Despite almost being banned in the US, being actually banned in its second-biggest usage market, almost being sold off entirely and facing various direct challenges from rivals.
Despite all of this, TikTok has continued to steadily grow, and build on its foundations, and has now reached a new milestone of one billion monthly active users.
As per TikTok:
“More than 1 billion people around the world now come to TikTok every month to be entertained as they learn, laugh, or discover something new. We're honored to be a home for our immensely diverse community of families, small businesses, and creators who transform into our favorite stars.”
TikTok has also posted this clip to celebrate the achievement.
✨ 1 billion✨ people on TikTok! Thank you to our global community ????♬ original sound - TikTok
Note that they have used Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas for this clip, rather than TikTok CEO Shouzi Chew. Make of that what you will.
The platform, seen by some as the second-coming of Vine, has generated huge audience response, and has quickly become the template for the next stage of social media development, with almost every social app now seeking to copy TikTok’s key elements, and align with evolving usage trends.
Indeed, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are all in the process of trying TikTok-like options – which, given TikTok’s meteoric rise, makes perfect sense.
For context, TikTok has gone from 54 million users in January 2018 to a billion now, meaning it added some 950 million users in around 45 months. Instagram went from 100 million actives in February 2013, to a billion in June 2018 (66 months), which is not directly comparable due to different rates of mobile connectivity, usage, etc. But it does provide some measure of TikTok’s success.
And while the platform does still have some work to do in building an equitable, profitable and stable business within the short-form video format (which is not easy), the foundations are now clearly set, with the app continuing to lead the monthly download charts, and also lead the way as the key social platform for many, many younger users.
Which is where TikTok is truly winning. Just as Facebook superseded MySpace, TikTok is seeing a similar shift, with younger users spending more and more time on the platform, and migrating away from Facebook and Instagram instead. That doesn’t necessarily mean that TikTok will eventually win out, as such, but you can see that same trend evolving - which is why Facebook’s been so keen to push its TikTok-like tools, as it seeks to find ways to maintain its grip on its audience, and stop the slow slide into irrelevance that eventually swallowed up MySpace.
Facebook remains a critical connection tool for many, and it’s investing big in new markets and evolving technologies to ensure that it stays at the top of the heap. There’s less concern that Facebook will go the way of MySpace in this respect, but evidence does suggest that TikTok is absolutely winning the war of attention among the youth, which bodes well for its enduring success.
The next stage, as noted, is effective monetization, and TikTok is developing various eCommerce solutions and tools to better facilitate business, and creator funding, through a range of means.
That’s where TikTok’s Chinese sister app ‘Douyin’ has seen big success, with the platform now generating the majority of its revenue from eCommerce and direct selling integrations.
That could help TikTok streamline its own monetization tools, because with Douyin having some 600 million daily active users in mainland China, that gives TikTok a big headstart in testing and implementation of new initiatives, because they’ve already gone through the trial and response process in Douyin before making it across.
Of course, concerns remain around the app’s potential links to the Chinese Government, and the requirement for TikTok to share user information with the CCP on request. That regulation will remain in effect as long as TikTok is owned by Bytedance - but for now at least, it seems that regulators have taken a step back in pushing for more transparency and change, as the app continues to grow around the world.
But it could still become an issue once again. As the Chinese Government continues to flex its muscle on various fronts, many nations remain concerned about the threat that it could pose, and how apps like TikTok could play into this. As such, there will always remain a level of caution around the app – but really, for marketers, the advice is the same for any social platform. Don’t build too much reliance on any one app or tool, and don’t put your fate into the hands of a third party wherever you can.
It seems, now, unlikely that TikTok will be taken away completely, and with the holiday season approaching, and more people still coming to the app, you can expect to see TikTok trends once again dominating discussion, and boosting the app even further.
As such, all social media marketers should, at the least, be familiarizing themselves with the platform, and assessing the potential for their brands.
A billion users is huge – it’s now on par with Instagram in terms of overall users, and growing much faster. A key consideration in your planning.