 100th season by allowing attendees to create their own unique TikTok videos showing their love for their favourite teams and players in an NFL-themed experience.

TikTok Summary:

  • In October 2018, TikTok had 500 million monthly users (SCMP, 2018).
  • When it merged with Musical.ly in August 2018, Musical.ly alone had over 100 million monthly active users.
  • TikTok was downloaded 68 million times in October 2018, making it the world’s third most downloaded application. (Business of Apps, 2019).
  • The app is now available in 150 global markets (Business of Apps, 2019).
  • TikTok is available in 75 different languages (Influencer Marketing Hub, 2019).
  • 60% of TikTok’s monthly app users are 16-24 years old (Mediakix, 2019).
  • 66% of all TikTok users are under the age of 30 (Mediakix, 2019).
  • In China, the Douyin app reports an average of 400 million monthly active users, 50% of which use the app daily.  (Technode, 2018)

Here are some of our favourites:

The happiest goat we’ve ever seen #lifegoals

A little cheeky humour from Wimbledon:

Classic LadBible

The #rideit challenge

TikTok users – Top 10 countries across the world

Despite being relatively new to the British market, the TikTok app is fast growing in the UK with 3.7 million users [as of April 2019].

Here’s how other countries stack up when it comes to number of users [as of February 2019]:


The Social Media Marketer

The Social Media Marketer is a marketing blog for social media professionals and the marketing industry, covering a range of social media and marketing topics. In addition to the latest news updates, The Social Media Marketer offers tips and tricks relating to social media marketing, advertising and content as well as a more in depth look at industry issues and developments.


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