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Whether you’re an avid content creator, a marketing-minded entrepreneur, or just desperately want your child to stop doing crazy dances they found on the internet, I have news for you: TikTok isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.
Social media apps come and go, but video content consumption continues to grow. Hours spent consuming content on a smartphone are on track to eventually surpass hours spent watching television, and the current stay at home orders have likely accelerated these consumption trends.
Consider TikTok’s impressive growth statistics:
At the time of this writing, TikTok is the most-downloaded free social media app, and second among all app downloads only to Zoom
American users account for 20 percent of all TikTok revenue
According to an online research project from Influencer Marketing Hub, engagement rate is higher on TikTok than other social media platforms (higher than Instagram, and five to 10 times higher than Twitter, depending on account size).
TikTok is a triple threat because it combines seamless video creation, an entertainment-driven social network and one-touch syndication options.
Why TikTok is the new Instagram
Instagram’s secret sauce at the time of its debut in 2010 was that it empowered users with no prior photography experience to instantly create pleasing photos and share them with a social network. Consumers could apply filters and express their lives visually from the palm of their hand.
Just 18 months after launch, Facebook acquired Instagram — which had zero dollars in revenue at the time — for $1 billion, a risky bet many analysts now see as the acquisition deal of the decade. Instagram’s time on platform continued to rise for years to come and has only recently leveled off.
TikTok delivers a similar “skill acquisition” experience, except this time its users can become savvy videographers. Everything you need to craft a multimedia experience — from trimming clips, to adding soundtracks and filters — can be done entirely within the app and easily shared with friends, which is key for time on platform (And future potential ad revenue for TikTok’s parent company ByteDance).
Here are three key components of TikTok’s interface that will ensure its popularity for months and years to come.
1. TikTok’s content editor is native
The app’s features to shoot footage, rapidly trim and stitch together clips, and incorporate music and voice effects at the touch of a button make it an amateur creator’s dream. In case you’re new to TikTok:
Videos are 15 seconds in length, but users can create a string of up to four 15-second segments at once
Videos can be shared publicly, sent to select accounts or can remain completely private
Tagging other accounts, hashtags and saving videos to your own albums are all part of the ecosystem
The trim feature is particularly enticing because it allows creators to storyboard a video and then rapidly produce and publish a finished product.
2. TikTok’s feed is wired for viral videos
TikTok’s home page is far more like Twitter than Facebook or Instagram; viral videos with huge engagement move to the front of the line and comprise the feed, and you’re served one video at a time (though a “Discover” tab lets you browse specific topics or hashtags).
This is part of TikTok’s competitive advantage: An endless number of prompts and challenges make it easy to participate because you don’t have to have anything interesting to talk about in order to get started. Performance-oriented videos are embedded into TikTok’s DNA, especially after ByteDance acquired lip-syncing app Musical.ly in November 2017 and absorbed its features into the TikTok experience.
Funny dances and hashtag-driven challenges spread at dizzying speed, and on TikTok, entertainment value reigns supreme. The result is a rabbit hole users enjoy going down, and that’s good news for prospective advertising revenue.
3. TikTok assets are easy to cross-post
Everett Rogers, a communications professor and author of the popular 1962 book Diffusion Of Innovations, divided adopters of new ideas and technology into five categories: Innovators, early adopters, the early majority, the late majority and laggards.
Rogers’ research names both effective communication channels and a social network as factors in the proliferation of ideas, and TikTok has both of these going for it at warp speed. Although innovators and early adopters together comprise only 16 percent of the population, the app’s options to syndicate both content you create and content you discover to other valuable real estate — such as the Instagram story feed — means the app’s content is being exposed to other, larger audiences. TikTok content is already created as vertical video, so one-touch syndication to Instagram Stories is a breeze and will likely contribute substantially to the platform’s organic user growth.
Whether you’re a content creator or more of a social media lurker, you’ll likely be hearing about TikTok for months and years to come. Consider jumping on the bandwagon, even if it’s just to get inspired and see the latest 15-second films savvy users around the world are creating now.
Related: TikTok Isn’t Going Anywhere