TikTok is the largest social media platform you've never heard of
TikTok is one of the most popular apps in the world. The kind-of-like-Vine (RIP) lip syncing app added 75 million new users in December alone, bringing its monthly active user count to well over the 500 million mark. In 2018, it was downloaded more than Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube.
Launched just over two years ago in China, TikTok quickly rose to the top of the social media ranks in its home market. Today, there are more than 300 million monthly active users in mainland China alone. TikTok went international in May 2017 and has since become the most popular app in nearby countries like Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand.
TikTok won’t stop
The US reception was initially quiet but TikTok has picked up momentum in recent months. TikTok’s parent company Bytedance acquired a similar lip-syncing app Musical.ly at the end of 2017, which at the time had about 100 million users worldwide and a significant user base in the states.
Since Musical.ly was merged with TikTok in mid-2018, estimates indicate that there are 40 million active TikTok users in the US, including Jimmy Fallon -- though most users are much younger.
TikTok’s meteoric rise has helped its parent company become the most valuable startup in the world. With a valuation of $75 billion, Bytedance is now worth more than Uber (currently valued at $72 billion).
Break it down now ya'll
Honestly, it’s hard to explain. Think of it like Vine (15 second videos) but centered around lip-syncing songs that are more meme than music.
Despite some celebrity endorsements for TikTok itself, champions of the app praise the fact that it's not dominated by influencers, but rather made up of a bunch of everyday people. We’ll see how long that lasts, considering TikTok stars can make substantial cash from users donating “coins” garnered from in-app purchases.
Also, the extra cringeworthy-ness of the karaoke style videos has given rise to “cringe compilations” -- montages of poorly-executed recreations of popular TikTok videos.
It's too early to tell if this social media platform is the next Instagram, but it's growth story so far has been pretty spectacular.