Figure 1. “TikTok first-time downloads, Q2 2016 – Q4 2019”. By Sensor Tower. https://www.businessofapps.com/data/tik-tok-statistics/
I choose Tiktok as the entity I want to analyze. Tiktok first entered the public eye as a social software for music creative short videos. With the continuous increase in the amount of information on the Internet, people must allocate limited attention to a wide rage of information. This phenomenon has caused people’s fragmented time to become a potential market. Tiktok takes this potential market as its main goal, and spreads content through the Internet and mobile terminals through short and fast content (Cheng Zhao, 2019). This is the main reason that Tiktok played a huge role in changing our internet usage. Tiktok as social platform, also had a transformative effect on our social and culture world, even if it is a very young software.
Figure 2. “US TikTok user demographics, Android “. By App Ape Lab. https://en.lab.appa.pe/2020-01/a-look-at-tiktok-overtaking-the-world-in-2019.html
How Tiktok development and How did it get there?
Tiktok was initially launched in China in September 2019, formerly known as A.me. After the name change, Tiktok began its full promotion in the second quarter of 2017. Tiktok is a music short video community platform for all ages. Users can select songs through this software, shoot short music videos, and form their own works. At the same time, users’ favorite videos will be updated according to their preferences. When TikTok was just launched, it was suspected that because of its similar interface and functional design, it copied Musical.ly. However, Tiktok acquired Musical.ly in October 2017 for $1 billion. Tiktok acquired Musical.ly in October 2017 for $1 billion. In addition, the achievements of Tiktok are inseparable from the development speed of the times. When Tiktok went online, China’s network construction was developing at a high speed. The network speed was increasing while tariffs were being reduced, and smart phones were becoming popular (Zhengfeng Shao, 2018). Tiktok also makes better use of visual communication. Visual communication conveys ideas and information in a visible form, often resulting in better personal resonance (Hansen, 2013). Users can create and share their own works in Tiktok, and users can comment and like each other. Such widespread communication and communication reduce the sense of distance between the public. Besides that, Tiktok’s fast broadcasting mode, precise communication subject and follow-up interactive experience are also important reasons for its revolutionary impact on the social and cultural world.
Figure 3. “Musical.ly and Tiktok. Turn potential competitors into partners”. By September 10, 2019. https://lakesstudentmedia.com/11043/ae/games-technology/evolution-of-tik-tok/
Who owns Tiktok?
Tiktok is the brainchild of a young Chinese entrepreneur, Zhang Yiming. In 2013, he was listed in Forbes’ “China’s 30 Entrepreneurs under the Age of 30” and Fortune’s “China’s 40 Business Elites Under the age of 40”, making him one of the most watched young leaders in China’s domestic Internet industry (Forbes, 2013). According to Tiktok officials, it has 500 million monthly active users worldwide. It’s clear that Tiktok has become a social media phenomenon and even a cultural phenomenon on a global scale. Tiktok’s success is tied to its business model. Tiktok initially invested a lot of manpower and financial resources in advertising to promote consumers, and in a short period of time quickly increased consumers’ awareness of the “Tiktok” brand (Joni, 2017). According to the data, only 9 percent of Internet users in the United States have used TikTok, and 5 percent of them are interested in TikTok. For teenagers, the figure rises to 49 percent. This suggests that Tiktok’s original value proposition was aimed at the younger generation. Such a core value proposition is conducive to the enjoyment of young users and always brings potential business value. In addition, TikTok takes full advantage of users’ fragmentation time, which significantly reduces users’ time cost. Combined with its algorithmic recommendations, the average amount of time spent on Tiktok per use is also on the rise (Cheng Zhao, 2019).
Figure 4. “The owner of Tiktok, a unique entrepreneur —- YiMing Zhang”. By Cai Wei, Wang. August 3, 2020. https://pandaily.com/exclusive-official-english-version-of-bytedance-founder-zhang-yimings-all-staff-letter/
Tiktok’s partners and competitors.
