Strange Challenges, Memes, and Billions of Short Videos: Why Did TikTok Become So Popular?

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Strange Challenges, Memes, and Billions of Short Videos: Why Did TikTok Become So Popular?

Something lasts forever, like a pleasant evening in elite society, receiving casino bonuses in Canada, and something trendy like TikTok. One way or another, now this is the new Vine and Instagram in one – there is no getting away from this Chinese-made machine. We will tell you what kind of social network it is and where it came from.

How It All Began

In the fall of 2016, the Douyin short video app appeared on the Chinese market. A year later, it had 100 million users. In parallel, another entertainment application, also from Chinese founders,, was gaining popularity in the western market. It looked strange: schoolgirls sing lip-sync to popular songs. It would seem, who might be interested in this? It turned out that many: in 2017, the application was already at the top of Google and the App Store.

Watching the success of, Douyin founder and Chinese entrepreneur and programmer Zhang Yiming, decided it was time to bring the app to the international market, and launched TikTok in September 2017. 

The application still has two versions: the global TikTok and the Chinese Douyin (1.2 billion and 250 million users, respectively). The main difference is that Douyin’s servers are located in China, and the app’s content is moderated according to government censorship rules. Both services are owned by China’s ByteDance, the world’s largest privately held technology company that owns news aggregator Toutiao and various applications and is valued at $ 75 billion.

The TikTok Phenomenon

If artificial intelligence were given the task of coming up with the most engaging content for teens, it would have come up with TikTok. Social media content – dynamic short videos with music and effects. A kind of a hybrid of YouTube and Instagram on steroids, which instantly grabs your attention. The application has a feed of subscriptions and a feed of recommendations, which account for 80% of views. The next tab contains popular hashtags and challenges. To create content, the application has a full-fledged video editor with a huge number of effects, masks, transitions, and filters.

The key features of TikTok are challenges. These are flash mobs in which users repeat a certain movement or dance. The recommendation algorithms in the application are very democratic: you can get into trends no matter how many subscribers you have. Challenges allow you to get more coverage and feel like a part of the community.

By turning music into memes, TikTok is changing the landscape of the music industry. Labels react painfully to this – after all, any Internet service that popularizes new music, at the same time, makes money on it. Now labels are selling TikTok the rights to use their songs dozens of times more than they used to.

TikTok has done a seemingly incredible thing – created a new niche in social media, where there is already Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and a bunch of other platforms for sharing entertainment content. It has become a new cozy haven for young people who do not want to sit on social networks with their parents. TikTok is a territory of total freedom, entertainment, and frenzy. There are no politicians and brands, no ads and toxic content – only positive, dancing, music, and jokes. This makes it incomprehensible to adults and at the same time the ideal social network for teenagers.

TikTok has given a powerful tool to creative people. It allows you to create a complex video on your smartphone with a few taps. Although half of the videos in it were filmed against the backdrop of home carpets, this is the best evidence that TikTok’s product managers did everything right. TikTok has become a popular app without exaggeration.

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Pop Culture BeastStrange Challenges, Memes, and Billions of Short Videos: Why Did TikTok Become So Popular?