• December 4, 2023

What Is TikTok? A Closer Look at This Popular Social Media Platform

Updated at


Tiktok app
Source: unsplash

Currently, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are the top social media platforms with the most monthly active users (MAUs). But there’s a new contender. And it’s TikTok! Despite only being launched in the international market in 2017, TikTok now has over 1 billion MAUs. TikTok even surpassed Google as the most popular website in 2021.

With TikTok’s amazing growth, everyone is getting curious and asking what is TikTok all about. To give you an overview, TikTok is a social media platform similar to YouTube. But instead of long-form videos, it focuses on short-form video content. 

The popularity of short-form videos gradually increased during the Vine era, which began in 2013. Remember Vine’s 6-second lip-syncing clips? Although Vine is no longer around, short-form video content truly took off when TikTok entered the scene. 

Noticing TikTok’s success in the short-form video format, social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube tapped into the trend. They introduced their own versions, such as Reels and Shorts.

To learn more about what is TikTok, this article will cover everything you need to know about this trending social media platform.

What Is TikTok? An Overview

What Is TikTok
What Is TikTok? (Image Source)

TikTok rose to popularity as a social media platform that allowed users to upload 60-second short-form videos. But in response to user requests, the platform has expanded its video length limit to 10 minutes. Aside from videos, TikTok now supports text posts, single images, and photo slides, making the platform a more versatile and dynamic space for creative expression.

Because of TikTok’s diverse content formats, creativity, and trends, this platform has appealed to both teens and adults. However, prior to TikTok’s worldwide popularity, it encountered difficulties gaining momentum upon its 2017 international debut. But this changed with the merger of TikTok and Musical.ly.

The TikTok and Musical.ly Merger Explained

Tiktok merged with musically
Tiktok merged with musically

Contrary to some articles suggesting that TikTok was formerly Musical.ly, the timeline reveals a different story. Musical.ly was a video-sharing social media app similar to Vine, focusing on lip-syncing trends. It was created in 2014 by Chinese entrepreneurs Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang.

Meanwhile, TikTok, known as Douyin in China, was established in 2016 and owned by ByteDance. Douyin was then introduced as “TikTok” on the international scene in September 2017.

ByteDance then acquired Musical.ly in November 2017, a few months after TikTok’s international launch. The Musical.ly app continued to operate independently until August 2018. Therefore, it would be inaccurate to say that TikTok was formerly Musical.ly, as both apps coexisted for a period.

To strengthen TikTok’s user base globally, ByteDance decided to shut down Musical.ly in 2018 and integrate its features and users into TikTok. This strategic merger proved successful, significantly contributing to TikTok’s growth.

TikTok Facts and Stats You Need to Know

Ever since the merger with Musical.ly and with TikTok’s aggressive marketing, this social media app achieved several milestones, such as the following:

As of October 2023, Statista conducted a survey of various social networks, encompassing not just social media platforms but also messenger, chat, and VoIP apps. See the chart below:

most popular social media networks
most popular social media networks (October 2023)

Based on the chart, TikTok secured the 6th position overall. However, if you exclude WhatsApp and WeChat due to their messaging app nature, TikTok climbs to the 4th position. Given its global launch in 2017, TikTok has experienced significant growth, surpassing the popularity of its predecessors, such as Snapchat, X (Twitter), and Pinterest.

The United States is TikTok’s top global audience

You might assume that TikTok has low usage in the United States due to the government’s efforts to ban the app — but the US citizens don’t think the same. In fact, TikTok’s top users are coming from the US, accounting for 143.4 million users as of October 2023.

countries with the largest tiktok audience

TikTok is Gen Zs favorite social media app

Before, Gen Zs were into Snapchat. But TikTok has now dethroned Snapchat from being Gen Z’s favorite social media app in 2023. According to a survey, 76% of Gen Zs are using TikTok, with YouTube taking second place and Instagram coming in third.

Both the younger generation and adults like TikTok

According to statistics, 37.3% of individuals aged 18-24, representing the younger generation, are active on TikTok. A closely trailing demographic includes 32.9% of individuals aged 25-34. Considering that both age ranges fall within the adult category, it can be concluded that TikTok is predominantly used by 70.2% of adults.

TikTok is the most engaging social media platform

When it comes to engagement rates, TikTok takes the lead with an impressive 4.25%, surpassing Instagram in second place with only 0.60% and leaving Facebook in third with a distant 0.15%.

TikTok made me buy it

You’ve probably heard people around you talking about why and where they get their new stuff. It’s usually because they spot it on TikTok, leading to the whole “TikTok made me buy it” trend. Fun fact: 50% of TikTok users end up buying something after watching a TikTok Live.

Tiktok made me buy it trend

More than 5 million US businesses are on TikTok

As reported by TikTok’s newsroom, the platform has become increasingly integral for businesses in the United States. Currently, there are over 5 million businesses in the US that utilize the platform.

Over 15 million Southeast Asian businesses use TikTok

TikTok in Southeast Asia isn’t just for fun and dancing anymore. Now, it’s a hotspot for serious biz, with a whopping 15 million-plus businesses jumping on board. The platform has shifted from pure entertainment to a game-changer for businesses across the region, influencing their strategies and operations in a big way.

TikTok has gained immense popularity and achieved numerous milestones thanks to its excellent features. Here are some of the reasons why it has become a favorite for individuals, creators, and businesses alike:

Supports different content formats

As mentioned before, TikTok isn’t limited to just video content. You can also share text and images, and you even have the option to add a soundtrack to enhance your posts.

With a vast music library

The app features a vast music library, allowing users to soundtrack their videos with popular songs or audio snippets from their favorite singers, artists, or celebrities.

