09 Nov The Rise of Tik Tok
The Unstoppable Force Revolutionizing Social Media
TikTok, the short video-sharing sensation, has taken the world by storm and is now the fastest-growing social media platform on the internet. Surpassing the likes of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Netflix, this controversial app has witnessed a staggering 2 billion downloads across 200 countries and 75 languages in just four years. Despite facing challenges from governments and individuals over alleged inappropriate content and geopolitical concerns, TikTok’s popularity continues to rise, influencing diverse communities and shaping the future of internet companies globally.
The Evolution of TikTok
The journey of this Beijing-based tech startup has been a tale of success, marked by multiple rebranding strategies. Initially launched as Musical.ly in Shanghai, China, in 2014 by Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang, TikTok underwent significant transformations. In November 2017, ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, acquired Musical.ly for a staggering $1 billion, leading to the seamless merger of all Musical.ly accounts with TikTok in 2018. The platform quickly climbed the ranks to become the seventh most-used social network worldwide, surpassing Twitter and Reddit. Today, with more than 689 million active global users, TikTok ranks as the third most common search query on Youtube.
The Power of Artificial Intelligence
TikTok’s success can be attributed to its sophisticated artificial intelligence technology. By analyzing user interests and preferences, the platform delivers a personalized feed, ensuring users stay engaged for extended periods. Setting itself apart from traditional platforms like Instagram and Twitter, TikTok’s central feature, the «For You Page,» spotlights content from unfamiliar users, promoting broader content discovery. Emphasizing inclusivity, TikTok markets itself as «for everyone,» a sentiment echoed by millions through the trending #tiktokisforeveryone hashtag.
Fighting Misinformation Through Creativity
Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, TikTok emerged as a crucial platform for citizen engagement. Unfortunately, it also became susceptible to vaccine misinformation, garnering over 20 million views and 2 million likes, comments, and shares. However, governments and organizations like the World Health Organization have utilized TikTok’s engaging format to combat misinformation effectively and disseminate accurate information to a wide audience.
Empowering Small Businesses
TikTok has extended its influence beyond entertainment, supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises. Collaborating with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, TikTok for Business launched the Dubai Chamber—TikTok Academy, aiming to assist 1,000 startups with their digital growth strategies. In Arab economies, where small businesses comprise 90% of all formal private sector enterprises, access to bank loans for expansion is limited. This educational program provides participating businesses with essential entrepreneurial skills, including creative content creation, marketing campaigns, and optimization. With TikTok’s users spending over an hour daily on the platform, small businesses have a significant opportunity to engage and captivate their target audience consistently.
The Future of TikTok
As TikTok’s popularity continues to soar, the platform may venture into new markets like the payment industry, food delivery, and online shopping. While its impact on global development is evident, particularly in political advocacy and institutional missions, skepticism remains about its true influence. However, TikTok’s growth and authentic user engagement offer valuable insights for people-first research, humanizing the development process. As TikTok captures diverse audiences, it is crucial for the development industry to strategize and maintain effective communication with their target demographics on this dynamic platform.