TikTok, known as Douyin in its home market, was launched in China in September 2016. It was pushed out globally as TikTok the following year.


The TikTok app allows users to create 15 second videos, soundtracked by music clips. Sounds simple enough, but it’s a wildly popular concept. Depending on who you ask, the app was the world’s second-most or fourth-most downloaded non-gaming app of 2019 (only behind various Facebook entities in either case). By 2020, it was comfortably number one.

TikTok/Douyin parent company ByteDance also owns hugely popular Chinese AI-powered news aggregation platform Toutiao, created by CEO Zhang Yiming at the age of 29 in 2012. Notably, he was not backed by either Alibaba or Tencent. TikTok has succeeded where the latter failed with WeChat – success beyond China.

This was a strategic triumph. In November 2017 ByteDance acquired the popular (also China-based) would-be rival app Musical.ly app for a reported $1 billion. TikTok was merged with Musical.ly in August 2018, with app users’ accounts migrated to their TikTok accounts. This was seen as a way for the Chinese app to enter the US market – with Musical.ly already boasting a considerable American audience.

TikTok/Douyin (and formerly Musical.ly) users use the app largely to create, share, and view content based around lip syncing, dancing, comedy skits, and other physical activities. Clearly, this is something that appeals to young people (and quite a few older ones) around the world, with app snowballing in popularity over 2018 and 2019. Despite only being released in 2016, it was one of the most-downloaded apps of the 2010s.

As of 2021, TikTok is one of the world’s best-loved apps (for those under a certain age at least), its success powered by some of the world’s most sophisticated AI.

That said, it has not been without its controversies. In 2019, it was briefly banned in India for “morality issues”, with pornographic content and predatory behaviour a concern. It has been accused of not adequately safeguarding young users’ data. It was banned again in June 2020alongside a spate of other Chinese-based apps as tensions between China and India heightened. This was upheld in January 2021, leading TikTok to begin reducing staff in the country.

It is has been investigated in the US over national security concerns and user privacy. ByteDance has released a transparency report to deal with these accusations, and has moved to ringfence TikTok from the rest of its operations. This did not stop President Trump from issuing an executive order in August 2020 against any firms doing business with TikTok.

Nonetheless, as of early 2021, TikTok seems like the app to beat. Scroll on to read our collection of TikTok stats from around the web.

Table of Contents

TikTok Overview and Key Statistics

TikTok User Statistics

TikTok Download Statistics

TikTok Usage Statistics

TikTok Revenue Statistics

TikTok Overview and Key Statistics

LaunchedSeptember 2016 (China); September 2017 (International)
Parent companyByteDance
HQBeijing, China; Culver City, California; London, UK
Key peopleZhang Yiming (ByteDance CEO and founder), Kevin Mayer (TikTok CEO)
Company typePrivate
  • 689 million TikTok users internationally (monthly) (official stats)
  • 600 million Douyin users in China (daily) (official stats)
  • 100 million TikTok users in the US (monthly) (official stats)
  • 100 million TikTok users in Europe, with 17 million in the UK, 11 million in France, and 11 million in Germany (official stats)
  • 6 billion lifetime downloads of TikTok on iOS App Store and Google Play as of December 2020 (Sensor Tower)
  • TikTok 2020 downloads estimated at between 850 million and 987 million, excluding Chinese third-party downloads (Apptopia/Sensor Tower)
  • TikTok global penetration estimated at 18% of global internet users aged 16-64 (GlobalWebIndex)
  • TikTok 2020 revenue estimated at $1 billion (Reuters)
  • TikTok valued at $50 billion (Reuters)

Key TikTok User Statistics

TikTok users, exc. Douyin, millions

DateMonthly active users, millions
Jan-1854
Dec-18271
Dec-19508
Jul-20689

Source: TikTok via CNBC

Douyin users (China only)

DateDaily active users, millions
Jan-19250
Jul-19320
Jan-20400
Sep-20600

Source: TikTok via CNBC

Douyin users vs Chinese competitors, March 2020

AppUsers, millions
Douyin518
Kuaishou443
Bilibili122
Little Red Book77

Source: QuestMobile via WalktheChat

Proportion of global internet users who use TikTok

YearProportion of TikTok users (16-64)
20185%
201911%
202018%

Source: GlobalWebIndex

TikTok users in the US

DateMonthly active users, millions
Jan-1811
Feb-1927
Oct-1940
Jun-2091
Aug-20100

Source: TikTok via CNBC

European monthly users by country (over-18s)

CountryUsers, millions
Europe total100
UK17
France11
Germany10.7
Italy9.8
Spain8.8
Norway1.2

Source: Bloomberg

TikTok users by country, August 2020 estimates

CountryUsers, millions
US65.9
Indonesia22.2
Russia16.4
Japan12.6
France9.3
Germany9.1
UK8.5
Italy8.3
Spain7.5
Netherlands3.8
South Korea3.3
Australia2.4
Norway1

Source: eMarketer

TikTok user growth over 2020, by country

CountryEstimated user growth
Norway248.7%
Russia140.9%
Italy104.5%
Netherlands94.2%
France88.7%
US85.3%
Germany79.7%
Spain78.1%
UK75.2%
Indonesia57.5%
Australia52.5%
Japan32.3%
South Korea20.9%

Source: eMarketer

Predicted US TikTok users and penetration (internet users)

YearUsers, millionsPenetration
201935.610.8%
202065.919.8%
202173.722%
202279.623.6%
202384.424.9%
202488.726%

