How often users open the TikTok app in a day? Some say more than 30 times. I was surprised at first. Then, I realised they are using the app during the breaks.
“Break time means TikTok time”.
Let’s examine what does it mean for the product.
The ‘explore feed’ needs to change every single time user opens the app. The platform needs to keep the user hooked everytime so they keep coming back. TikTok pushes its best content on the explore feed. You hardly see a video with zero likes on the feed.
The ‘explore feed’ is all about creating an emotional impact and not live content.
TikTok doesn’t deliver breaking news. Instead, it circulates content with high shelf life. There is no date stamp on the content for the users to figure out when the video was posted.
When we look at the comments section, we can understand videos are usually more than a week old (or, they show comments from just last seven days).
If the explore feed only includes best videos, how does new content get visibility?
Similar videos: When the users click on the icon on the right hand side, it summons videos with related audio content in thumbnails. The visual appeal of thumbnail play big role in getting clicks.
Similar videos section is nothing but thumbnails without any additional information.
Follow/Search Tabs: Users can follow people using the red-dot mechanism (see below image).
How does TikTok retain customers?
To answer this we need to understand what’s unique about the platform and what strategic value does it bring to users that other apps/networks don't?
It turns out “similar videos” feature is unique to TikTok. Don’t we all listen to song we love on a loop? That, I think, is the key driver for customer retention.
This love for music makes you visit another user’s profile. If I like more of his videos, I start following the person. Once I become a fan, it’s like I’ve invested too much and cannot quit the platform anytime soon. It can develop to friendship through 1:1 messages, and can even turn into a real-world relationship. But then, most users would largely remain at level #1 engagement—watching lip sync videos repeatedly.
(This post was originally published on the author's Medium account. It has been edited and republished here with the author's permission.)