If you’re anything like me, you’re able to scroll through TikTok for hours at a time without even realizing it. The social media platform allows users to edit, upload, and watch short videos on just about any topic and has gained widespread popularity over the past year, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left everyone bored in isolation. According to TechCrunch, the app surpassed two billion downloads in April, one of the early months of quarantine. TikTok proves to be a huge threat to other video streaming apps as its usage among young kids and teenagers continues to increase. Just last summer, it was reported that kids across the U.S. spent an average of 82 minutes per day on TikTok, just a few minutes under the 86 minutes per day reported to have been spent on Youtube. But what exactly makes this app stand out from other social media networks to make it so addicting? The answer is simple: its user experience.
TikTok’s “For You” page, known for its scarily accurate and personalized content is one of the contributing factors to the app’s success. Unlike other platforms, TikTok makes the important decisions for the viewers, a lot better than the users probably would. TikTok collects data on the types of videos users have engaged with the most or ones that were streamed more than once, and uses this data to create a “For You” page full of videos that they believe the user wants to see. By doing so, the app eliminates any need for the user to search through dozens of unwanted videos before finding ones that they find interesting, thus providing an easier and much more convenient experience.
In addition to the convenience of the “For You” page, much of TikTok’s success can be attributed to a combination of its Hollywood-esque “star system” and the low barriers of entry. In an interview with Greylock Partners, the Co-Founder of TikTok, Alex Zhu, compares the rise of his platform to the rise of a new economy. In this case, TikTok is the economy and wealth is a following on the platform. Essentially, Zhu believed that by picking a group of creators to rise to stardom, users of other platforms would feel inspired to join TikTok because they notice how some users are quickly gaining fame and realize that they can do the same. As a result, the relationship between viewers and creators on TikTok is much closer, further contributing to the app’s impressively entertaining and enjoyable user experience.
But it doesn’t stop there. TikTok’s low barriers to entry make it easy for anyone to create anything, thus motivating users to continue creating content. The app offers many intuitive creative tools such as filters, music/sounds, and other video editing tools making it an amazing experience for first-time creators. Not only that, but the “challenge culture” on TikTok encourages users to hop on the latest trends and add their own special twist for a chance to gain more viewership. Because of these aspects, content on TikTok takes very little effort and time, but still leads to bigger rewards than other social media platforms. For example, despite the amount of work that goes into creating Youtube videos, it is much more difficult to get views on Youtube, than it is on TikTok.
Even after several controversies over privacy issues and other conflicts with the government, TikTok continues to be a leading social media platform, as more people download the app and create new trends. I mean, who knows, maybe a video of you dancing to an unreleased SZA song will go viral next!