Source: eMarketer 

Predicted TikTok US penetration (social media users) vs Instagram and Snapchat

YearTikTokInstagramSnapchat
201917.3%52.6%39.8%
202031.1%53.9%40%
202134.2%54.9%40.1%
202236.3%55.9%40%
202337.9%56.8%39.8%
202439.3%57.5%39.6%

Source: eMarketer

Predicted UK TikTok users and penetration (internet users)

YearUsers, millionsPenetration
20194.912.4%
20208.521.1%
202110.926.4%
202211.727.8%
202312.128.3%
202412.528.5%

Source: eMarketer

TikTok users in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, millions

DateUsers, millions
Jul-195
Jan-2015.8
Jul-2064.4

Source: eMarketer

TikTok users by gender, percentage

GenderPercentage of users
Male53%
Female47%

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Douyin users by gender

DateMale usersFemale users
Mar-1958.7%41.3%
Mar-2043%57%

Source: QuestMobile via WalktheChat

Douyin users by age

Age% Users, Mar-19% Users, Mar-20
under 1810.5%10.1%
19-2418.7%13.3%
25-3018.8%16.6%
31-3515.6%20.6%
36-4013.2%13.3%
41-4510.1%11.5%
46+13%14.5%

Source: QuestMobile via WalktheChat

US TikTok users by age and gender

AgeMaleFemaleAll genders
10-1914.3%18.2%32.5%
20-2911.2%18.3%29.5%
30-396.5%9.9%16.4%
40-496.7%7.2%13.9%
50+2.3%4.8%7.1%
All ages41%58.4%

Source: App Ape via Statista

How many US Teens are TikTok users?

Time periodPercentage engaging monthly
Spring 202062%
Fall 202069%

Source: Piper Sandler via MarketingCharts

US teens electing TikTok as favourite social media platform

Time periodTeens choosing as favourite
Fall 20194%
Spring 202013%
Fall 202029%

Source: Piper Sandler via MarketingCharts

European TikTok users by gender

CountryFemaleMale
UK65%35%
Spain75%25%
Norway/Sweden56%44%

Source: Bloomberg

Proportion of European TikTok users aged under 18 by country

CountryUsers under 18
UK18%
Germany24%
France33%
Italy33%
Spain33%

Source: Bloomberg 

Chinese Douyin users by city tier (QuestMobile)

City TierDouyin users, 2019Douyin users, 2020
Tier 15.7%5%
Tier 213%11.2%
Tier 316.1%13.3%
Tier 425.1%27%
Tier 522.6%26.1%
Tier 617.5%17.4%

Source: QuestMobile via Youxituoluo

Chinese Douyin users by city tier  (Coresight Research)

City TierProportion of Douyin users
Tier 111%
Tier 241%
Tier 323%
Tier 425%

Source: Coresight Research

Most-followed accounts on TikTok*

Account ownerFollowers, millions
Charli D’Amelio105.8
Addison Rae74.3
Zach King54.5
Bella Poarch52.4
Spencer Polanco Knight50.9
Loren Gray50.6
Dixie D’Amelio47.9
Will Smith46.8
Michel Le44
Riyaz Aly43.8

*January 2021, official TikTok account has 50.2 million followers

Source: SocialBlade

Most-followed celebrities on Douyin

Account nameFollowers, millions
Chen He69.96
Dilraba Dilmurat55.6
Show Lo40.39
Angelababy39.46
GEM39.26
Tu Lei37.5
Guan Xiatong33.48
He Jiong31.41
M Brother29.79
Feng Timo28.91

Source: Statista

Key TikTok Download Statistics

TikTok downloads by quarter*

QuarterDownloads, millions
Q2 201621.3
Q3 201621.8
Q4 201624.8
Q1 201722.7
Q2 201728.4
Q3 201733.6
Q4 201746.8
Q1 2018110.3
Q2 2018156
Q3 2018183.8
Q4 2018205.7
Q1 2019187.3
Q2 2019155.9
Q3 2019175.9
Q4 2019199.4
Q1 2020315
Q2 2020306
Q3 2020189
Q4 2020177

*Sensor Tower stats refer to downloads made through Google Play and iOS App Store; third-party Android download stats not included (i.e. Chinese downloads). Applies throughout.

Source: Sensor Tower

TikTok downloads by month

MonthDownloads, millions
November 201865
December 201872
January 201972
February 201968
March 201958
April 201943
May 201956
June 201957
July 201954
August 201963
September 201960
October 201966
November 201972
December 201983
January 2020105
February 2020113
March 2020115
April 2020107
May 2020112
June 202087
July 202065
August 202063
September 202061
October 202066
November 202055
December 202056

Source: Sensor Tower

TikTok downloads by year*, millions

YearDownloads millions
2019682
2020850

*Apptopia stats refer to downloads made through Google Play and iOS App Store; third-party Android download stats not included (i.e. Chinese downloads). Applies throughout.

