What is Tiktok ? Bigger than Instagram - real numbers exposed

Saturday, March 14, 2020
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It’s all too easy for people and businesses to get complacent and think the status quo will remain the same. However for the people who pay close attention, there is a lot that’s changing in the landscape of social media. One of the biggest of these is the emergence of TikTok in recent years.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video app that a person can use to make short clips that are 15 seconds long. Sometimes it is pigeon-holed as a lip-syncing app, although there is much more diversity to it than this. People using the app can also act out memes and put them to music and other sounds.

Originally, the app was called Musical.ly. In November 2017 it was bought by the Beijing based company ByteDance and rebranded to TikTok. Part of its main appeal is that it's an app for the younger generations and teenagers that so far hasn’t been fully commodified like other social media have. Although it does have small celebrities that have emerged from it, the app isn’t over run with them like on YouTube and Instagram.

How big is TikTok?

The interface of TikTok makes video editing extremely simple. So much so that millions of its users are capable of doing it. These users are based all over the world, not just in Western markets. China and India also have a large amount of users, meaning that TikTok was the 4th most downloaded app in the world in 2018, across all platforms.

At certain times it has out performed Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube in downloads. This means it is a serious contender if it can take on these internet giants. TikTok’s closest competitor is instagram, which in 2019 it managed to beat by around 238 million downloads. While this doesn’t mean that TikTok is bigger than instagram, it certainly shows it is growing faster.

To go into more detail about it’s growth, across the App Store and Google Play it reached 1.5 billion total downloads last year. Year on Year from 2018 to 2019, 31% of the apps downloads came from India, 11.5% from China and 8.2% from the US.

It is not by chance that the app is becoming so huge. While the content and the online community certainly are driving factors, a part of its growth was from ad spend. With these new users, revenue is starting to seriously move through the app. Across the world, $6 million was spent on tipping people doing live streams in 2018. This is not the primary source of income for the platform though.

As with all others that have gone before it, TikTok is beginning to be seriously noticed by brands and marketers. TikTok doesn’t have space for ‘traditional’ ads, however these have been tested. As a marketing channel there is opportunity for brands to create TikTok challenges and contests, which gets users generating content that markets the brand. As with Instagram and Youtube, TikTok celebrities and influencers create opportunities for brands to collaborate and reach new audiences.

How Safe is TikTok?

Unfortunately, like every social network on the internet, there have been times where adults have inappropriately contacted children. TikTok has countered these measures with the standard privacy settings you see across other platforms. You can make an account private, remove the option for commenting, not let an account appear in searches, not allow downloads, and stop the account from receiving messages.

Alongside this, there have been reports of other dark content making it onto the site, alongside instances of self harm and teens bullying each other. It is tough to determine if TikTok’s troubles with this is worse than the other social networks online.

Since the 2017 acquisition, TikTok has grown hugely to become a big player in the social media sector. By gaining access to emerging markets such as India and China, it has amassed a large user base in the younger generation. If it can avoid the dangers that other social media giants face around internet security, safety, and privacy, as it scales the app looks to only get much bigger moving into the future.