Over recent times, there have been many social media apps that have found their way into the everyday lives of the modern population. With Mum and Dad on Instagram and even Nanna on Facebook, the once sanctuary of the youth the digital space has slowly been overtaken by boomers and other generations. This is not something that happened quickly though. The misunderstood teenagers of the early 2000’s found solace in websites like MySpace, Tumblr and Live Journal, and once a college social networking site, Facebook was generally a space regarded for young adults to connect. Instagram came later on and only recently has had a rise in popularity amongst users beyond it’s original demographic and after some time, even YouTube has slowly become a website used by almost everybody. While this shift took its time, the latest global app sensation TikTok has wasted none. The original demographic being younger uses, it has quickly become one of the most popular apps to hit the mainstream with everybody from families, to celebrities and even pets claiming their space on TikTok. From trending TikTok dances making their way into homes across the globe, becoming part of a vernacular of a population that took forever to grasp the idea of Facebook and to even making the daily news bulletins, TikTok has become one of the most popular apps with a wider demographic in half the time of the applications that came before.

Just How Popular is TikTok

For those who have been part of the digital culture for a long time, the concept of TikTok seems to strike the familiar note of the now-defunct application Vine. While you can create original content, the app is rose to popularity by users being able to create short clips containing lip-synching, dances and other talents like comedy and skits. Even though many current internet celebrities got their start off Vine, the application itself never was able to reach the heights TikTok has and it is still a relatively new player in the digital space. Originating in China and owned by the company ByteDance, it was first released as Douyin for Chinese Users in 2016. Once ByteDance merged Douyin with another application called Music.ly, it was then able to be launched worldwide as TikTok for users in August 2018. By the source for many original viral dance trends, TikTok quickly rose in popularity, most for a younger demographic. Even though it has only been available worldwide since August 2018, it was named the seventh most downloaded application of last decade and was the most downloaded app in 2018 and 2019. It seems that it quickly caught on as a trend with a younger teenage demographic, but recently it has broken out of simply being something “that all the kids do” and now has reached a level of “mainstream” success that took sites like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube years to achieve.

Why So Fast?

Especially when you compare it to other social media apps on the market, TikTok has certainly established dominance in the market. What are the recipes for this success? One can put it down too many reasons. First one must consider its origins. With many social media applications not being available to a Chinese market due to censorship, the popularity of Douyin in China first has to have some bearing on TikTok’s popularity around the rest of the world. The Chinese market is huge, with such a large population, so with the ability to be able to create such a large base before going out into the rest of the world is an advantage for any company. Another reason TikTok may have been able to rise to popularity so quickly is similar to that of Instagram and Vine; it is pretty easy to create content. With being able to create clips between less than sixty seconds, duet with users and reuse other viral content, all one needs is their phone. Content that is easy to replicate like viral dance challenges or lip-syncing is accessible and easy for many users. Also, one cannot deny that timing has been great. With current world events leading to people spending more time at home, families spending more time together, it is more than likely the reason that there has been a demographic expansion of TikTok’s core users is due to children showing their parents during isolation, millennials who grew up in the early days of YouTube, Vine and Instagram wanting a new way to entertain themselves and celebrities looking for ways to keep connecting with their fanbases- with everybody looking for something to do, TikTok has created the perfect distraction during these times. So when your previously social media ignorant family members are now hitting the whoa or the renegade at random times throughout the day, you can thank TikTok for that one.