Why is TikTok Thriving?

Since its launch in 2016, the popularity of TikTok remains on an upward trajectory. Originally led by early Gen Z adopters, it’s become part of the daily media loop we’re all familiar with.

With word of pullbacks from Twitter, Meta, and other media giants, why is TikTok thriving? The downfall of other platforms have seen both audiences and advertiser flock to TikTok but where does this popularity stem from?

Why is TikTok Thriving?

Could the preference of TikTok be a result of its algorithm, it’s freshness or the ability to use non-copyrighted sounds? Is it a combination of all three? To understand why TikTok is thriving I spoke to my Gen-Z cohort.  Here are the results from a questionnaire they completed:

Questionnaire results:

  • 85% of respondents say they believe TikTok content is the most authentic and relevant to their interests over any other platform.
  • 60% of respondents said they enjoy the possibility of their content going viral on TikTok.
  • Almost all respondents say they favour scrolling on TikTok over any other social media platform.
  • 90% of respondents said they feel less pressure using TikTok than other social media platforms.
  • 60% of respondents say that they utilise the editing capabilities within the app and would like to see this feature across other platforms.

There are three clear trends within the results. These include TikTok’s algorithm, it’s in-app editing capabilities, and the perception of authentic behaviour from users. Let’s explore each:

1. The Algorithm

Our survey findings highlighted the strength of TikTok’s algorithm. 85% of respondents believe content on the app speaks to their interests more so than others. This is due to the personalised nature of the algorithm, enabling the platform to adapt with its users, understanding their interests on an individualised level over time.

Other platforms have taken note, altering their own algorithms in attempts to catch up. Instagram for example, made adjustments to their code back in August 2022.  Backlash was swift, with high profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian issuing public statements.

Following these reactions, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram quickly backtracked on the idea of a video focused Instagram. Despite the removal of these changes, Mosseri made it clear this reversal was only temporary and that the platform still continues to search for ways to cater to video content. Once the company feels the technology has improved, their next focus will be the algorithm.

Moving forward, it is clear copying isn’t the route to take. Users want new ideas, unique to each platform. People enjoy the diversity of social media, this should be reflected in each platform.

2. Editing Capabilities

The questionnaire also highlighted that 60% of respondents value the ability to edit within the app, something offered in limited capacity on other social media platforms.

These include the very popular text-to-speech feature, access to an expansive audio library and a user-friendly video editing interface. These editing capabilities have been a part of TikTok since its introduction, becoming valued features for users. The limited offerings across other platforms provide reason for why TikTok is thriving as the go to video platform.

3. Authenticity

Authenticity has been a buzz word when speaking about Gen Z. It’s demonstrated again in this very survey, where 85% of respondents declared it as a reason for their love of TikTok. But what does it mean?

One way authenticity can be viewed is the blend between one’s online and in-person persona. This is echoed by a respondent, who described their behaviour on TikTok as “more comparable to their real-life personality”.

Another measure of user’s authenticity is the degree of pressure they feel when posting. TikTok feels less intimidating when creating content with 90% of respondents feeling less pressure posting here than other platforms. Instagram continues to be a place for curated content with heavy filter usage and portrayals of the ‘dream lifestyle’. On the other side of that we have TikTok which creates communities based on interests, building a safe space for users to be open. This will only continue to grow more personal as people use the app longer and find their community.

That’s why TikTok is thriving, but what does the future look like?

In short, the future of TikTok looks extremely positive. With the current state of the social media industry, remaining top dog puts TikTok in good stead for the future.

Continuous success comes as a result of the platform remaining true to its original purpose, short form video content. Viewed as innovative, the platform has plenty of space to grow.

Will these social media fires pass? Will TikTok continue to thrive or will it fade away with the return of the industry competitors? As long as the users are there, advertisers will continue to come. The combination of both is key to long-term success.