TikTok 101: How the Video-Sharing Platform Became So Popular

Photo Courtesy: Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images; Logo Courtesy: TikTok

No, TikTok is not a reference to the famous Kesha song. It’s the short-form, video sharing app that Gen Z loves — and it’s taking the world by storm one dance challenge at a time. Back in 2017, ByteDance acquired Musical.ly, an app similar to the modern day TikTok, for a whopping $1 billion and decided to merge the two similar platforms. This investment more than paid off for the company. According to a March 2020 report from Sensor Tower, TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times worldwide. In March alone, the app saw 115 million downloads.

Despite the app’s rapid rise, plenty of non-Gen Z folks don’t really know what it’s all about. For millennials, TikTok might most closely align with Vine (R.I.P.), a video sharing app that challenged users to make content in seven seconds or less. When TikTok first started to gain steam, it was often described as a lip-syncing app, like some sort of karaoke meets the "Lip Sync for Your Life" segment from RuPaul’s Drag Race. But neither of those comparisons quite capture the breadth of the video sharing app, which has wholly embraced internet culture as a way to create content that’s satisfying, addictive and interrelated.