You’ve heard it for the last couple of years – TikTok is the future.
TikTok has now rushed past its competitors as the fastest app to hit one billion active users in just a little over five years. The last app to hit one billion users in record time was WhatsApp in 2016, just 6.2 years after its launch.
So what is driving one billion active users to download TikTok?
The algorithm shows you what you want to see.
The for you page (FYP) on TikTok is generated in a number of different ways. According to the company’s website, “user interactions such as videos you like or share, accounts you follow, comments you post, and content you create. Video information, which might include details like captions, sounds, and hashtags. Device and account settings like your language preference, country setting, and device type. These factors are included to make sure the system is optimised for performance, but they receive lower weight in the recommendation system relative to other data points we measure since users don’t actively express these as preferences.”
By doing something as simple as liking another TikTok or commenting on a friend’s post, you are telling the algorithm what you want to see more of. No one FYP is the same because it is tailored just for you, driving people to choose TikTok over other social media platforms.
The app is appealing to a short attention span.
Arguably one of the most famous aspects of TikTok is how short the videos are. When the app was first getting its start, the videos were capped at 15 seconds. Now, there is an option for TikToks to be as long as 10 minutes, however, the average video length is still around 10 to 15 seconds.
Unlike a sitcom or a television show, the story arc of a TikTok is instantaneous, providing constant entertainment for those that are looking for it and again driving so many active users to the platform – even if it is just for five minutes during a lunch break.
Fame is at your fingertips.
You don’t need to have millions of followers on TikTok in order for one of your videos to start trending on TikTok and for you to be “discovered.” In December, The New Yorker wrote an article entitled “So You Want to be a TikTok Star,” explaining one nineteen-year-old’s journey to fame after her videos began trending, in large thanks to the algorithm. With an app like TikTok so accessible to everyone, someone strumming on their guitar in their bedroom has the possibility of being discovered. Some record labels have begun looking for new talent via TikTok and, according to the article, more than 70 artists who got their start on TikTok signed with record labels in 2020.
[Image Creds: The New Yorker]
TikTok’s constant trends have also helped promote new songs, such as “About Damn Time” by Lizzo, while also bringing back old songs, such as Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head On My Shoulder.” Seeing people dancing on the street or the tube to the newest TikTok trend will have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day, encouraging you to go and stream the song yourself or join in on the trend on the app. People tune into the app daily so that they can see both their friends and celebrities dancing along to whatever new (or old) song is trending on TikTok.
TikTok hitting one billion users in record time is not a surprise. In the society we live in, it is almost impossible to avoid the app. Whether someone sends you a TikTok about the kind of dog you own, or something fun that is going on in London this weekend, the app has us in a chokehold. And it is only going to continue growing from here.
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