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TikTok and The History of Trendy Sites

Ever since technology has taken over our lives, it seems as if there is always some new app that everyone is obsessed with. When social media first hit the scene, it was Facebook who took the cake. And now, in 2019, more viral apps are popping up than ever.

Some of the most popular social media apps right now include Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, which are considered must-haves. However, there are other apps such as TikTok and VSCO that also are receiving high levels of attention. This is occurring despite the fact that they were originally created around the same time as Snapchat and Instagram — apps that are considered “veterans” in the social media world.

Image Credit: Saulo Mohana

There are also apps that were popular only for a short time, such as Vine and MySpace. Interestingly enough, there was a time where MySpace was the largest social networking site in the world. It was even the most visited website in America in 2006. After peaking at $12 billion in 2007, however, MySpace only had 1,600 employees by 2009. The website rapidly fell from grace, becoming a social media wasteland compared to its past status as an industry giant. 

How is it that apps lose and gain popularity so quickly? How do apps like TikTok grow to be so popular overnight?

Vine originally popularized making and watching short videos. Musical.ly was then created as Vine began to fade away due to monetary struggles. Musical.ly not only adopted the short video structure of Vine, but it also added new features, such as lip syncing. Most content from Vine was well-thought-out and truly entertaining, but compared to Musical.ly, creating content had much lower stakes. So, while there were still Musical.lys that were well thought out and similar to Vines, many were simply people lip-syncing songs. 

Image Credit: Rami Al-zayat

This allowed the pool of creators on Musical.ly to grow exponentially, whereas with Vine, most people consumed content often produced by only a few creators.

Today, TikTok seems to reign supreme. It’s virtually the same as Musical.ly, created by the same owners, but taken even a step further. Along with the modifications Musical.ly made to Vine’s model, TikTok has added camera filters and editing tricks that make creating content even easier and more fun for users. This has made TikTok rapidly popular in a short amount of time, because the number of people that can create content has dramatically increased even from Musical.ly’s time, giving anyone the ability to feel as if they are an active participant in an online community. 

The fact that TikTok has made it easier to create content also adds less pressure to posting. On sites like YouTube, the stakes appear higher to produce higher quality and well thought out videos. However, with TikTok, it has become so easy to lip sync to a popular song, make an edit and just post.

TikTok is just the latest example of a new social media fad that has become rapidly popular in a short amount of time. In general it seems as if viral apps like TikTok are all just doing the same thing: satisfying the desires of the general population at that generational time. TikTok did this by providing social media users with an even more inclusive space than its predecessors to produce content. Similarly, when Facebook was created and rose to popularity, it satisfied people’s generational desires to meet one another, not only in person but online. 

Looked at from this perspective, the recipe to create a viral app seems simple: satisfy the current desire of the greatest population of social media users. The hard part is determining exactly what that desire is, but if you happen to be the lucky one that does, it seems you’re in for a gold mine. 

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Autumn is a junior studying film/television & journalism at Boston University. She is extremely passionate about writing & film, traveling, her family and friends, and telling stories.
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