No one was prepared for what TikTok would become when it was first released in 2018 but in less than four years, it has become the fastest-growing social media app. Since its humble origin in 2017, this bite-sized version of YouTube is centered around short 15-second videos spread across a plethora of categories thanks to TikTok’s vast catalog of sound effects, music snippets, and filters that are available for users to create their content. The idea behind TikTok wasn't revolutionary per se, but it allowed itself to build on the success of popular predecessor apps like Vine and Dubsmash.
TikTok was initially launched in 2017, as Duyin, in China where it still exists as a separate app with an impressive 639.4 million users in China alone. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance Ltd., acquired the popular video-sharing app, Musical.ly, in 2017. Then within a year they incorporated Musical.ly’s core functionality and user base with Duyin and released the new amalgamated app worldwide as TikTok.
According to Reuters, Musical.ly was extremely successful in the Americas and Europe with an estimated 100 million monthly active users, whereas TikTok originally was only dominant in the Asian markets. It meant that the combination of the two did what it was ideally supposed to do, dominate the world not only as the top video-sharing app but also as a social media platform.
As per CNBC, TikTok boasts an impressive user base of over 1 billion monthly active users, which ranks it fourth after Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Given how all the other apps have existed for way longer, it is safe to say TikTok might overthrow them eventually given how fast it is currently growing. Statista reports that TikTok had over 1 billion active users worldwide at the end of 2021, a 45% increase from its last year.
It has been downloaded over 3 billion times, with one billion downloads from Google Play and 1.5 billion downloads from the App Store, where it remains the most downloaded app to date. Statista estimates that active monthly users in the United States alone will reach a predicted 89.7 million by the end of 2023. It is estimated that TikTok earned a revenue of $4.6 billion which is not a surprise as the app enjoys more than one million views every single day.
When you consider TikTok was actually released as an entertainment app, it should not surprise anyone that this is the most popular category on the app. The largest category on TikTok, in terms of views, this genre of videos has left other TikTok categories behind in the dust. It has more than 535 billion views and combines popular hashtags such as comedy, entertainment, duets, magic, skits, and special effects. Just like Pandora’s box, the fun part about this category is that you never know what you’re going to find — and that makes the search all the more addictive.
The dance category is a core part of TikTok’s DNA and identity. Popularized by the likes of the D’amelio sisters, the company has added built-in features that make the app easy for anyone to jump in and participate in any ongoing viral trend or create a trend of their own. The sound clip feature is one of the most compelling draws to get users to participate.
This category is a treasure trove of the good, the bad, and the downright hysterical. You can find everything from basic foot-shuffling to highly choreographed routines done live in this category, with everyone jumping in regardless if they're ‘professionals’ or just people dancing for fun. The #TikTokDance has more than 14.4 billion views with the category itself boasting an impressive 404 billion views.
Even though pranks are widely considered a subsection of the entertainment genre, TikTok’s format makes it fairly easy to settle in and enjoy the tomfoolery of pranks. Despite being a part of another category altogether, this is one of the most popular TikTok categories, with over 263.9 billion views.
Contrary to other social media apps like YouTube where you can find full-fledged workout routines and whatnot, on TikTokYou thanks to its short 15-second window, Athletes and fitness freaks have been offering tips, showing off their moves, creating greater engagement with followers, or just simple flexing. With over 178.7 billion views, according to Statista, apart from just influencers, this genre is scoring big with many professional athletes, and Olympians jumping in on the hype train and posting on the popular app.
Given how many TV shows and sitcoms have been centered around this theme over the past decades, this category was always huge on TV, and on the internet with YouTube being the home for this type of content for a very long time. It’s no surprise that with the shift toward social media, it’s also crushing it there. TikTok provides a great space for creators to share advice, tips, and hacks on how to Do-It-Yourself and so far, billions of viewers have taken note. You’ll find more than 170.7 billion views in this category, and an insane 8.5 billion views on #homeimprovement videos alone.
If there was a genre TikTok was made for, it is beauty and skincare. A natural fit for beauty influencers, thanks to the time frame of the video, it allows them to quickly show the process that takes them from bland to grand at different stages and how they manage to achieve it. There are over 93.3 billion views on videos under the beauty category and over 90.4 billion views on videos using the #skincare.
Another genre that greatly benefits from TikTok's core functionality. There’s no limit to the ways fashion creators showcase content, be it showing off a new look, sharing clothing hauls, or sharing fashion tips and hacks, or just making transitions with different outfits. Fashion is one of the hottest categories with over 145.7 billion views under #fashion alone.
You could be Gordon Ramsay or you could be a home chef, everyone seems to be cooking something ‘great’ on TikTok. Foodies have taken to TikTok to share video recipes, offer simple kitchen hacks, or throw in a fresh twist to a familiar recipe, or you know sometimes show the limit of what abominations can actually pass as food. A very popular category on Tiktok, it has 295.6 billion views to date and it’s clear that audiences have an appetite for this content.
Given TikTok blew up during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a greater need for positivity and uplifting content at the time. This category was one place to find that positivity. Wide a wide array of content ranging from life hacks, encouraging positive comments, to self-care tips and comments on mental health and well-being, this hashtag grew meteorically during the pandemic and boasts an impressive 126 billion views on the #lifehack and #lifehacks.
Coming to the true reason why everybody loves TikTok or social media in general. Cute. Cuddly. Pets. On TikTok, the #pets has surpassed 50.7 billion views, and it’s not always your average house cat or dog who catches the attention: The top TikTok animal influencer is a tiger and the top 20 also include a ferret, gorilla, tortoise, and even a fox.