What has TikTok done to become a widely popular app?

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If you haven’t heard of TikTok, you must be living under some sort of digitally-blocked rock. TikTok is one of the most popular and fastest-growing social media sites out there; its popularity has overtaken Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat, and it’s become a platform with over 500 million active users. With all this popularity growing, you may be tempted to ask yourself the following question: what exactly has TikTok done to become so popular? How has it achieved this level of fame?

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What happened to make this seemingly low-key short video-based platform so popular for influencers and so in-demand for content creators? We’re going to take a look at some of the things TikTok has done in order to cement its place as one of the most widely-used social media apps out there. Before we do, though, if you’re a social media influencer, this is definitely a platform you want to get involved with. You can even find out how to get some free headway on TikTok. Without further ado, here we go!

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In terms of user demographics, TikTok has pitched itself perfectly. It’s aimed squarely at the 16-24 demographic. According to Statista, around 96% of people in the UK aged in this demographic own a smartphone. That means TikTok’s potential audience is the vast majority of that demographic. This is smart business savvy on TikTok’s part; by aiming for wide adoption rates, the app can maximize its reach and make itself available on everyone’s phone.


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TikTok wasn’t actually available in the west until 2017 when it was released by the parent company, ByteDance to Android and iOS devices. There was an app in the west called Musical.ly, which was proving to be reasonably popular but still didn’t enjoy the kind of global reach TikTok would go on to have. By rebranding Musical.ly to TikTok after ByteDance bought the former, the company ensured a much stronger brand for its future business endeavors outside of China.

Video length

TikTok only allows videos of up to sixty seconds in length. That’s pretty long compared to some of TikTok’s historical competitors or predecessors (more on which later), but it’s very short in the grand scheme of things. However, this video length actually plays into the app’s favor; by restricting videos to short bursts, they can create organic viral content that doesn’t take too long to watch and therefore captures even shorter attention spans. It’s good marketing savvy. Speaking of which…


We don’t know if you saw, but TikTok made itself pretty much ubiquitous in the months leading up to (and just after) its launch. It wasn’t possible to visit a social media site, video platform, or pretty much any other site without seeing ads for TikTok if you happened to find yourself in its target demographic. While the ads did become a little annoying after a while, there’s no denying that TikTok reached its intended audience. Thanks to this aggressive campaign.


Back in October 2016, the short-form video platform, Vine announced that it would shut down. Widespread outrage and mourning followed; Vine was an incredibly popular platform on which many content creators made their home. Fast-forward a couple of years, and TikTok hits the scene offering similar functionality, but with more funding behind it and a more friendly attitude towards viral content. Naturally, it’s going to fill the niche Vine left behind. This was very clever on TikTok’s popularity part.


TikTok is available on a wide variety of devices; it’s got both an Android and iOS app, so no matter which device you happen to be using, you can grab the app. It’s also incredibly easy to use, taking mere seconds to set up and offering the chance to get right into making videos and showing them off to your friends. Everything about TikTok is designed to appeal to everyone, which is why the app has enjoyed such mass-market appeal since its release.


The slogan for TikTok is “Make Your Day”. There are two levels on which to take this; it’s an invitation to improve the day you’re currently having as well as a call to action for creating something out of your day. There’s no doubt that TikTok’s slogan has had an impact on its popularity, and its strong branding is completed by this brief, well-thought-out phrase. TikTok nails its target demographic here without stooping to outdated slang.


While it’s definitely true that TikTok pitches itself at one demographic, it’s a very inclusive app. Young people of all racial backgrounds, gender identities, and content fields are encouraged to come to hang out on TikTok and generate content for the app. There’s no bias towards a certain group, so everyone feels right at home; you could say that ByteDance has successfully created a TikTok community into which everyone slots pretty much perfectly.


This is a very specific but incredibly important type of TikTok content. If you’ve never seen a TikTok challenge before, you should check them out. They’re essentially short videos in which users undertake tasks set for them by other users, influencers, or major celebrities. TikTok challenges are massively popular because they encourage user participation and allow everyone to come together within the TikTok community. Some of the challenges are a touch worrying, but there’s no doubt they’re here to stay.     

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