If you use social media even sporadically, you must have noticed a rise in short-form video content on your timeline as of late.
Being a universal trend, the emergence of these videos holds true for all popular platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. More often than not, the content of these videos is purely funny. At other times, it’s massively educational. While in a few instances, it’s simply musical.
But even as the form of the content varies, you can easily trace the source of these videos back to TikTok, which has become an overnight success in the U.S.
TikTok was originally launched in China in late 2016. But the app has only recently caught fire in the U.S., especially among the younger demographic of 18 and younger.
At its core, TikTok allows users to create short-form videos that average on a 15-second duration. In some instances, these videos can go as long as 60 seconds, but that completely depends on the creator’s own discretion.
At TikTok, users can easily record, edit, caption and share videos all from their phone. Due to TikTok’s content sharing model, these videos have a better chance of exposure to a wider audience than creators would have if they shared this content on Facebook or Instagram.
That explains why you are currently able to see TikTok videos of all kinds over your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed – and why they seem to have a ubiquitous presence that seems inescapable to many.
As mentioned above, TikTok brings certain features to its users that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram video recordings do not. For instance, extensive video editing and exposure through the app are two of the most popular offerings by the platform that aren’t offered by any other famous app at the moment.
Apart from editing clips, using sound-effects in voiceovers, and adding subtitle-like captions over videos, TikTok videos also have the ability to use the sound-effects from any other video on the platform. This creates virtually unlimited opportunities to content creators who specialize in making lip-syncing videos, which happen to appeal to a large audience.
Apart from its features, one of the main reasons of TikTok’s popularity is the lack of short-form video sharing apps.
The former ruler of the category, Vine, was purchased by Twitter for $30 million in 2012, only to be axed by the platform in favor of its own video recording features. Ironically, one of the biggest fame boosters for TikTok is its videos going viral on Twitter more than any other third-party platform.
The other platform that could come closest to Vine was Musical.ly, which was acquired by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance for a whopping $1 billion in 2017. As a result, ByteDance had TikTok absorb Musical.ly’s 100 million user base. Since most of these users belonged to the U.S., it gave TikTok an entry into the western market, and as of 2019 boasted 800,000,000 active users.
Due to the absence of major competition, TikTok has struck a chord with content creators of all age groups and types. In many ways, it has become the new door of opportunity for entertainers who otherwise did not have a fair shot at fame.
While TikTok may seem like a fad that’s set for obscurity like Vine, MySpace, and the unfortunate Snapchat, it is currently doing quite well for itself. So far, the app has been the reason behind content creators getting shared houses together, getting high end celebrity and corporate sponsorship deals, and content creators being signed by major talent agencies.
With the world’s current situation of social distancing and larger lockdown, the app seems to be enjoying a further boost to its usage. Whether TikTok stands the larger test of time or not, one thing is for certain: it is not going anywhere for the time being. We are all in it for the ride, so you may as well get used to consuming TikTok content while it’s here to make us laugh and think.