Source: Apptopia

TikTok lifetime downloads, billions

DateDownloads, billions
Feb-191
Nov-191.5
Apr-202
Dec-202.6

Source: Sensor Tower

Top countries for TikTok downloads, by month

MonthCountryPercentage of total downloads
August 2019India44%
China8%
September 2019India40%
US8%
October 2019India41%
Brazil7%
November 2019India43%
Brazil7%
December 2019India37%
Brazil14%
January 2020India34%
Brazil10%
February 2020India41%
Brazil9%
March 2020India30%
Brazil9%
April 2020India22%
US9%
May 2020India20%
US9%
June 2020India19%
US9%
July 2020US10%
Indonesia9%
August 2020Indonesia11%
Brazil9%
September 2020Brazil11%
US9%
October 2020China12%
Brazil10%
November 2020China12%
Indonesia8%
December 2020China11%
US10%

Source: Sensor Tower

Top countries for TikTok downloads, by year

YearCountryDownloads, millions
2019India190.6
US41
Turkey23.2
Russia19.9
Pakistan19.5
2020India99.8
US45.6
Brazil34.7
Indonesia30.7
Russia25
Mexico24.2

Source: Priori Data

Key TikTok Usage Statistics

Monthly time using TikTok, per US users

DateWeb minutesApp minutes
Oct-19305.9442.9
Nov-19366.7526.1
Dec-19383.8561.2
Jan-20429.8680
Feb-20425.6731.6
Mar-20476858

Source: Comscore via eMarketer

Daily usage in select European markets

CountryDaily usage time, minutesDaily app opens
UK6013
France60
Norway7417

Source: Bloomberg

Daily TikTok usage in children aged 4-14

CountryMay-19, minutesFeb-20, minutesIncrease
US3882116%
UK356997%
Spain2460150%

Source: TechCrunch

Percentage of users sharing content types on Instagram vs other platforms

Content typeTikTok usersInstagramFacebook
Funny videos48%42%36%
Personal news/updates47%43%40%
Memes39%34%29%
Coronavirus news28%26%25%
Influencer posts24%16%13%
Brand posts21%14%11%
Non-coronavirus news21%21%19%
Brand/product recommendations21%15%12%

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Coronavirus sentiment expressed on Douyin

Word/sentimentInstances in 2020, million
Doubt2.2
Giving up7.61
Too difficult14.91
Persistence69.13
Believe130
Encouragement1800

Source: ByteDance via Jing Culture & Commerce

Douyin retention rate vs Chinese competitors

AppOne week retention rate
Douyin86.8%
Kuaishou83%
Bilibili72.8%
Little Red Book53.4%

Source: QuestMobile via WalktheChat

TikTok influencer marketing stats

Marketers planning to use TikTok for influencer marketing over 2021 vs other platforms

PlatformMarketers planning to use
TikTok35%
YouTube58%
Instagram55%
online ads43%
Tv ads29%
OOH ads20%
Twitch20%
Triller10%

*in the US, UK, and Germany

Source: Takumi

Marketers who believe TikTok offers best influencer marketing ROI vs other platforms

PlatformPercentage of marketers
TikTok6%
Online ads21%
Instagram18%
YouTube18%
Tv ads10%

Source: Takumi

Percentage of influencers active on TikTok vs selected other social channels, by country

PlatformUSUKGermany
Instagram100%97%100%
TikTok14%33%
Pinterest38%9%
Twitch19%17%23%
Triller10%8%11%

Source: Takumi

Percentage of consumers who use TikTok to engage with influencers vs other social channels

PlatformUsers engaging with influencers
TikTok14%
YouTube47%
Instagram37%
Pinterest17%
Snapchat15%
Twitch8%
Triller2%

*in the US, UK, and Germany

Source: Takumi

Proportion of users who engage with influencers weekly, by platform*

PlatformUsers engaging with influencers weekly
TikTok95%
YouTube95%
Instagram94%
Instagram94%
Snapchat92%
Pinterest87%
Twitch83%
Triller75%

*in the US, UK, and Germany

Source: Takumi

TikTok influencer engagement rate by follower count, vs other platforms

Follower countTikTok engagementInstagram engagementTwitter engagement
<10009.4%7.2%1.4%
<50008.6%5.3%1.2%
<10,0008.1%3.7%0.6%
<100,0007.2%2.1%0.4%
100,000+5.3%1.1%0.3%

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Proportion of consumers* who think TikTok influencer marketing is most likely to lead to a purchase vs other channels

PlatformPercentage of consumers
TikTok4%
Tv ads21%
YouTube16%
Instagram11%
Online ads8%

*in the US, UK, and Germany

Source: Takumi

Key TikTok Revenue Statistics

TikTok revenue by month*

MonthTikTok revenue, USD millions
Apr-197.8
May-199.0
Jun-1910.9
Jul-1911.9
Aug-1914.0
Sep-1916.5
Oct-1918.5
Nov-1933.2
Dec-1943.0
Apr-20**78
May-2095.7
Jun-2090.7
Jul-20102.5
Aug-2088.1
Sep-20130.5
Oct-20115
Nov-20123
Dec-20142

*iOS and Google Play revenue only, excludes Chinese third-party revenue

**figures for January-March 2020 unavailable

Source: Sensor Tower

TikTok revenue by country by month, top markets
ChinaUSTurkey
MonthRevenue, USD millions% global revenueRevenue, USD millions% global revenueRevenue, USD millions% global revenue
Apr-2067.586.6%6.48.2%
May-2085.289%5.96.2%1.11.2%
Jun-2080.789%5.46.0%
Jul-2091.289%6.26.0%
Aug-2074.985%6.97.8%1.21.4%
Sep-20112.286%7.86.0%1.31%
Oct-2098.986%9.28.0%2.32%
Nov-20104.685%9.88.0%2.52%
Dec-20122.186%9.97.0%2.82%