Tiktok music library in different categories

Lots of creative tools

Even if you’re not a pro at creating content, TikTok’s creative tools make your text, images, and videos look top-notch. TikTok is equipped with unique filters, effects, templates, and editing features that you can use for free.

User-friendly interface

Have you noticed older folks on TikTok having a blast posting and editing their own vids? Thanks to TikTok’s user-friendly interface, people of all ages can navigate the platform without any tech hassles.

For You page

Another distinctive feature of TikTok is its “For You” page. It’s an algorithm-driven feed that curates content tailored to users’ preferences for easier content discovery!

TikTok Live

TikTok Live offers users the opportunity to conduct livestreams. Livestreaming not only fosters a stronger connection with your audience but also provides a means to convert virtual gifts into monetary value.

TikTok Shop

Aside from being a social media platform, TikTok now offers an e-commerce feature known as TikTok Shop. This integrated marketplace operates within the TikTok app itself. You can find it at the bottom of the page next to the “Home” button. However, TikTok Shop is currently only accessible in the US, UK, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Tiktok shop

Should You Use TikTok for Your Business?

If you have the resources and the extra staff to manage your business’s TikTok account, why not? 

Based on a poll, small and midsize businesses see a 50% increase in income when they start selling and promoting their products and services on TikTok. For content creators, an impressive 80% have affirmed that TikTok has significantly elevated their earnings through the platform.

Frankensons Pizzeria TikTok Success Story

One of the most popular TikTok success stories is about the Frankensons Pizzeria. Frankensons was once a struggling family-owned restaurant in Las Vegas. With nothing to lose, they mustered their courage to contact TikToker Keith Lee for assistance in critiquing their menu. After Lee’s impactful food review on TikTok, Frankensons experienced a surge in enthusiastic customers the very next day. From the verge of closing down, Frankensons now has regular customers coming in and is continuing to leverage TikTok to market their business.

Enchanted Scrunch TikTok Success Story

TikTok not only contributes to the success of brick-and-mortar businesses but is also a valuable platform for e-commerce sellers. Take, for instance, the story of Enchanted Scrunch. Dasha, the 14-year-old founder, initially marketed her scrunchies on Instagram, but the platform only provided her with 2 orders per week. However, when she used TikTok for promotion, her weekly orders surged to an impressive 500! Just to be clear, Dasha’s initial TikTok posts didn’t immediately go viral. Yet, after consistent efforts over two months on TikTok, she began to witness significant results. Today, 90% of her sales come from TikTok, transforming her scrunchie brand into a six-figure business.

POPFLEX Active TikTok Success Story

TikTok also serves as a great jumpstart for creators or social media influencers in their e-commerce ventures. If you enjoy watching fitness videos, perhaps Cassey Ho has appeared on your social media feed. She is an influencer and content creator who shares workout tips. Eventually, she decided to launch her apparel brand, POPFLEX Active, which sells gym clothing and accessories, such as jackets, leggings, hoodies, bras, skorts, and bags. Despite promoting POPFLEX Active on various social media accounts, TikTok was the platform that provided the most traction for her apparel brand. Today, her POPFLEX Active TikTok account has accumulated over 200,000 followers and received more than 5 million likes!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.  What is TikTok used for?

TikTok serves as a platform for crafting, sharing, and exploring short-form video content. Depending on your goals, it can be utilized to share personal stories, showcase creativity, express views, or promote business endeavors.

2. What can I post on TikTok?

Anything can be posted on TikTok. It can be about your personal life, hobbies and interests, or business ventures. However, you must always follow TikTok’s community guidelines to prevent your account from being banned. Read TikTok’s community guidelines here.

3.  Can you make money on TikTok?

Yes, you can make money on TikTok in several ways. You can use the platform to market and sell your products by listing them on TikTok Shop. TikTok also supports affiliate selling and dropshipping. Another method involves receiving virtual gifts during your TikTok Live sessions, which can be converted into cash. If you’re a TikToker with thousands or millions of followers, monetizing through brand partnerships and sponsorships is another viable option.

4. How can I achieve success on TikTok?

Attaining success on TikTok goes beyond the hype of a viral video. It’s unwise to rely solely on virality. For a more strategic approach to TikTok success, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Craft engaging content.
  • Maintain a consistent posting schedule.
  • Actively engage and connect with your audience.
  • Cross-promote your TikTok content on other social media platforms.
  • Explore the option of creating TikTok ads for broader visibility and reach.


In a nutshell, TikTok is a lively social media platform designed for short videos. It offers a diverse space for people to share entertaining, educational, or informative content. However, TikTok is not merely about fun and games. TikTok has evolved into a platform that opens doors for various business opportunities.

To capitalize on TikTok’s money-making potential, one effective avenue that requires minimal capital is dropshipping. Dropshipping is a retail model where a business sells products without maintaining physical inventory. When a sale occurs, the product is purchased from a third party and shipped directly to the customer. For a trustworthy dropshipping supplier, team up with Sup Dropshipping. 

Integrating Sup Dropshipping with your TikTok seller account is straightforward. Just follow the steps provided in our “How to Connect TikTok Shop with SUP” article, and you’re all set to dropship! If you need further information, feel free to get in touch with us.

About the Author

Jack Han
Jack Han

Jack is a SEO manager and blog writer at Sup Dropshipping. He holds an MA in Linguistics and Education. He has got over 10 years experience in E-commerce, and 5 years of experience in SEO. Jack is an enthusiast to share his recent knowledge learnt from peer experts in the industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Start your dropshipping business with SUP