Quarantine’s Favorite App: How TikTok Continues to Thrive Amidst COVID-19

Photo courtesy of the Creative Commons.

A month ago everything was normal, now the world is ending. Yet, what remained constant through this period? Tiktok and its dominating popularity. 

TikTok is everyone’s new favorite form of entertainment, distraction, and procrastination. The app provides a new and revolutionary way for people to interact online and share content. Although few over the age of 30 are familiar with TikTok, the app has over 800 million active users, of which over 60 million are active monthly.

TikTok is owned by Bytedance, a Chinese tech company that owns several social media apps, and the world’s most valuable private company, worth $75 million. In 2016, Bytedance first released TikTok as Douyin in China. The app instantly became popular, causing them to release it abroad to select countries as TikTok. However, when it came to US markets, they were faced with one key obstacle – Musical.ly, another short-video app which, appealing to younger generations due to its similarity to Vine, was ranked #1 in the country, and had already created several famous ‘musers’ such as Jacob Sartorius and Loren Grey,. In November 2017, Bytedance bought Musical.ly for $1 billion, and in 2018, merged the two apps by moving all Musical.ly profiles to TikTok. 

Since then, TikTok has only gained more popularity worldwide. Famous celebrities like Justin Bieber and Madison Beer now create content for the app as it competes with well-established social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter for the attention of today’s youth. How did TikTok become so popular so fast? 

“…the endless stream of tiktoks can keep users scrolling through them for hours on end – the distraction is never-ending!”

Firstly, TikTok is popular simply because it gives users what they want better than any other app. When a user opens TikTok, they’re taken to their own personal ‘for you page’, where they’re presented with a stream of tiktoks picked by an algorithm based on the content they’ve liked. Arts videos, DIY videos, dance videos, comedy videos – whatever you want, you’ll get it. This is similar to Instagram’s explore page, but frankly, it’s done better. Furthermore, the endless stream of tiktoks can keep users scrolling through them for hours on end – the distraction is never-ending! 

Secondly, it’s easy to be inspired to create content on TikTok because anyone can get famous. An average user’s ‘for you page’ will consist of tiktoks ranging from millions of ‘likes’ to no ‘likes’. If people ‘like’ your content, you’ll end up on more peoples’ ‘for you pages,’ allowing more people to see it and ‘like’ it. It’s that easy to go viral. In this aspect, TikTok can be compared to Youtube’s recommended videos section. Once again, TikTok excels – it’s much easier for an average person to go viral on TikTok than on Youtube because of the way the algorithm gives unpopular tiktoks a chance. To put it into perspective, you probably don’t know anyone who has become famous on Youtube, but you probably do know at least one person who’s had tens of thousands of views on a tiktok, and many more who keep creating content hoping it’ll happen to them too. 

With all videos under a minute long, and many under 15 seconds, it’s very hard to get bored by a tiktok.”

Finally, the best part about TikTok is probably it’s length. With all videos under a minute long, and many under 15 seconds, it’s very hard to get bored by a tiktok. This short length is something to love as a viewer, as it caters to a short attention span, and something to love as a creator as well, as this makes creating tiktoks relatively low-effort compared to Instagram photos or Youtube videos that can take hours to perfect. 

In summary, TikTok has grasped our generation’s attention, and continues down the path to world domination. 

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