May, 2021 

Built for mobile, TikTok’s bite-sized video content has people all over America glued to their handheld screens—about 46 minutes a day per average user. In an industry that measures success by captured attention, TikTok is winning. Each session a user spends on TikTok averages 294 seconds. This puts TikTok ahead of Facebook at 208, Instagram at 144, Twitter at 114, and Snapchat at 80. And in that time, TikTok users will have seen around 200 short videos, pausing to watch what interest them for 15-30 seconds (the length of the entire video).

How did this happen? How did TikTok become the premiere social media app in just 4 short years?

First, TikTok created the best tools to edit short videos on a mobile device. The interface is intuitive and the tool set, though simple, is powerful and includes a huge music library. Many creators use TikTok to edit their videos for other platforms as well. And TikTok videos must be posted to be exported. The app also watermarks them so when they’re shared on other apps, the videos clearly show their origin. This means creators and influencers on Instagram and YouTube are driving traffic back to TikTok, whether they intend to or not.

Another smart thing that TikTok does is value influential creators, providing them with high level support, 1-1 demos, and live events to encourage collaboration in the form of one creator “stitching” or “dueting” their video with another creator’s content. TikTok actively recruited creators from YouTube and Instagram and helped them quickly build social capital on the app.

What’s next for TikTok? Look for them in new consumer product releases complete with an ecommerce integration, donation stickers for tipping creators, and a self-serve ad manager (the biggest missing piece for small, local advertisers).

 It only took TikTok 4 years to become the most popular and influential social media app in the world. It’s worth paying attention to what they do next.


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