TikTok has taken the internet by storm, with short videos that have the potential to quickly go viral across platforms.
But wait… haven’t we seen this before? That short-lived, Twitter-owned video platform called Vine where people could also quickly go viral with their comedic 6-second videos?
Why did Vine fail while TikTok is still going strong? Will we see yet another fall of an empire once TikTok’s novelty wears off?
A Brief History of TikTok
TikTok is an iOS and Android social media platform for filming, sharing, and watching short videos. The app was launched by ByteDance in China on September 2016.
By September 2017, the app had amassed 100M users and 1B videos viewed every day. In September 2017, TikTok was launched internationally, and as of October 2019 has been downloaded about 80M times in the US (800M worldwide). In November 2017, TikTok merged with its sister company, Musical.ly. This consolidated the two apps into one and massively expanded its user base.
Why are video-sharing platforms so popular?
The developers of these two video-sharing apps understood the audience they were targeting. The target audience has dozens of other things they could be doing other than scrolling through social media, which is why TikTok and Vine were genius from the start.
Attention spans are short, we have other things to do, and we want to consume our information quickly and easily. Vine and TikTok made that easier than ever with both platforms limiting the content length to a matter of seconds.
What makes TikTok different from Vine?
The Vine interface was simple enough. You’d have a bar with buttons for home, search, profile, notifications, and filming. Through the home screen, you’d see videos from people you follow. Through the search screen, you could opt to scroll through two main categories: “Popular Now”, or “On The Rise”. There were also smaller categories to browse just underneath. The notifications and profile screens were pretty self-explanatory.
Through the filming screen, you’d find a simple interface where you’d tap and hold on the camera image, and it would film until you lifted your finger off the screen. Then, you could edit your video with simple tools post-production.
The TikTok interface is more intuitive, which is one of the reasons it became so popular. The menu bar is similar, with the exception being “Notifications” has been changed to “Inbox”.
TikTok’s filming interface differs from Vine in that you can vary your film time up to 60 seconds, add music, layer effects, and tons of other features not possible in Vine. All these features allowed TikTok to give Vine users what they’d been wanting all along – versatility.
Why did Vine fail, but TikTok succeed?
Simple answer: TikTok allows users much more creativity and versatility in-app than Vine ever could.
Watching Vines for hours seems like a golden-age pastime. When it came to creating content, however, Vine fell short. The amount of options TikTok creators have when filming runs circles around the features Vine could offer. Let’s take a look at some of TikTok’s best features:
With Vine, you used to be able to look through their database of music post-production and put sounds over your video. TikTok also has a database of sounds, but these sounds are accessible pre-film and play during filming.
If you record a video without using a TikTok sound, it saves the audio in their database with you as the original owner. The sound file in every TikTok is shown on-screen and can be clicked on to see other videos that have used the same sound, so people who watch a video and want to use the sound (or see other videos using it) can do so. This creates an organization of videos that Vine attempted with their impersonal “Categories” feature but ultimately couldn’t do.
TikTok uses artificial intelligence to recommend videos it determines you may like, and displays them on a “For You” homepage that opens when the app is launched. If you watch a lot of pet videos, you can bet your ‘For You’ page will be filled with cats.
In addition, users can hashtag their videos “#ForYourPage” or “#FYP” in an attempt to end up on other users’ homepage.
Secondly, TikTok does not have “notifications”, but an “Inbox” where you may get notified if someone likes, comments, duets, or follows you. This seems minor, but we’re in the age where you constantly get notifications for every single app in your phone. Having an app where it feels like people are interacting with you through an inbox feels much more personal than just another notification, and you’re much more likely to check it.
Extensive filming and editing in-app is possible mostly due to the editing features available pre-production. Users can set a film speed, add filters, layer effects, and overlay sounds before even filming the video. Further options such as text, stickers, and volume are available post-production. The amount of options makes it convenient to produce content quickly and easily.
A TikTok duet is a video that is placed next to another video, so those videos can be watched simultaneously. This allows users to “react” to other users’ videos through the app, or even add on to those videos. Vine never had this feature.
Everywhere you scroll you’ll see hashtags for “#cosplay”, “#catsoftiktok”, and other communities across the platform. Cosplayers from the same show or movie can duet with each other, or you can find a database of cat videos with a simple click. The sense of community and unity among groups is much stronger in TikTok than it ever was with Vine.
So… why did Vine fail, but TikTok succeed? This has just been a shallow swim in this debate, but we can conclude that it’s mostly because TikTok is a much more personal app than Vine could ever be.
We all loved Vine and mourned its ending, but TikTok is the new kid on the block and is coming up fast with more features, more ease of access, and more community. The amount of options TikTok users can utilize allows for a level of personalization with their content that Vine unfortunately just couldn’t provide.