In less than 18 months, the app has grown 5.5 times its adult user base in the United States, with nearly 60 million active monthly users in the country (Barian, 2020). These figures speak volumes about how Tiktok is rapidly coming to dominate social media as one of the most popular and addictive social networks today, Tiktok officially merged with Musical.ly in August 2018 and migrated its users’ accounts to their Tiktok accounts. The public regards Tiktok’s acquisition of potential competitors and turning them into partners as a strategic victory and an effective way to enter the US market. On top of that, Tiktok’s user growth was so rapid that it caught Facebook’s attention. Facebook developed a short music video program called Lasso to compete with Tiktok in 2018 and prevent its massive growth (Josh, 2018). Except Facebook, Tiktok’s three main competitors are Likee, Byte and Triller. In any case, Tiktok remains in the top 10 for iPhone downloads, and there are no obvious alternatives or strong enough competitors for Tiktok. At the same time, as the scale and influence of short videos continue to increase, who will supervise Tiktok has also become a topic of discussion. The supervision of Tiktok’s dissemination content includes government supervision and platform internal supervision. It is the basic problem that Tiktok faces to seek a regulatory balance between strict government supervision and platform content diversification (Li Xu, 2019). Although Tiktok was originally a short video social platform for young people, it relies on the technical advantages of intelligent algorithms to still attract users of almost every age group. Tiktok increases the stickiness of users by pushing content that may be of interest to users. In addition to ordinary users, Tiktok also attracts many KOLs (Key Opinion Leader). They can use the Tiktok platform to increase their purchasing influence through more product information. Therefore, the users of Tiktok are no longer just young people.
Figure 5. Users of Tiktok and the main competitors of Tiktok.
How does Tiktok innovate in all aspects of our lives?
Tiktok has changed the public’s use and understanding of the Internet through innovation. For example, Tiktok uses the UGC model, with the characteristics of everyone being the center and creator, so that people with common characteristics form a community (Yan Zhang, 2018). At the same time, by following each other to break the monopoly of fans by celebrities and other public figures, this is also the driving force for the public to continue to innovate. Although Tiktok has achieved great results in terms of the amount of content and operating mode, it has attracted hundreds of millions of users. Tiktok also changed the way people communicate. On the Tiktok social platform, users can find cultural groups that share their own interests. They gather together because of common interests and hobbies, forming a higher cultural identity. This will give users a sense of group belonging. In addition, people have achieved equal communication and dialogue on the Tiktok platform, breaking the limitations of identity and occupation in reality. Besides that, Tiktok has changed the way the public connects with current affairs and politics. As Tiktok has become an important tool for netizens to obtain information and entertainment and social interaction, many mainstream news media have settled on the Tiktok platform in order to cater to the fragmented reading habits and audio-visual needs of the audience to seek integration and development, so as to improve their own communication power and at the same time achieve mainstream value spread (Mengyuan, 2019). Mainstream news media can rely on Tiktok to expand their dissemination coverage, and the dissemination content can quickly reach the young group, so as to strengthen the communication and interaction with the young group. Besdies that, Tiktok played a huge role during COVID-19, and the government took full advantage of Tiktok to spread the severity of the epidemic widely. The public can also be informed of the development of the epidemic as soon as possible. Hence, Tiktok has really changed the way people connect politically. However, Tiktok is a platform that uses UGC as the source of content production, the spread of the virus has resulted in a lack of norms for diverse content and a lack of targeted guidance for complex user structures (Cheng Zhao, 2019). These have gradually exposed problems of Tiktok in content supervision and network ethics. Although various government organizations have increased the supervision of short videos, the virtual nature of the network and the entertainment of the content have undoubtedly increased the difficulty of content supervision. In addition, Tiktok’s algorithm is also controversial. it through the collection, sorting and analysis of user data information and other algorithm settings, to push users may be interested in content, so as to arouse the resonance of users. Recently, Tiktok’s algorithm has been pointed out that it infringes user privacy. Tiktok can access text and images that users cut and paste on their devices, whether it’s a harmless shopping list or a sensitive password (The Associated Press, 2020). Although Tiktok said that it will disable this feature on the IOS system in the future, this still caused panic among users. India’s regulatory response to this problem has been to opt out of Tiktok, although the move is controversial. Therefore, the regulatory procedures for Tiktok have not yet matured, and there may be new regulatory procedures for it in the future.
In conclusion, Tiktok has changed the way people connect with each other, and it has undoubtedly become part of the Internet. On tiktok, users can find like-minded cultural groups. They gather together because of their common interests and hobbies, forming a higher cultural identity. This creates a sense of community. In addition, people realize equal communication and dialogue on tiktok platform, breaking the restrictions of other factors such as identity and occupation in reality. These phenomena also indicate that Tiktok has changed us in terms of entertainment, life and so on.
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