Forget pursuing fame and fortune on YouTube or Instagram: TikTok is the next major video-sharing platform. The app, which sees users share short videos, often based around memes, was downloaded more than 660 million times in 2018 alone – 220 million more times than Instagram. A huge number of those are in India, which is TikTok’s biggest market, with 52 million users – most under the age of 25.
Its stars are beginning to make money from their popularity, breeding a class of working influencers on the platform. Businesses and agencies are cropping up to service advertisers’ needs. But TikTok’s popularity is still on the upswing, making it a prime opportunity for those seeking careers in the industry. “The engagement and reach you’re going to get on this platform is often better than you’re going to get on other platforms – and at a fraction of the cost,” says Josh Shepherd, co-founder of TikTok talent agency Influentially.
It’s also a major cultural accelerant. Take one of the hits of 2019: Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’s song, Old Town Road, was supercharged through The Yeehaw Challenge, a meme where TikTok users recorded themselves dancing along to the song in cowboy clothes. At the Cannes Lions festival, TikTok was fêted by attendees looking to capitalise on its success.