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What is TikTok and why is it so popular?  

The Rise of TikTok

TikTok is everywhere these days. As the latest trend in social media, it’s nearly impossible to ignore. TikTok is a Chinese-owned social network that allows users to create and share short, mobile videos. Users create and view humorous, amateur videos up to either fifteen seconds or one-minute long.

Originally released in 2016, TikTok has been steadily gaining momentum over the years. Then, it’s popularity skyrocketed thanks to the global pandemic that is forcing people to shelter in place and find entertainment at home.  In this post, we’ll explain how TikTok works and why it’s so popular.  

How TikTok works

When you open your TikTok account, you’ll see a feed that shows you a variety of videos. As seen below, the videos are organized under an umbrella category based on a theme, hashtag, or account (as seen below). Like Instagram, there is a Discover section to find new videos, as well as hashtags that allow you to find similar content. TikTok also customizes your feed based on the videos you watch and the accounts you interact with. 


This all might sound reminiscent of social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, or the now-defunct Vine. Yes, users interact through views, likes, comments, shares, as is common with other social media platforms. But the nature of the content they create and share content is quite different.

What makes TikTok unique?

TikTok has risen through the ranks of social media for many reasons.

  1. The whimsical nature of its videos. Creativity and humor and key for TikTok. Think a lot of dancing in the kitchen in front of cell phone cameras. 
  2. Sound bites and voiceovers. Users can choose from thousands of audio clips and soundbites for their videos. This leads to humorous lip-syncing songs and dialogues. 
  3. Easy to share. The short videos are easy to share with fellow TikTok users as well as on other social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter. This lends to their virality. 
  4. Challenges. Challenges are an extremely popular form of content on TikTok. Marketing guru Emilie Tabor describes a TikTok challenge as “a call to action by users that invites other viewers to participate while replicating the content with their own version.” This provides a new way for users to interact on social media, leading to TikTok’s high rates of engagement.

Gen Z fueling TikTok growth

TikTok’s novel features and use make it a very popular social network that is quickly outshining its competitors. According to a recent report by Media Kix, Tik Tok’s monthly downloads have eclipsed those of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. Currently, their global user base is estimated at more than 800 million active users.

Much of TikTok’s popularity is due to Gen Z — those born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s– the generation that grew up with social media. Their obsession with TikTok has fueled its growth. In fact, two-thirds of TikTok users are younger than 30 years old and in the U.S., over half of the monthly active users are between the ages 16-24.  As one eighteen-year-old TikToker told us, “I think we [GenZ] have shorter attention spans,” “which is why we love TikTok’s fast-changing feed.”

TikTok’s rising popularity exploded during the global pandemic thanks to people being stuck at home and spending more time on social media. According to a study by Kantar Media group, TikTok usage has gone up by a third (33%) among Gen Z and 27% among Millennials during the COVID lockdown. TikTok is clearly an important new force in social media. 

TikTok is here to stay

TikTok is one of the most successful social networks to make a splash in recent years, with its popularity continuing to grow in 2020. The app is definitely making a name for themselves, disrupting social media usage worldwide.

We are gearing up to partner with brands and content creators that are using TikTok. In the coming weeks, we’ll share some exciting developments between VoxFeed and TikTok. Stay tuned by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on social media!