Since its official takeover of musical.ly on August 2nd, TikTok is growing substantially, making real competition for the western social media stalwarts. Monthly active users of the app have grown from 100 million to more than 130 million in the past three months. Comparing the three months of downloads before the rollover to the three months after, worldwide downloads are up 20% while U.S. downloads are up 25%.
Some of this growth can be attributed to advertising. Looking at Apptopia’s Advertising Intelligence, we can see Bytedance has grown the app’s advertising spend since the rollover and widened its use of different ad networks.
People are opening the app more and more, so much so that Facebook has started building a competitor. About 80% of TikTok’s sessions are from Android devices.
A look at the U.S. market
Snapchat’s worldwide users have declined the past two quarters in a row while Twitter stalled user growth in Q2 2018 and lost users in Q3 2018. Could this be a market ripe for TikTok? In the past six months, TikTok has increased average U.S. DAUs 67% while Snapchat has lost 11%. Looking at user retention in the U.S., we see TikTok beating out Snapchat in recent months, although both are above the Social category average.
When Apptopia talks about engagement, we’re speaking to the relationship between DAU and MAU, which gives us insight into how often active users are opening the app. For example, 100% Engagement rate means users open the app every day while 50% means every other day.
While TikTok might not be on par with the big dogs for user engagement, it has recently surpassed them in U.S. App Store and Google Play rank.
Musical.ly was a top performing social/live streaming app that was acquired by Bytedance for one billion dollars in early August, and eventually transformed into TikTok. If you had Musical.ly on your phone already, it stayed on your phone but morphed into TikTok. For people in China, Japan and other Asian countries, nothing changed as those users have a physically different app.
If you don’t understand this, let me help break it down further. No matter where in the world, if you download Facebook for Android, the app id is com.facebook.katana. Musical.ly’s app id was com.zhiliaoapp.musically which is the same id for TikTok in many countries now. If you are in Japan, the app id is com.ss.android.ugc.trill. This is similar to what many large corporations do, mostly seen in the food and beverage industry. Starbucks and Domino’s both have individually specific apps per each market they are in.
Even though it was by acquisition, TikTok could be the first long term successful social app in the United States owned and operated by an Asian company.