What is TikTok?

If you haven’t joined the TikTok community yet, you might as well jump on the bandwagon now. The Chinese video-sharing networking service is the number one downloaded app of 2020, with over 2 billion downloads on the App Store and Google Play. Founded in 2012 by an internet technology company, ByteDance Ltd., TikTok is led by Chinese entrepreneur, Zhang Yiming. 

The one thing you may realize after using the popular app, is that it is extremely difficult to put down. TikTok’s “For You” page is designed to be filled with content that you are specifically interested in. So whether you like dance choreography, singing, comedy, sports, cooking, or even just talking about life in general, the app will suck you into the screen for a good portion of your day. The cool part about it is that if you have a really big followership, those people are looking for you to be creative and keep them entertained. The video-sharing app allows users to upload 15 second videos that they can share with the entire world. Once your video is uploaded, it will be dispersed into millions of people’s “For You” page to watch and share with others. The application makes it extremely easy for users to record, apply affects, and keep up with the trends that are popular in the TikTok world. The difficult part is keeping up with interesting, original, and creative content that users will enjoy watching and even replicating themselves. 

TikTok has certainly turned into more of a generational bellwether than it is an application. With 41% of TikTok’s users aged between 16 and 24, Millennials and Gen Zers have leveraged every inch of the app’s viewership to develop a brand image for themselves. The lives of social media celebrities such as Charli D’amelio and Addison Rae Easterling drastically changed once they joined the video sharing platform. A year ago, Addison Rae, the 19-year-old college student, was living in her freshman dorm at Louisiana State University, making TikToks of herself dancing and lip syncing to popular songs. Soon after she hit a million fans, Easterling was getting recognized on campus and students were asking to get their picture taken with her. A year later, Easterling has 55 million followers on TikTok and has reportedly made nearly $5 million just this past year. How could these teenagers be making the salary of some professional athletes by creating a 15-60 second video of themselves dancing? For many, it is not just a dance; it’s a lifestyle. Corporations all over the world have used celebrities like Addison Rae and Charli to advertise their products or services to the 500 million daily active members that use the app. Addison Rae and other influencers are making around $20,000 for each TikTok they post for having a company’s brand name or product on the screen. 

The TikTok world has also allowed these influencers to start their own side-careers by supporting them in every direction. Addison Rae and her mother, Sheri Easterling, started a podcast on Spotify called “Mama Knows Best.” In addition, Charli’s older sister, Dixie D’amelio, released her first single, “Be Happy,” which became the number one trending video on YouTube. The fact of the matter is, wherever or whatever these social media celebrities are doing, the entire TikTok community is watching. 

ByteDance recently passed Uber as the world’s most valuable startup having a valuation of about $75 billion. You may have heard that the Chinese company is looking to sell its prized possession and you are right. Due to national security concerns, President Donald Trump is using his executive power to ban TikTok in the United States. As a result, companies such as Microsoft and Twitter have been in talks with ByteDance to acquire its most valuable asset. What will these teenage icons do without the video-sharing app if no deal comes to fruition? Given their seemingly unlimited creative abilities, I’m sure they’ll figure it out.