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06 December 2021 • Resources

TikTok stats (2021): The social network’s users, key figures, and trends

TikTok stats (2021): The social network’s users, key figures, and trends

In 2021, TikTok passed the milestone of 1 billion active users on its platform and 3 billion downloads. The social network created in 2016 is now a global phenomenon. 

Primarily appealing to the younger generation, the video network is conquering other areas and is on its way to becoming the #1 platform. For instance, in France, TikTok joined the list of the 50 most visited sites in September 2021.

Driven by lockdowns around the world, the mobile application is now the most downloaded and has been for several consecutive months.

TikTok Mania is just beginning: discover all the key figures and statistics to decipher TikTok and anticipate tomorrow’s trends.

What is TikTok, the social network sensation?

History of TikTok

Are you familiar with Musical.ly, TikTok’s ancestor? This unique app was founded in China, specifically in Shanghai, in 2014 by entrepreneurs Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang, two long-time friends. The company itself is called Musical.ly Inc.

The story goes that the basic concept of the app was related to learning and education, especially for translating song lyrics into sign language, according to the Musical.ly Wikipedia page.

The use of the application rapidly shifted to dance and singing content: users filmed themselves either to participate in choreographies that went viral or to create short “karaoke” or “lip-sync” videos involving music lyrics or dialogue from movies or comedians.

In 2015, the application was launched in the US, and very quickly, users showed their enthusiasm, especially in terms of longer usage time than on other platforms by teenagers.

Then, 2016 marked the birth of a new application, Douyin, in China, created by the Chinese company Bytedance. One year after its creation, this social network had 100 million users and expanded internationally in 2017 under the name TikTok, but it still remains known as Douyin in China.

In November 2017, Bytedance bought Musical.ly for an estimated $1 billion, though we don’t know the exact figure of this transaction.

Using TikTok is not the same as other networks. The collaborative and instantaneous aspect as well as the various challenges have quickly won over the world.

During 2020 and following the various global lockdowns, the application experienced unprecedented growth.The Guardian highlighted that this rapid growth was driven by the arrival of influencers from other platforms and celebrities on TikTok, thus motivating users to sign up and follow them.

How does TikTok work?

The TikTok social network is based on the sharing of short videos. Although the authorized content was not to exceed a few seconds at the beginning, it’s now possible to share videos of up to 3 minutes long.

Initially, choreography, songs and jokes were popular content and actually the only really successful ones on the platform.

Then, in 2019, the first popular TikTokers started to appear, offering new content. Brands also started on the platform, understanding the challenges of the app.

tiktok presentation

TikTok financial results

According to Business of Apps’ TikTok Report 2021, here are the app's revenues over the past few years:

  • 2017: $63 million
  • 2018: $150 million (+138%)
  • 2019: $350 million (+133.3%)
  • 2020: $1.9 billion (+442.9%)

In terms of growth, TikTok generated a 138% increase in revenue between 2017 and 2018, 133% between 2018 and 2019.

However, the boom was created between the year 2019 and 2020: +442% for the Chinese application, an international explosion that’s just beginning at this key moment.

TikTok: key figures in 2021

1 billion active users in 2021 on TikTok

History: In Q3 2021, Tik Tok broke the mark of one billion users worldwide.

This meteoric rise, however, required a few steps before shattering its record.

As App Annie reports, at the beginning of 2018, the app was still in the early stages of its journey and didn’t have 200 million active users. It took until the third quarter of the same year to finally reach that milestone.

Thus, between the year 2018 and the year 2021, the evolution of the number of subscribers was +400% in 3 years, a feat never before achieved in the universe of social networks.

active users tiktok 2021

To take it a step further, Statista gives us the ranking of the actions preferred by internet users in August 2021.

In first place is the number of videos viewed by TikTok users, at 167 million per minute, ahead of the number of views received by Facebook Live (44 million per minute) and the number of messages sent by iMessage, the iOS messaging service (12 million per minute).

internet user actions august 2021 statista

78% of users are between 11 and 24 years old

However, this trend is changing! Despite the age of TikTok users initially being rather low, with a target of mainly teenagers, the application is in a phase of mutation and is attracting an increasing number of people in the higher age groups.

