What is TikTok?
With the rise of social networking, high penetration rate of smart devices, and the maturity in streaming technologies, many innovative businesses emerged. TikTok, in particular, is one of the most prominent applications among younger generation. It allows users to upload 15 seconds memes-like videos that usually involve lips-syncing and dancing backed by music and other sound clips. Users can follow other users, like, comment, and share videos just like all other social networking apps. It also supports live-streaming videos and enables audience to send virtual items to performers. TikTok serves as a combination of a social network, a short-file creator, and a live-streaming platform.
Interesting and Unique Elements
- Special algorithms that allow everyone potentially to be famous:
Unlike most social networks that are dominated by micro-celebrities to some degree, TikTok is friendly to everyday user. Its special algorithm to determine the exposure of videos grants every user’s video chances to go viral, regardless of how many followers a user has. Moreover, having teenagers as the main users augments the advantage since many teenagers have dreams of becoming famous and that TikTok is the platform that may make their dreams come true.
- Easy-to-make videos and all kinds of “challenges”:
Another big part of TikTok is its outstanding and user-friendly short-film creator. Technical wise, It provides easy-to-use filters, transitions, and editing that highly reduces the barrier to create fancy videos. Content wise, instead of coming up with your original contents, TikTok is better known for lip-syncing and “challenges” videos, that is, doing similar movements along with same clips of music. Users therefore do not need expertise in scripting and content creation. In sum, TikTok makes producing a cool and well-made video easy enough for every user. On top of that, combining with the social network characteristics and the fact that teenager culture is inclusive with strong bandwagon effect, TikTok gains popularity among teenagers in a short period.
- User perspective:
Other than the satisfaction from connecting with people and being under spotlights, the fame that users gain in the population can actually create monetary value in three ways. The most common way is through partnering with shops and businesses to expose their products in the videos. Second, TikTok allows audiences to send virtual gifts, which can be converted to real money, when a user is live streaming. Finally, some people leverage TikTok brand themselves and then divert their followers to personal websites, shops, or other platforms.
- TikTok perspective:
First, TikTok can benefit from users purchasing virtual coins that will further be exchanged for virtual gifts. Next, TikTok receives huge amount of money from all kinds of advertisements, such as splash ads and news feed ads. Advertisements are charged by cost per a thousand impressions or cost per click.
Though it ran into some incidents related to inappropriate contents, the hype of TikTok has not yet reached its peak. With TikTok rapidly growing user base and extraordinary numbers of active users, there is so much potential in it.
 Sarah Perez, “It’s time to pay serious attention to TikTok,” Techcrunch, January 2019, https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/29/its-time-to-pay-serious-attention-to-tiktok/, accessed February 22, 2019.
 Heather Schwedel, “A Guide to TikTok for Anyone Who Isn’t a Teen,” Slate, September 2018, https://slate.com/technology/2018/09/tiktok-app-musically-guide.html, accessed February 22, 2019.
 Julia Glum, “Meet the Head of TikTok, a 35-Year-Old Who Makes Employees Do Push-Ups if Their Videos Don’t Get Enough Likes,” Money, January 2019, http://money.com/money/5497929/how-tiktok-makes-money-tiktok-owner/, accessed February 22, 2019.