Source: Sensor Tower

Other Key TikTok Statistics

  • TikTok MAUs expected to reach 1.2 billion in 2021 (App Annie)
  • TikTok the seventh-most downloaded app of the 2010s (App Annie)
  • TikTok’s 315 million downloads in Q1 2020 is a record for quarterly downloads (figure excludes Chinese third-party downloads) (SensorTower)
  • TikTok rated the most-downloaded app of 2020, and the second-highest for consumer spend after Tinder (App Annie)
  • 46 million US TikTok downloads in 2019 (Sensor Tower)
  • 89 million US TikTok downloads in 2020 (Apptopia)
  • India top market for TikTok downloads in 2019 (if we exclude Chinese Android downloads), with 323 million (App Annie)
  • Before ban, it was estimated that TikTok user numbers in India would rise to 125 million in 2020, from 80 million in 2019 (eMarketer)
  • Musical.ly counted 100 million users at time of August 2018 merger with TikTok (TechCrunch)
  • Over 50 million daily TikTok users in the US as of August 2020 (TikTok via CNBC)
  • US TikTok penetration at 13%, rising to 27% of under-35s (CivicScience)
  • Four in 10 adult European TikTok users aged 18-24 (Bloomberg)
  • In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, US TikTok users were marginally more likely to lean Democrat than non users; 55% vs 51% (CivicScience)
  • In 2019, only 9% of US internet users had used TikTok, with 5% more interested in using it; this rose to 49% for teenage users (eMarketer)
  • Android TikTok users spent 68 billion hours using the app in 2019 (App Annie)
  • China accounts for eight out of every 10 minutes viewed on TikTok (App Annie)
  • Average daily time on TikTok estimated at 45 minutes (Fast Company)
  • 400 million searches take place on Douyin each day (ByteDance)
  • Average Douyin usage time per day was logged at 88 minutes per day in March 2020 (Newrank & Guosen via WalktheChat)
  • A November 2020 analysis found daily Douyin usage time of 91 minutes (QuestMobile via Bloomberg)
  • Monthly Douyin usage time in March 2020 was pegged at 1,709 minutes – a 72.5% increase, year-on-year (QuestMobile via Youxituoluo)
  • US users opened TikTok an average of eight times a day in 2018, with sessions averaging just under 5 minutes (TikTok via DigiDay)
  • Indian users spend 38 minutes daily using TikTok (The Economic Times)
  • 16% of US/UK users turned to TikTok to feel more connected to others during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic (GlobalWebIndex)
  • Videos related to coronavirus prevention and control received 42 billion plays on Douyin over 2020 (Jing Daily)
  • 20-21:00 most popular time for users to shoot Douyin content (ByteDance)
  • A late 2018 Global Web Index study found 55% of TikTok users uploaded a video in the last month, compared to 68% who had watched one (GlobalWebIndex)
  • TikTok the most positively reviewed app in the US in 2020, with 88% positive reviews (SensorTower)
  • 60% of TikTok users feel a sense of community while using the app (Nielsen)
  • 14% of marketers planned to up their TikTok spend over 2021 (HubSpot)
  • Only 3% of marketers chose TikTok as one of the most effective social media channels (CivicScience)
  • 61% of TikTok users feel ads on TikTok are unique, compared with other platforms (Nielsen)
  • 43% of TikTok users feel advertising on the platform blends in with native content (Nielsen)
  • 52% of users say they discover new products on TikTok (Nielsen)
  • 42,000 merchants shifted $633 million worth of goods in Hubei province (Jing Culture & Commerce)
  • TikTok 2020 revenue came to $540 million (excluding Chinese third-party revenue), making it the top-grossing app of the year (Apptopia)
  • Global TikTok revenue for 2020 estimated to reach $1 billion (Reuters)
  • TikTok 2019 revenue came to $176.9 million (excluding non-iOS Chinese revenue) (Sensor Tower)
  • Other estimates put TikTok 2019 revenue at between $200million and $300 million (The Information)
  • Insiders estimated that TikTok would generate $500 million in US revenue over 2020 (The Information)
  • One third of Douyin users use the app for live streaming, generating $18 million daily The Information)
  • 22 million content creators made a collective $6.15 billion on Douyin over the course of 2020, according to ByteDance (Jing Daily)
  • TikTok announced $200 million Creator’s Fund in July 2020, set to rise to $1 billion in the following three years (TikTok)
  • In the UK, TikTok posted losses of $120 million in 2019, driven by $109 million sales/marketing expense, with sales coming to $20 million (Bloomberg)
  • ByteDance generated RMB 40 billion in Chinese revenue in Q1 2020 ($6.2 billion), leading the company to target RMB 200 billion ($31 billion) over the full year (Straits Times)
  • ByteDance reported to have brought in RMB 180 billion ($27.2 billion) in Chinese ad revenue by November 2020; 60% of this revenue is generated through Douyin  (Reuters)
  • TikTok valued at $50 billion by investors (Reuters)
  • ByteDance 2020 revenue stood at $35 billion (Bloomberg)
  • ByteDance 2019 revenue stood at $16 billion (Reuters)
  • ByteDance controlled 23% of the Chinese digital app market in H1 2019 (CNBC)
  • ByteDance became the world’s most highly-valued private startup, with a valuation of $78 billion after a SoftBank-led $3 billion investment round (CNBC)
  • Highest 2020 valuation of ByteDance at $140 billion (Reuters)
  • It has been predicted that ByteDance could raise $180 billion in an IPO (CNBC)

TikTok User Statistics

TikTok is available in over 150 markets around the world, in 39 languages. The latest available official statistics from July 2020 show that there are 689 million TikTok users around the world (monthly active users).

