History of TikTok: keys, curiosities and evolution of the social network that everyone wants to imitate

We are not wrong if we say that TikTok, the social network of Chinese origin that allows you to record, edit and share short videos, will continue to go strong in the coming months (and years). An application fundamentally focused on the new generations, reminiscent of other past social networks such as Vine (the Twitter application that closed a few years ago), but with the particularity of allowing its users to share short and instant videos, adding animated backgrounds, effects sound and many other visual filters.

But since surely not all of us have in mind what it is, how it works and why it will be key in the future of social networks, in this article we are going to give you a brief summary of its history: the history of TikTok.

What is TikTok, the successful app of Chinese origin

TikTok is one of the mobile applications with the highest number of downloads in recent months. Surprising, right? Well, this is the Chinese app that has adopted the best of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to merge their strongest points, and place itself among the most used mobile applications, today, by young people and adolescents.

An app where we can find fun looping videos, set with very up-to-date music, and with hundreds and hundreds of visual filters to decorate the contents of those users who, already immersed in instant messaging, can’t wait a second to share with their friends. video colleagues, which began with a duration of less than one minute, but since 2022 they can last up to ten minutes.

Among the most common content on TikTok are music videos or, sometimes, montages with playback, but also funny videos with filters, duets between users, challenges and endless other combinations, with immediate and instantaneous effect. In addition, it is increasingly common to also see brands creating content to display their products. Even organizations such as the United Nations using the platform to raise interest in really important issues, such as world famine or global warming, through the promotion of challenges such as #danceforchange.

However, TikTok has not only revealed itself as a powerful social network, but due to its characteristics it has also turned out to be ideal for inspiration or discovery. Something that is taking hold especially in the younger generations, who have already made it a habit to make their inquiries on this social network, instead of the classic Google. In fact, 40% of young people go to TikTok or Instagram when they want to discover a place to eat, instead of going to Google search or Maps.

ByteDance, the origin of the TikTok story

Actually, the history of TikTok is not too long. We must go back to 2016 to mention ByteDance, the Chinese technology company that launched the app in its domestic market, first as A.me (September 2016) and later as Douyin (December 2016). It wasn’t until a year later that it launched in most markets outside of mainland China under the name TikTok.

That same year, in 2017, TikTok acquired Musical.ly for $1 billion. This was another Chinese social networking service also specialized in the creation of videos and live broadcasts, which allowed its users to create videos of between 15 and 60 seconds, using different filters, effects and speed options. But, it was not until August 2, 2018 that the result of the merger between TikTok and Musical.ly (which would retain the TikTok name) was available and the accounts, content and followers of the musers (as the users called themselves). Musical.ly users) were automatically moved to the new app.

Despite the great success that currently surrounds TikTok, its beginnings suffered a slight boycott attempt by musers. Angered by the news that their beloved platform was going to disappear to be integrated into another, they expressed their discontent in the comments of the Google Play Store. Fact that today is nothing more than a curious anecdote, seeing how the Chinese social network has managed to win the sympathy of users and become one of the networks of the moment.

In 2018 it already became one of the most downloaded mobile applications in the United States; thanks, in part, to the push that well-known celebrities made on her. For example, with Jimmy Fallon (a well-known North American comedian), who made a special mention of the application during one of his shows.

Thanks to this and many other actions, the app grew more and more. At the end of 2018, it already had more than 80 million downloads in the United States and 800 million in the rest of the world. It was already available in 75 languages ​​and sold in more than 150 markets around the world. A short time later, TikTok already had more registered users than Twitter or Snapchat; as well as a number of total downloads worldwide of 1,500 million.

Also, as expected, other social networks were quick to copy their successful formats, with applications such as Byte, Reels, a function within Instagram that meets all the requirements to be considered a clone of TikTok; or Likee, of Singaporean origin.

