Is TikTok ready to seat at the Adult’s table?


Over the last couple of months, odds are that a surplus of “lip-synching” videos have been showing up on your social media timeline. TikTok is growing but if you think it’s new then you’re late to the party. The app has been quite popular for a long time and counted more than 500 Million monthly users in 2018 (that’s more than Twitter). Could it one day become the new Facebook and/or Instagram?

TIKTOK uh? 

TikTok is simple: it’s a platform for sharing short videos (up to 15 or 60 seconds long), using different features like songs and filters you can apply. The goal is to create funny videos or to reply to someone else’s post via a split-screen. 

Launched in 2016, in China, under the name of Douyin, then in 2017 for the markets outside China as TikTok. The startup is owned by Byte Dance, a Chinese company, creator of many popular apps in Asia. The platform is growing at an exponential rate, being the most downloaded App on IOS and gaining 188 million new users in Q1 2019. Worth more than $75 Million, the startup is one of the most successful startups this year, yet many are unaware of the platform’s impact.  

To be kept in mind; it is difficult to find precise facts on the average age of users as TikTok doesn’t make them available to the public but most of its users are young, with 41% aged between 16 and 24. It is with certainty that the average users is not a working man or woman, but more like a teenager.

A LARGE POTENTIAL 

It seems like the creators have noticed certain trends in social media usage this decade and used them to their advantage. First, Snapchat’s controversial concept of communication through photography made highly popular. Then, Vine (hard not to make a comparison), the legendary platform which was the first to come out with the concept of short-form video. Now TikTok which came out with a very similar idea and added the video editing feature, making it simple for all to become an expert at adding special effects to content.

Tendencies are constantly changing and it seems that users tend to go toward “creativity”. From written post on Twitter and Facebook to photos on Instagram and Snapchat to now videos with editing features, the content diversifies and is always more entertaining.

As a comparison, there are more than 5 million #InMyFeelings challenge videos on TikTok compared to 1.7 million on Instagram. Using these recent trends, TikTok  manages to grow at a strong rate by accumulating thousands of users everyday. 

It took Facebook 6 years to reach 500 million users and 5 years for Instagram. TikTok did it in 3. Specialists in the social media industry have been arguing over its potential non-stop. Recently, Gary Vee, investor, CEO and social media expert shared with his audience that TikTock will become the new Instagram the same way Instagram became the new Facebook for many.

If interested, here is the video …

RED FLAG: PRIVACY 

Facebook has been under heavy fire recently due to the company’s usage of personal data. (See The Power of Data), but what about new startups like TikTok? Bytedance was fined $5.7m (£4.2m), for illegally collecting personal information from children under 13. The company’s privacy rules should be talked about as well, as they’re a lot vaguer and invasive than other competitors. An investigation by the FTC, “uncovered disturbing practices, including collecting and exposing the location” of users (including children). The commission also disclosed that the company kept information longer than necessary.

 This is the statement under the privacy tab on “Tiktok.com” :

“We automatically collect certain information from you when you use the Platform, including your IP address, location-related data (as described below), unique device identifiers, browsing history (including content you have viewed in the Platform), Cookies (as defined below), your mobile carrier, time zone setting, and mobile or device information including the model of your device, screen resolution, operating system, app and file names and types, and platform.”

Other information that is collected are “ your contact details, content you create”, as well as “information contained in the messages you send through our Platform” according to Tik Tok. 

Everyone reacts differently to privacy standards and rules but for me personally, in this statement by TikTok, I read the words “we collect…”, way too many times for me to trust the way they utilize my personal data. 

It’s good to keep in mind these details when predicting a company’s future, especially when 66% of users are younger than 30-years-old. The sustainability of the company is for sure at risk. 

Personal prediction:

The platform is based on humor & creativity and if no massive updates comes to alter the identity of Tik Tok then it will hardly become more than Vine and certainly won’t become bigger than Instagram or Facebook.


Sources: tiktok.com / edition.cnn.com / techcrunch.com/ mediakix.com

Published by Néo

P.D.W. Administrator & Business Student at Aix-Marseille University, France.

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