This updates stats from 2019, which gave us a figure of 500 million. Excluding Chinese apps, this puts TikTok behind only the Facebook family of apps, and YouTube, in terms of user numbers.

These figures do not include Chinese Douyin users.

TikTok users (MAUs), millions


Source: TikTok via CNBC

App Annie expect total TikTok user numbers to reach 1.2 billion over 2021.

TikTok global penetration 

GlobalWebIndex stats from 2020 peg global TikTok penetration among internet users aged 16-64 at 18%, up from 11% a year prior, and 5% in 2018.

This means that nearly one-in-five global internet users were TikTok users in 2020, likely to have crossed that threshold by 2021.

TikTok global penetration, percentage of internet users aged 16-64



Source: GlobalWebIndex

TikTok (Douyin) in China

The above figures do not include users of the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin. Separate official figures pertaining to this app from September 2020 give us a figure of 600 million users.  This is up on 400 million in January 2020. These are daily active users – meaning that the monthly figure is likely to be even higher than the TikTok figure above.

This would make it one of China’s most-used apps. The latest stats at the time of writing give QQ 617 million monthly active users, and WeChat over 1.2 billion. We can assume, therefore, that Douyin probably occupies the number two spot.

Previous figures set Douyin’s monthly active user count at 300 million in June 2018, with 150 million of these logging into Douyin on a daily basis. This increased to 400 million monthly active users, and 200 million daily active users by November of the same year, according to Chinese media reports.

Douyin users (DAUs), millions



Source: TikTok via CNBC

68% of Chinese social media users use Douyin, and 59% of smartphone users said ByteDance back in 2019.

The short video format as a whole is big business in China, accounting for 9% of online time in the world’s most-populous nation as of late 2018.

According to Miaozhen data published by WalktheChat, Douyin overtook Kuaishou in Q1 2018 to become the most popular short video app in the country.

It has maintained this lead. As of March 2020, when Douyin daily users were estimated at 518 million, we can see that Kuaishou remains the biggest threat to Douyin’s pre-eminence. It’s not just a battle for users. It is thought that the February 2021 Kuaishou IPO will offer a financial threat to ByteDance.

Douyin users (DAUs) vs Chinese competitors



Source: QuestMobile via WalktheChat

Casting our eyes back, QuestMobile data from June 2019 shows Douyin’s then monthly user count of 486 million well in excess of Kuaishou’s 341 million users. We should note that ByteDance’s dominance does not end with TikTok. Its Xigua (more focused on search, allowing for videos up to five minutes) and Huoshan (livestreaming) apps, with 131 and 106 million users respectively were the third and fourth most-used short video apps at this point. Both are, however, were some distance behind Kauishou.

Media titans Tencent and Baidu filled in the bottom places, with their apps some distance behind in terms of active user count. The exception is Tencent’s Weishi, which is not far behind ByteDance’s apps. The standout feature of Weishi is its lyric and subtitle matching, and access to the sizeable QQ Music library.

From left to right this graphic shows ByteDance’s Douyin, Xigua, and Huoshan; Kuaishou; Tencent’s Weishi and Huoguo Shipin; and Baidu’s Haokan Shipin and Quanmin Xiao Shipin.

Top short-video apps in China, MAU, hundreds of millions



Source: QuestMobile via Pandaily

eMarketer predicted that the total number of active Douyin users in China will rise to 556 million by 2023, accounting for 60% of mobile users in the country. As above, this ended up being well short of the mark – though in fairness, these estimates did not take into account the year that 2020 was set to be…

Douyin users in China, 2018 – 2023

Douyin users in China, 2018 - 2023

Source: eMarketer

The combined level of penetration of ByteDance’ video apps in China stood at 72.1% in September 2019. This compared to 42% for Kuaishou. For more specific Douyin stats, we can refer to ByteDance’s penetration figures of 59% of smartphone users and 68% of social media users, as above (allowing for the fact that these are drawn from different datasets).

The Miaozhen data to which we referred above put Douyin’s level of market penetration at 30%, as of June 2018, compared with Kuaishou’s 25%.

Short video apps are massive in China; 810 million users of such apps were counted in Q3 2019. This represents a 25% increase year-on-year.

TikTok users in the US

TikTok’s official stats released in the second half of 2020 showed the app had more users than was previously estimated, including in some specific markets.

In the US, for instance, it was revealed that there were no fewer than 100 million users in August 2020, a  bump up from 91 million in May 2020. This is over twice the October 2019 figure of 2019.

Clearly the unique events of 2020 drove substantial quantities of new users to TikTok.

TikTok user growth in the US, MAUs, millions

TikTok user growth in the US

Source: TikTok via CNBC

Other TikTok user figures revealed there were 50 million daily TikTok users in the US, as of August 2020. The app was the most positively reviewed of 2020 in the US, logging 88% positive reviews, according to Sensor Tower.

eMarketer’s projected figures for TikTok user growth in the US saw a figure of 88.7 million being reached by 2024, based on an expected pattern of slowing growth. This would see penetration (among internet users) increasing from 20% in 2020 to 26% over this same period.