According to the TikTok report from Business of Apps, which uses data from App Ape, global audiences are broken down as follows in 2021:

  • Under 18: 28
  • 19–29 years old: 35% of the global audience
  • 30–39 years old: 18
  • Over 39 years old: 19%.

Thus, we can see that audiences are diversifying, in favor of “older” people. As an example, let’s take a closer look at the statistics in the US in March 2021, given by Statista.

age distribution users tiktok usa 2021 statista

Although the 10–19 age group is largely represented with 25% of the audience, the next three age groups are in balance with each other, with just over a 20% share for the 20–29, 30–39, and 40–49 age groups

Only the over 50s of the population are below, with an 11% share. The US has the second highest share of global users, just behind India, with 16% of the total number of global users, which sets the tempo for age movements within the platform.

Moreover, the TikTok population exploded in 2021 worldwide with a 38% increase compared to 2020, as shown by Statista.

active user growth worldwide 2020 2021 statista

3 billion downloads of the TikTok application

The TikTok app has been downloaded more than 3 billion times, and that milestone was reached in 2021. In just 3 years, TikTok has established itself as a sensation. The TikTok app is available in 155 countries and 75 languages.

As of October 2021, TikTok is the number one downloaded app on the App Store, the number three on Google Play, but most importantly, the most downloaded app globally, ahead of Instagram, according to Sensor Tower.

top app downloads october 2021 sensortower

India has the most downloads with 611 million, followed by China with 196.6 million and the US with 165 million, based on Alioze statistics.

According to SensorTower, the times when the app was most downloaded were, unsurprisingly, during the first two quarters of 2020, with a peak of 318 million downloads for the first quarter.

tiktok quarterly downloads q2 2021 sensortower

Duration of application use

TikTok being the 9th most used network in the world, according to the ranking of LinkedIn statistics, Twitter statistics, Snapchat statistics, and Pinterest statistics, its daily use dethrones all applications outside the Facebook group (according to Facebook statistics, Instagram statistics, Messenger, Whatsapp) and YouTube.

Although lockdowns in 2020 optimized the time spent on the application by TikTokers, the average is now 48 minutes of browsing the application per day.

In addition, 90% of users open the app at least once a day, and the average open rate is nine times a day, according to Alioze.

In 2019, based on reports from Digiday, FastCompany, and GlobalWebIndex, the average session of a user on TikTok was 5 minutes longer than on Snapchat.

Influencers and TikTok

Statista lists the countries with the most popular TikTokers in 2020, i.e., accounts followed by more than 1,000 subscribers.

The US comes out on top with 12.71% of accounts, ahead of India with 7.77% and Turkey with 2.8%.

tiktok influencers by country 2020 statista

The 10 most followed accounts in the world, according to Insiflow, are the following:

  1. Charli D’Amelio: 127 million followers
  2. Khaby Lame: 117 million
  3. Addison Rae: 85 million
  4. Bella Poarch: 84 million
  5. Zach King: 66 million
  6. Will Smith: 63 million
  7. TikTok: 57.9 million
  8. Dixie D’Amelio: 56 million
  9. Spencer X: 55 million
  10. Loren Gray: 54 million

The most popular interests

In 2020, according to Statista, TikTok subscribers’ interests were mostly concentrated around entertainment, dance, and humorous content, before sports, handmade creations, and beauty.

In 2021, these figures will likely change, depending on the age of users and emerging trends.

most popular tiktok categories 2020 statista

Unlike Instagram, YouTube, or Snapchat, TikTok is a unique platform in that it’s based only on video. None of the other social networks allows such freedom: the algorithm, very open, still allows content creators to offer spontaneous videos, in line with the times, without having to sponsor their posts to have the chance to be visible.

The only condition for a video to work is to have strong and original content. The easiest way to perform on the platform is to be present and interact with your followers.

So, if you want to add TikTok to your marketing strategy, you’ll have to stay on top of the trends and challenges to try to create as much as possible at your level. Unlike other networks that require content creators to create photos and videos using very specific regulations, the creation on TikTok is freer: take advantage of it for your marketing strategy!

In addition, keep in mind that there is no schedule, no specific day to post: TikTok takes care of placing the best videos according to the audiences that may be interested.

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