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The History of the TikTok App

Like a bat outta hell, TikTok is all of a sudden everywhere. Like E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.

Launching only a handful of years ago in 2016, it’s the textbook definition of what we perceive to be the overnight success story. It literally felt like one day to the next that the collective consciousness outside of China went from not knowing TikTok to being TikTok fanatics.

For the purposes of this post, we’ll go ahead and mostly sidestep the abundant and seemingly unending controversy surrounding the app and just give you a little crash course in its vitals.

What Is TikTok?

Seems important to exactly what this thing does, no?

TikTok is basically an app used for creating videos. You’ll find lots of lip-syncing, dance and music-related content due to the origins of the app that we’ll get to in a second, but content runs the gamut at this point and includes everything under the sun.

It’s intended to be short form. Very short form. Instant gratification is the name of the game with social and TikTok capitalizes on that big time. Videos recorded on the app come in two sizes: 3 seconds up to 15 seconds and 3 seconds up to 60 seconds. You can also post videos longer than a minute if uploaded from outside the app.

It’s sort of the evolution of Vines. Remember Vines?

In fact, once Vines was shuttered by Twitter back in 2016, lots of people moved over to an app called that was launched in 2014.

Also in 2016, the Chinese tech company ByteDance created Douyin which very quickly racked up users. 

In 2018 they bought and rebranded it as TikTok for use outside of China. In essence, TikTok is the combo of Douyin and with Douyin being the version used in China and TikTok everywhere else.

That’s the Tik Tok origin story. Got it? Makes sense?

Why Is It So Popular?

It’s not just popular, it’s absurdly popular.

The app has over 800 million active users and has been downloaded over 2 billion times.

In terms of the United States specifically, TikTok has roughly 100 million monthly active users which is a nearly 800% increase from January of 2018. Eight Hundred Percent!

The popularity lies in both its algorithm that keeps people hooked with content they’re craving and in the pursuit of going viral that seems to motivate so many these days.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the app is not so much that it has attained such stratospheric heights of popularity so quickly but rather who it’s popular with.

Gen Z.

Over 60% of TikTok users are Gen Z-ers, i.e. people born after 1996. Wild. From a marketing standpoint, you’re going to want to pay close attention to this next bit. Gen Z is over 70 million people in the US. Globally, Gen Z is already the largest generation, surpassing Millennials and Baby Boomers.

Are you talking to them? If not, depending on your niche, you need to at least start thinking about it.

Take a second.


Now that you realize you need to update and modernize your strategy in order to speak and connect with this massive cohort, the next task is getting it going.



Sure, there’s some controversial stuff surrounding it and it’s largely centered on data collecting and mining. Yes, it’s very important to understand that, what it means, where it goes, etc. and yes all social media companies traffic in the same data collecting but that aside for the time being, TikTok is hugely popular and is a great way to connect with your audience. Capitalize on while you can.

If you’re still unsure of how it can fit into your digital marketing strategy, hit us up at The Snow Agency and we’ll take you deeper into and get you going.