Predicted US TikTok users, millions, and penetration, percent (internet users)


Source: eMarketer

Other figures, from CivicScience, pegged US TikTok penetration at 13% in March 2020, rising to 27% of those aged under 35.

In terms of how it compares with its chief rivals, Snapchat and Instagram in terms of penetration, these figures estimated that TikTok would reach 31.1% of social media users in 2020. This would increase to 39.3% by 2024, at which point it would catch Snapchat, predicted to hold its current market penetration, more or less.

In 2020, Snapchat counted a little over 100 million daily users in the US, so TikTok did indeed remain a little way behind.

It would still lag well behind Instagram (an estimated 140 million US users in 2020), which is predicted to reach 57.5% penetration by 2024, up from 53.9% in 2020.

Predicted TikTok US penetration vs Instagram and Snapchat, percent (social media users)



Source: eMarketer

eMarketer is not alone in underestimating TikTok’s potential. Reuters reported a figure of 26.5 million back in November 2019 – though this also did perhaps seem a little bit on the low side (the actual figure was 40 million in October 2019).

Going back a little, the August 2018 merger with Musical.ly provided a substantial boost to active users of the platform – particularly in the US. Musical.ly, it should be noted was a hugely popular app, which had topped iOS free download charts in 19 countries and counted 100 million monthly active users. This was a clear part of TikTok’s strategy to grow its overseas userbase to over 50% of total users.

As a side note, this was not just powered by pure excitement over new functionality for Musical.ly users; Apptopia reports a significant increase in advertising spend by ByteDance in the months following the merger (something not unnoticed by the online commentariat).

ByteDance advertising spend following TikTok/Musical.ly consolidation



Source: Apptopia

This investment into advertising was maintained. In a June 2019 analysis, the Wall Street Journal reported that TikTok was the largest advertiser on Snapchat, running an app-install campaign worth $1 billion. Advertising on rival platforms has been a key strategy for TikTok. Indeed, a slowdown in download growth was ascribed to a decline in Facebook ad spending.

The merger with Musical.ly has not been without its challenges, however. The ByteDance’s failure to seek from the US Committee on Foreign Investment forms the basis of current American concerns over national security, and a resultant investigation. Divestment from these assets has been suggested as a possible solution.

Back in 2019, despite the hype surrounding the app, only 9% of US internet users had used the app, as of October of that year, with a further 5% stating an intention to use it. 49% remained unmoved by the app’s appeal, with a further 37% reporting that they had never heard of the app.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that this simply represented a huge potential market into which TikTok could grow. We would dare say now that a good deal more US Americans have heard of TikTok, and – as with all social trends – many more will have become interested in using the app.

What percentage of Americans have used or plan to use TikTok as of December 2019?

What percentage of Americans have used or plan to use TikTok?

Source: eMarketer

Figures are, of course, stronger among teenaged users, 49% of whom had used the app in the month prior. This, however, is someway inferior to the 67% who had used Snapchat, 74% who had used Instagram, and the 90% who had used YouTube.

TikTok users by country

TikTok user figures pertaining to certain European markets were obtained by Bloomberg in September 2020. These figures indicate a total of 100 million TikTok users across Europe.

The UK was the leading market by some way according to these stats, with 17 million monthly active users. This is a considerable increase on the 10 million reported in Q1 2020. France and Germany, on 11 million apiece follow, with Italy (10 million) and Spain (9 million) not far behind.

Bloomberg notes that aspects of the presentation from which this information was obtained pertain only to adult TikTok users; the wording is not entirely clear as to whether this applies to total user numbers.

Given the app’s popularity with teenagers and even pre-teens, this means that these figures may be well below the total figures. Of the adult users covered, four in 10 were aged 18-24.

See TikTok demographics for the percentage of teens found in each market.

TikTok users in European markets, MAUs, millions



Source: Bloomberg

The official TikTok users figures blew previous estimates out of the water.

As of August 2020, eMarketer by country stats estimated that there were 65.9 million TikTok users in the US. As we cover above, these stats were quickly shown to be 50% too low. We include the below by country stats to both emphasise how much higher user numbers were than expected, and to give estimates for markets for which we do not have official figures.

Indonesia and Russia, with 22.2 million and 16.4 million users respectively, are next in this ranking with Japan (12.6 million) and France (9.3 million) rounding out a diverse top five.

TikTok users by country, August 2020 estimates, millions



Source: eMarketer

If tempted to suggest that eMarketer’s figures failed to account for TikTok’s explosion in popularity, we might note that they were built upon substantial user growth.

Norway led the way, with a predicted 250% increase in user numbers over 2020. Bigger markets, such as Russia (141%), France (89%), and even the US (85%) also were predicted to log phenomenal growth in TikTok user numbers over 2020.

2020 user growth by country, August 2020 estimates, percentage growth



Source: eMarketer

eMarketer’s UK figures are even lower than the US figures seen above, with the estimated figure of 8.5 million TikTok users at half the 17 million official figure (potentially 20 million with users aged under 18). This was predicted to rise to 12.5 million by 2024, taking total penetration to 28.5%, up from 21.1% in 2020.

Naturally, we will have to up these estimates according to the real figures, but we perhaps can an idea of the predicted pattern of growth. In this, 2020 stands out as a year of rapid growth, before more steady user growth in the following years.

