One of the most talked-about apps out there at the moment goes by the simple but easily recognisable name of TikTok. The could be described as a social networking platform for amateur videos with the primary users of the app being teenagers and kids
Lip syncing videos were the primary purpose of TikTok, but from 2017 the app transitioned from lip-syncing videos to a much broader social media platform. Dancing has now become one of the direct objectives of the app, which has led to music labels promoting artists' new music through the app in the hopes of creating viral dances. These videos can lead to increased sales and streams, which could potentially increase the music labels' ROI.
Out of nowhere
Back in 2014, Musical.ly was launched by Chinese entrepreneurs Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang, building a dedicated and engaged userbase over several years. In 2017 Musical.ly was acquired by ByteDance, a Beijing based media company, for around $1 billion. Around the time that ByteDance purchased Musical.ly, they had already owned a similar app called TikTok, which launched in 2016.
Musical.ly and Tik Tok were both popular apps; however, their activities were in different parts of the world. Tik Tok was mainly focused in the Americas and Europe, with around 100 million monthly users, whereas Musical.ly is an Asian based app with over 500 million monthly users.
According to The Verge, in the first quarter of 2018, TikTok was the most downloaded iOS app. ByteDance decided to merge both apps, choosing to go with the name TikTok as it better represented the brand. In early August 2018, all Musically.ly user accounts and videos were transferred over to TikTok, with Musically.ly ceasing to exist.
Brands such as Calvin Klein, Sony, and Fifa have created marketing campaigns via TikTok, targeting the engaged Gen Z users.
One example of a successful campaign was #InMyDenim, which was a partnership between TikTok and GUESS. GUESS required users to post videos wearing their favorite denim clothes, as well as using the help of content creators such as @madison_willow (1 million followers). The campaign went viral with the hashtag receiving over 38 million views.
Why is TikTok being banned?
In August 2020, President Trump announced that America would be looking to ban TikTok from the United States due to national security reasons. The August 6th executive order stated that TikTok would be forbidden unless sold to an American buyer. The order says that within 45 days, Americans will no longer be able to use TikTok and any other parent companies. Companies and individuals will no longer be able to advertise on the platform, download via the app stores, or enter into licensing agreements. In response, TikTok decided to file a lawsuit challenging the executive order.
According to the New York Times, there is evidence that TikTok is collecting data from children under the age of 13 without parental permission. A Tik Tok spokesperson stated: "TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government nor would we do so if asked."
As of Sunday, August 2nd, Microsoft confirmed that they would be holding discussions with ByteDance to acquire the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand section of TikTok. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella stated: "This new structure would build on the experience TikTok users currently love while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections." Microsoft added, "The operating model for the service would be built to ensure transparency to users as well as appropriate security oversight by governments in these countries." Other companies that were rumoured to be bidding for TikTok were Oracle and Twitter.
On August 27th, Walmart announced that they would be teaming up with Microsoft in a bid to purchase TikTok. Walmart indicated that TikTok could potentially boost the retailers' online presence as well as increase efforts to grow online advertising and create a marketplace for third-party sellers.
Its obvious TikTok is the next big social media platform, with its rapid growth and video concept used to engage the easily influenced Gen Z users. However, we have seen this before; social platforms come and go, with Vine and Myspace, to name a few. Could this be the case with TikTok, or can they reach the heights of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? Only time will tell, but TikToks' success will be centered around two main things, their U.S. acquisition and the retention of their current users. During the lockdown, TikTok became the perfect app for users to spend time watching funny videos and taking part in challenges.
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