Last Updated 3 weeks by Emily Standley-Allard
The other day I wanted to know something fast and instead of ‘googling’ it and scrolling through top headlines as I normally do, I went straight to TikTok. Yep, I’ve become one of those people. Google has long reigned as the dominant search engine, processing an unbelievable number of about two trillion searches every year.
It comes as no surprise that it has been the most viewed website on the planet for most of the last 15 years. But the tides have shifted, and now it appears that TikTok has beat Google as the world’s most popular website.
Why is TikTok Beating Google?
Another reason why people look up information in non-traditional search engines like TikTok is that they’re not satisfied with Google’s results.
A top reply to the viral tweet suggests the quality of Google results isn’t what it used to be:
“Omg Google used to be so powerful but is so pointless now. Useful results are buried pages deep. 95% of the answers they put in the drop-down menus at the top of search results are flat out just wrong, often not even related to the question being asked.”
It also comes down to learning styles, as some individuals retain information better when presented in a visual format.
And while users can get visual and textual information on Google, as one Twitter user points out, it requires looking at several pieces of content to get what you need.
This is the story of how TikTok went from absolutely nothing to the platform that would dethrone Google’s position as the world’s most visited website in just five years.
This article will include:
- TikTok’s Growth as a Timeline
- How TikTok Is Taking Over The World
- TikTok’s Secrets of Success
- Conclusion: What Can We Learn?
We’ll start off with a very basic timeline of TikTok’s growth — from its launch to the world’s most popular website.
Then, we’ll learn about why TikTok is so popular, and what makes it so special.
TikTok’s Growth as A Timeline
Picture this: The year is 2016, and TikTok had just been released by the Chinese startup company ByteDance.
Little did anyone know that in just a couple of years, TikTok would overtake Google as the world’s most popular website.
Read on to discover what can happen in just five years.
- ByteDance launches Douyin in Beijing, China
- ByteDance introduces Douyin outside of China and to the rest of the world under the name of TikTok
- ByteDance buys Musical.ly for a disclosed price, however, a report from the Wall Street Journal believes the deal was worth US $800 million — $1 billion.
- Musical.ly and TikTok merge, transferring all Musical.ly accounts to TikTok
- TikTok officially has more downloads than Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube
- TikTok achieves one billion downloads on the App Store and Google Play
- The app was quickly gaining popularity in India, eventually becoming the most downloaded app in India (on the Android platform)
- TikTok Crosses 2 Billion Downloads
- TikTok ranked seventh among the ten most-visited websites, placing behind 6. Amazon, 5. Netflix, 4. Apple, 3. Microsoft, 2. Facebook, and the world’s most used search engine and visited website since 2010, 1. Google.
- According to IT security company Cloudfare, TikTok surpasses Google as the most popular site (continue reading to figure out how!)
How TikTok Is Taking Over The World
As seen on the timeline from before, TikTok placed seventh among the ten most popular websites of 2020.
Here’s what new data from Cloudfare claims to have been the standings in late 2021.
Not only has TikTok managed to surpass Google and every other social media platform on the planet, but it’s even beginning to become more used than Google’s vast line of services, such as Gmail and Google Maps.
TikTok isn’t just taking over the world, it’s taking over our kids. I barely know any children who don’t have the app, do you?
Well, according to user data from the Jiminy Parental Awareness App (an app that tracks kids’ phones), 70% of girls and 47% of boys aged 10–11 are on the TikTok platform.
TikTok offers a few ways for parents to manage kids’ accounts.
You can either enable time limits and the content filter on your kid’s phone and protect the settings with a passcode, or you can download TikTok, create your own account, and use the Family Pairing feature to manage your kid’s TikTok settings using your phone.
(If you choose Family Pairing, you’ll need your kid’s phone to sync the settings.)
TikTok’s Secrets of Success
This part will include:
- Why TikTok is So Popular
- Why TikTok is So Addictive
- Why TikTok is So Successful
Why TikTok Is So Popular
A study from the Search Engine Journal has the answers.
It’s honest: People believe they can be who they really are on TikTok, which could be a factor in the social network’s soaring popularity.
“64% of users say they can be their true selves on TikTok.”
It makes users happy: Many people feel happy while watching videos on TikTok, myself included. Scrolling through TikTok never fails to make me laugh.
“An average of 31% of TikTok users included “lifting my spirits” as one of the top three reasons for returning to the TikTok platform again and again.”
It’s different: TikTok stands out from other social media apps as a way to find fresh stuff.
“85% of users discover new content that they enjoy through the TikTok platform.”
Why TikTok Is So Addictive
According to Backlinko, the average TikTok user spends 52 minutes a day on the platform. This is because of TikTok’s AI-driven algorithmic personalization. Let’s find out what that actually means.
To keep it simple, TikTok uses a recommendation system.
Recommendations are quite literally the lifeblood of the social networking site. You don’t need to search for what you want to watch thanks to the app’s incredible recommending engine.
Here’s how TikTok explained its recommendation system.
“The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors — starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in, too.”
Why TikTok Is So Successful
There’s no doubt that TikTok is dominating the social media market. TikTok content isn’t even just found on the app itself anymore — it’s found everywhere you go.
The site’s content expands outside the platform, with videos being shared on a variety of other social media networks.
Out of all the social media platforms out there, I find myself using Twitter the most, yet even there I find people reposting videos from TikTok all the time.
How on earth did this app manage to reach such a high level of success?
Obviously, there are tons of reasons, but here’s one that I believe could be the biggest factor why.
TikTok succeeded because Vine succeeded.
In case you don’t know what Vine was, it was a social networking platform for short-form content, (up to six seconds a video, to be exact).
Sounds a lot like TikTok doesn’t it? The success of Vine proved the model works, which ByteDance used to their advantage.
Conclusion: What Can We Learn From TikTok?
TikTok has only been around for a bit more than five years now, yet it managed to get ahead of the world’s most popular search engine, which has been around for a whopping twenty-three years!
The story of TikTok proves that sometimes you need to see threats ahead of time before it’s too late.
Many businesses may operate on the belief that their prime competition is only what they can see right before their eyes, but now we know that success involves looking into the past as well as the future.
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