Predicted UK TikTok users, millions, and penetration, percent (internet users)

Predicted UK TikTok users, millions, and penetration, percent (internet users)

Source: eMarketer

TikTok in Asia

Global Web Index stats from Q2 2019 showed TikTok penetration was then highest in Asia, where over a third of users aged 16-64 had an account. There wasn’t much to split the rest of the world, with penetration of between 12% (North America) and 10% (Latin America and Europe).

TikTok penetration by region, Q2 2019

TikTok penetration by region, Q2 2019

Source: Global Web Index

As of June 2019, it was estimated that there were 120 million monthly TikTok users in India. But pre-ban India was/is not the only prominent TikTok market.

A more conservative estimate from eMarketer, true to form, had Indian TikTok user numbers reaching 125 million in 2020 (pre-ban). It estimated 2019 user numbers at 80 million.

App Ape Lab gives us a slightly more conservative figure for India, at 75 million users (Android only), as of December 2019. This is actually down a little on the year’s peak for TikTok users in India, with nearly 80 million monthly active TikTok users logged in September. Growth in Indian TikTok MAU for the year comes to around 50%, despite this.

Its figure of 6 million MAU in Indonesia and 3 million in South Korea also seem on the low side. Whether or not we can take these TikTok user numbers as representative, we can at least chart user growth over the course of 2019.

These figures are Android only, though this is only likely to have a significant impact on South Korean MAU.

TikTok users in India, Indonesia, and South Korea, Android, 2019



Source: App Ape Lab

The region is clearly an important one for ByteDance. TikTok announced a partnership with on-demand video player iFlix in 13 countries in Southeast Asia. This would make a selection of TikTok clips available in the iFlix ‘Snacks Library’. This is TikTok’s first attempt to reach an audience through an over-the-top video player. TikTok compilations are common on YouTubehowever.

In November 2019, TikTok ran a talent contest entitled All-Star Southeast Asia. 302,000 entrants entered the competition, with judges including a range of singers, actors, and TV personalities from the region. Awards were handed out over three categories: Acting, won by HT Channel, talent, won by Yanyan de Jesus, and lifestyle, won by Dao Thi Quynh.

A marketing conference focusing on the region was held in Singapore in July 2019.

TikTok users in Latin America

The final set of the eMarketer by country stats to which we referred above  pertain to the Latin American markets of Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. In these markets, it is estimated that TikTok user numbers reached a collective 64.4 million in July 2020. This represents a huge leap from January 2020’s 15.8 million, which itself is some way up on July 2019’s 5 million.

We have no official figures by way of comparison, but given the keen app adoption we have previously seen in Brazil and Mexico, the figure could well be higher.

TikTok users in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, millions

TikTok users in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, millions

Source: eMarketer

TikTok demographics

Hootsuite/We Are Social TikTok figures from late 2020 give us a gender split of 53:47 in favour of male users.

TikTok users by gender, percent

TikTok users by gender, percent

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

App Ape figures from June 2020 show a distinct tilt towards female users in the US, accounting for 58.4% of TikTok users, to 41% male. In terms of age, it is a simple downward trend as we go up in age. Teenage users account for a nearly a third of the total, with a further 30% in their 20s, falling to 16% for users in their 30s.

60% of US TikTok users were aged between 16-24, according to a November 2019 release from Reuters.

US TikTok users by age and gender, percent



Source: App Ape via Statista

A biannual survey conducted by Piper Sandler found 69% of US teens used TikTok in fall 2020, up from 62% in spring.

Percentage of US Teens that use TikTok 



Piper Sandler via MarketingCharts

The same survey found increasing numbers of teen choosing TikTok as their favourite app – 29% in fall 2020. The emergence of TikTok has served to threaten the long established duopoly of Snapchat and Instagram in this long running survey.

Percentage of US teens electing TikTok as favourite social media platform



Piper Sandler via MarketingCharts

ComScore TikTok data (March 2019) found over 50% of TikTok users in the US are aged 18-34 – with a nearly even split between 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds. Interestingly though, we still saw a quarter of US TikTok users were aged 45-64. Its appeal, therefore, is not simply limited to kids…

We should note that this data does not include those under 18 years of age, which is clearly a key TikTok demographic, as we see above – and certainly may significantly reshape this data.

We also get a snapshot of TikTok user income. We find a preponderance of usage among those with household income in excess of $100,000 bracket (37% of users). TikTok, then, seems to be an app for the comfortably off – which certainly makes a compelling case to would-be TikTok marketers.

On the other hand, 30% of US TikTok users report household income of $40,000 or less. We might assume some quantity of these would be students, not yet earning an income – or those at early stages of their career.

US TikTok user demographics

US TikTok user demographics

Source: ComScore via MarketingCharts

One more thing we know about TikTok users in the US: they were more likely to lean Democrat than non-users: 55% compared to 51%.

The Bloomberg data to which we refer above also gives us a gender split for select European markets. This also shows a distinct inclination towards female users. This is most pronounced in Spain, where three-quarters of TikTok users are female. It’s a bit more balanced in Scandinavia, where 44% of TikTok users are male. The UK lies in the middle, with a roughly 2:1 gender split in favour of female users.

This data seems to refer only to adult users – we may see a more even split among teens.

European TikTok users by gender,  percent

European TikTok users by gender

Source: Bloomberg

The source from which the Bloomberg obtained its European user numbers (a TikTok for Business presentation) gives us a proportion of under-18 TikTok users in the aforementioned European markets.

This ranges from a third in France, Spain, and Italy, to 24% in Germany, and only 18% in the UK. If the Bloomberg figures referenced above do not include teenage users, this gives us an idea of what the total userbase in each country might be.

