TikTok is still at the top of the social media hierarchy, even in 2022


TikTok is an app that skyrocketed in popularity in 2020. Flash forward to 2022, and the app is still the number one most downloaded in the U.S. Photo by: Kendall Garcia

Kendall Garcia

TikTok has been the most downloaded app for the past three years, but why has the app become so popular?

TikTok is a short-form video sharing app that came from Musical.ly. In 2018, all users’ Musical.ly accounts automatically became TikTok accounts. According to Insider Intelligence, a research company that specializes in digital marketing and trends, TikTok will have over 750 million monthly users worldwide this year.

TikTok has been downloaded by users over three billion times according to Business of Apps, an app that helps people learn about app marketing and skills. There are many reasons why the app has become so popular. One of the main selling points of TikTok is for content creators to be able to film and edit inside the app. When these videos are done correctly, they go viral quickly. TikTok is said to be a more authentic form of social media. In a study done by Search Engine Journal, 64 percent of users say they can be their true selves on TikTok and 53 percent of users say they even trust others to be their true selves on the app. 

Percentage of TikTok users by age the majority being high school aged people from 13-17. Chart by: The Infinite Agency

“I’m not really surprised that [TikTok is] the most downloaded app because I think that’s where a lot of trends form and people want to stay on top of trends,” said Sofia Hallahan ‘23.

TikTok is different from other social media apps. With the app Vine being shut down in 2016, TikTok has become the only social media app that has the main focus of doing short video creation and sharing. The apps “for you page” is a personalized feed of content that analyzes a user’s likes, shares, views and is hyper-personalized to its user. Another feature of TikTok was added in September of 2022 is the TikTok Now feature. This feature is almost identical to BeReal, an app that came out in 2020 and promotes users to post “real” content. Both the apps send one alert throughout the day prompting users to take and upload a picture of what they are doing at that moment. The BeReal app rapidly gained popularity in 2022 which is around the same time “TikTok Now” made its similar feature within the TikTok app. 

Kiera Golden ‘25 said, “My ‘for you page’ is hyper personalized by my likes because there’s a wide variety of things I like on my ‘for you page.’”

Lia Gillam ‘24 said, “[TikTok is] super personalized.”

TikTok reaches more than just the average person. TikTok is also used by businesses such as Target (@target) and Walmart (@walmart). Celebrities are also on TikTok, such as Kim Kardashian (@kimkardashian), and the app even has NFL teams like the Los Angeles Rams (@rams) or the Minnesota Vikings (@vikings). 

The app’s new TikTok Now feature is making users post before viewing other’s posts. The feature launched in September of 2022. Photo by: Kendall Garcia

Users on TikTok have a large selection of audios, special effects and filters to choose from. The app is filled with every topic one can imagine and is even considered to be addictive in a study done by Sophia Petrillo, Brown Undergraduate Journal of Public Health. Petrillo discusses the app’s popularity with teenagers making up one third of all accounts. TikTok addiction is even compared to a gambling addiction. 

“[I believe I’m addicted to TikTok], because I think [that] ever since COVID-19 I have been very attached and I can’t seem to focus on things anymore.” said Golden.