TikTok - What's the deal with the cool video network?

Ever heard of TikTok? If you are over 18 – probably not. Because TikTok has been around for about a year hip trend in the youth social media scene. I have put together what teens find so cool about this video network, why parents are not so keen on it and whether you can do business with the hot network.

Social media networks are a dime a dozen. Only a few manage to be successful over the long term. TikTok has what it takes for several reasons: The Chinese app, which is called "DouYin" there, is based on a successful predecessor: on musical.ly". After the previously successful music video network was bought, it was integrated into TikTok.

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TikTok is getting old again

In 2018, TikTok was among the most downloaded and fastest growing apps. It recorded 150 million daily active users and 500 million monthly users as of June 2018. In Germany, the app was downloaded over 8.8 million times in 2018. No wonder experts continue to predict a bright future for the app, especially among the very young target audience of 10 to 13 years old. The reason: At this age in particular, people are looking for their own identity, trying things out, measuring themselves against others and, above all, striving for recognition. TikTok offers the perfect stage to put yourself in the limelight and receive direct feedback. Plus, the app is just plain fun!

However: After a conversation with my teenage son, TikTok seems to be losing some of its shine among the very young. This is also confirmed by an article in Die ZEIT, which reports that the two best-known influencers on TikTok, the two Swabian twins Lisa and Lena (30 million followers), have deleted their accounts in order to continue on "more adult" networks. This trend is also confirmed by the fact that TikTok has recently been used by sports clubs such as FC Bayern, 1. FC Köln and Borussia Dortmund, which are known to have much older target groups.

It all started with playback

TikTok is really successful in Asia. The app has its most fans in the playback video section, but that doesn't adequately describe it. As Thomas Hutter notes, it is more of a mixture of Vine, Snapchat, Instagram and karaoke. In this area, Musical.ly was the absolute hit in Germany as long as the app existed. The principle is similar: users of the app create a short 15-second playback music video. Put simply, TikTok is the Instagram for videos. Because the videos can be individualized with AR filters, time lapse and other visual effects. The format: 9:16 played in a loop. The partly artistic moving images are shared with friends or publicly.

TikTok can do a lot more

However, TikTok would not be as successful if only videos were simply posted. What is special about the app are different interaction formats, such as challenges, in which other users are asked to recreate a video, duets, in which users “play along” with the other video, or react videos, in which users insert their own reaction into an existing video install. It is precisely these creative interaction options that justify the hype of the app.

The video artists receive creative support from the extensive music library based on Apple Music, which they use for LipSync videos, among other things. But also comedy - or film original sounds can be creatively re-staged.

This is how the video network works!

Unlike Instagram, TikTok is not about perfection, but about fast entertainment. Therefore, creating a video is very easy:

  • You choose a song from the well sorted music list for which you want to create a music video.
  • You record a 15-second video with your mobile phone camera in the app.
  • You can then edit the video and add filters and effects.
  • Lastly, share it among friends or public.
  • Your followers or strangers like or comment on your video. In contrast to the Facebook algorithm, the TikTok algorithm is designed in such a way that new users are found.

If you just want to watch videos, you don't need to register. If you want to be creative yourself, you have to create a profile.

Just as secure or insecure as other networks

As described above, the app has so far mainly been used by 10 to 13 year olds, even though it is only allowed from the age of 13. However, the operator Bytedance does not check this. There is a continuous check of the content, but the age is not verified. Users enter it themselves when registering. Therefore, parents should not rely on it and discuss in detail with their children what can happen if they reveal too much about themselves.

However: Overall, the data security is comparable to other apps. Registration is via email address, phone number or other social media accounts.

Two sources of income

How does TikTok make money? On the one hand, users can place ads in the form of 15-second videos. They hardly differ from the other videos. There is also a virtual reward system. To like other videos prominently, emojis can be purchased and posted under favorite videos. They cost from 50 cents to 60 euros. The more emojis a TikToker collects, the better known they become.

Interesting to reach the young target group

So far, TikTok has not hit Germany as well as it has in Asia. However, the network is very interesting both in terms of the design options and the young target group. There are no company accounts in that sense, but you can set up a pro account with which you can call up statistics.

Cool campaign by Travelbook

A successful TikTok campaign is that of Travelbook. For two weeks, TRAVELBOOK asked influencers about their personal favorite places. Places from Cologne to the Maldives were presented. In total, the hashtag #lieblingsorte had more than eleven million hits. Other brands such as Burger King, Universal Studios and Nike have also successfully implemented TikTok campaigns.

How influential is TikTok in the music industry?

In the music sector, Tiktok is gaining more and more impact: "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X has set a chart record in the USA: With 17 weeks at the top of the single charts, the song Luis Fonsi's hit "Despacito" fails in 2017 and the '90s catchy song "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, which was number one for 16 weeks each. The rap-country crossover song went viral in late 2018 thanks to a TikTok challenge. Because the background music is still the basis of most videos. Because the same songs are always used hundreds of times, they quickly become catchy tunes for TikTok users.


TikTok remains exciting for now. Let's see how long the app stays with young people. They are usually gone quickly when the parents are interested in "their" social network. The features are always individual and offer exciting interaction formats in the YouTube age.

An overview of popular TikTok videos can be found here


picture of Jill Wellington on Pixabay

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