TikTok, the app to beat in 2023

Tiktok reads your mind, According to the latest data from the Digital 2022 report prepared by Hootsuite, TikTok currently has 1,000 million monthly active users and is positioned as the fifth most used social network in the world.

It is easy to know that the application has made a deep impression among young people, since they are the ones who spend the most time sharing their dances, challenges and trends. According to the latest data from the Digital 2022 report, TikTok ranks sixth in the ranking of users’ favorite social networks (4.3%). And, if we differentiate by age groups, it is indeed young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who choose TikTok as their favorite platform. Being selected by 8.9% of women and by 5.4% of men of these ages.

The platform continues to grow every day both in number of users and in popularity, so much so that it has positioned itself as the app that experienced the highest growth in downloads in Spain and as the second worldwide in 2022. Without a doubt, brands should take this application into account in order to reach the large audience of TikTok, Generation Z, joining the trends that exist at all times and thus creating lasting relationships with your audience.

TikTok and online sales

But TikTok has also entered eCommerce: at the beginning of 2021 it announced an alliance with Shopify, one of the platforms for creating the most popular online stores in the world, to promote the development of businesses and brands within its social network, through Optimizing your advertising strategies. Shortly after, the social network took a new step within this alliance, which brought the social network even closer to becoming a platform for eCommerce. With this new integration, the social network planned to offer a new eCommerce experience to its users, in the form of a new purchase tab in the profile of the brands or businesses present in Shopify.

Likewise, TikTok also ventured into the world of live commerce with its TikTok Shop initiative, although this did not last long. Given the success that this formula was having in China (in 2021 Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, managed to generate product sales worth 119,000 million dollars), the platform expected to achieve similar results in the rest of the world, starting with United Kingdom.

However, the results obtained in the country were scarce and in the summer of 2022 a change of course was announced in its plans to enter the world of live commerce, stopping the arrival of TikTok Shop in other European countries (Germany, Spain, France and Italy) and the USA.

Stories come to TikTok

As much as it is said that more than one social network has been inspired by TikTok to create new features and try to attract its success, the truth is that TikTok itself has sinned in the same way on more than one occasion.

In March 2022, the Chinese social network announced the launch of TikTok Stories, which work in a similar way to Instagram stories. The stories published on TikTok can be seen directly on the user’s profile by clicking on their profile image. In addition, you can like them and they last 24 hours, after that time, they disappear automatically.

TikTok Now is born, the answer to unseat BeReal

When it seemed that nothing could cloud the reign of TikTok, an enemy to beat appeared, a simple network that threatened to capture all the attention of users: BeReal. In 2022, this French social network came to lead the download rankings for iOS in the US and also in Spain. TikTok couldn’t sit still in the face of such a threat, so it applied that inspirational tactic we talked about earlier.

In September 2022, a new app TikTok Now was released, to the surprise of users who did not expect a standalone app. Regarding its mechanics, this is very similar to that of BeReal, users receive a daily notification and will have to upload a photo or a 10-second video, with the front and rear cameras of the mobile device.

Among the promotional actions that TikTok developed to boost the popularity of TikTok Now, the referral campaign to attract new users that it executed in November 2022 stands out. With this, new users could earn up to €7 for registering in the app and €7 extra maximum for each new user who used your code to join TikTok Now.

Crusades against TikTok

Success brings many benefits, but it also raises blisters. This is what happens to Meta with TikTok, the Facebook parent company is not happy that another network is taking the attention of the public, especially the youngest. So much so that, last year, Meta would have financed a campaign to smear the Chinese social network.

To do this, he would have hired the services of Targeted Victory, a famous consulting firm linked to the Republican Party. From Meta, Andy Stone, a company spokesman, stated “We believe that all platforms, including TikTok, should face a level of scrutiny commensurate with their growing success.” However, through internal emails from Targeted Victory seen by The Washington Post, it was discovered that part of Meta’s strategy revolved around blaming TikTok for dangerous trends that had actually emerged in Meta apps. .