TikTok : The New Social Media Giant?


Every few years, the internet comes alive with a new social media app. Tiktok is the latest sensation with millions of users flocking to sign up on the app. Going by the recent statistics, Tiktok is the platform to watch in 2020.


In 2014, a social media app Musical-ly became popular with young people between 13-18 years old. The app allowed users to combine their own videos with popular songs. The most common use of the app was to create videos where users were lip-synching to their favourite songs while dancing. By 2017, the Musical-ly app had garnered over 200 million users.

In 2016, Chinese app developer ByteDance created a rival app to Musical-ly, Douyin. The app had been launched only in China but rebranded to TikTok for better international appeal. Within a year, the TikTok app had over 100 million users.

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ByteDance acquired Musical-ly in late 2017 for a fee of $800 million (Ksh80 billion). The user accounts from both apps were consolidated and the two apps were merged into one with the name TikTok.

Thereafter, TikTok became increasingly popular. It was the most downloaded app in the Apple playstore in 2018; surpassing YouTube, Instagram and Whatsapp downloads. By mid-2019, TikTok had over 500 million installs on Google Playstore.

How to use it

TikTok basically shows videos that are 15 seconds long. There is an option to share a video of up to one-minute-long but no longer-form links. There is no provision for images or text and this can be quite difficult for newbies to navigate. You can create a video on the app or upload one from your gallery. There is an option to edit and delete parts of the video and add various effects, filters and sound. You can choose from a drop down list of songs and sounds to go with your videos.

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The app already has over 1 billion downloads and has attracted many brands and celebrities. Kenyan musicians such as FemiOne are riding on the #utawezanachallenge which has created the latest viral internet sensation Azziad Nasenya who captured people’s attention with her dance moves.

TiKTok has been particularly dominated with a young demographic of between 19 to 34 years but more people such as Will Smith have recently signed up and still continue to amass a wide audience. The whole idea behind the app is to entertain and you can see this from the videos shared on the app.

Users have the option to pick their interests from drama, funny clips, sports, love etc Users simply appeal to their audience using their content.

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Unlike other social media apps, TikTok does not have a monetization aspect to it. Most people who would like to monetize redirect their fans to other platforms where they can be found. More businesses have started joining TikTok in a bid to interact with their audience and keep up with the ever changing demands of their markets.

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Written by Francis Muli

Follow me on Twitter @francismuli_. Email

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