Proportion of under-18s in European markets, percent



Source: Bloomberg

App Ape also gave us a demographic breakdown of TikTok users in India, Indonesia, and South Korea, though these date back to 2019.

As with so many apps, India’s TikTok user base is heavy skewed male, a ratio not too far off being 10:1. In South Korea and Indonesia, we see a slight tilt towards female users.

In India, usage is most prevalent among users in the their 20s. Interestingly, we see users in their 30s outnumbering teenage users. The landscape here, then, is different.

Indonesian TikTok users show a more typical pattern, with usage declining as we go up through the age groups. In South Korea, the pattern in anything but typical. Users in their 40s are the biggest demographic, followed by 30-somethings.

The app sees its lowest levels of usage among users in the their 20s, with male users in their 20s the smallest demographic, followed by male teenagers. The latter are outnumbered by users in their 50s or over of both genders.

Indian, Indonesia, and South Korean TikTok demographics

Indian, Indonesia, and South Korean TikTok demographics

Source: App Ape Lab

We are also given a demographic break down of users in Japan. This is a relatively small sample of 6 million users, though this affluent, highly-digital, Asian can perhaps give us an indication of TikTok’s success in particular market conditions.

Here we see a near-perfect gender split. Interestingly, usage seems relatively evenly split through various age groups, with only a slight weighting towards younger demographics. Interestingly, there are nearly as many 40-something users as there are 20-something users, with usage trailing off very slightly among presumably career-focussed 30-somethings.  Teenage users, are however, the largest constituency.

Teenage users also show one of the strongest gender imbalances, skewing significantly female. Among older demographics, we see the opposite trend.

Japanese TikTok demographics



Source: App Ape Lab    

In Brazil and Germany (both reckoned at around 3 million Android TikTok users at this point), TikTok users skew female. This is particularly pronounced in Brazil, where the ratio was close to 2:1.

Brazil and Germany TikTok demographics

Brazil and Germany TikTok demographics

Source: App Ape Lab

While TikTok users are typically teenagers in the popular imagination, this is coming to be less the case in many markets. In China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the UAE, 25-34-year-old users outnumber 16-24-year olds.

Douyin demographics

QuestMobile data shows a shift in Douyin demographics between 2019 and 2020, with an almost complete reversal of the gender split.

Female users now account for 57%, having previously only made up 41% of the user base. It is unclear what may have led to this drastic shift, that came along with a significant increase in users over this time.

Interestingly, this closely matches the gender split we saw for the US.

Douyin users by gender, percent

Douyin users by gender, percent

QuestMobile via WalktheChat

This suggests a trend, however Jiguang/WalktheChat Douyin stats showed a greater proportion of female users in China, around two thirds, all the way back in 2018.

Gender breakdown of Chinese Douyin users

Changing age demographics of Douyin Users in China

Source: WalktheChat/Jiguang

We also saw an upward shift in terms of the age of Douyin users between 2019 and 2020, with users in their early 30s coming to account for the biggest demographic (20.6%, up from 15.6%). We also saw small but noteworthy upward shifts among older demographics.

On the other hand, the share of 19-24-year-old users fell to 13.3% from 18.7%, while 25-30-year-old users fell to 16.6% from 18.8%.

Douyin users by age, percent

douyin users by age

QuestMobile via WalktheChat

According to Global Web Index TikTok stats (published in August 2019), Chinese Douyin users were a little older than TikTok users from elsewhere. Outside of China, 43% of TikTok users were aged 16-24, whereas in China over 60% are 25-44.

2018 stats show that this shift upwards through age categories seems to be a long term trend. Then, the highest preponderance of users fell into the 20-24 age group (around a third), followed by 25-29, accounting for a little over a quarter. One in five users was yet to reach to their 20th birthday.

Age of Chinese Douyin users

Age of Chinese Douyin users

Source: WalktheChat/Jiguang

We can trace the above trends further back still. As of July 2017, users under the age of 25 represented just over half of users. By February of 2018, this had dropped to 32% – which still leaves it as the largest age demographic, if not by so generous a margin.

The greatest growth over this period came in the 25-30 demographic, which has more than doubled to come to account for nearly a quarter of users, overtaking the 31-35 bracket of users in late 2017.

The latter has also grown, though not quite as dramatically and from a much higher base. It did, however, draw level in February 2018 (the end point of this analysis) with the 25-30 bracket.

Changing age demographics of Douyin Users in China

Changing age demographics of Douyin Users in China

Source: WalktheChat

The app’s creators also confirm the trend: as of early June 2018, 40% of users fell into the 25-30 bracket – overtaking 18-24 year olds as the most numerous users of the app.

A full demographic breakdown from iResearch gives us a snapshot of Douyin users as of September 2019.

According to these stats, male Douyin users narrowly outnumber female, 52% to 48%. We might bear in mind that this is slightly less pronounced than China’s birth ratio, which currently stands at 115:100 in favour of males.

In terms of age, the best represented age group here is the under 25s, who account for nearly a third of users. 31-35 year olds outnumber 25-30 year olds, though not by a huge distance (26.1% to 24.8%). We see a distinct tail off among older users, with over 40s (a low cut-off point) accounting for a mere 5.4%.

In terms of ‘city tier’, Douyin usage is concentrated among the larger urban areas, with Tier 2 cities accounting for nearly a quarter of Douyin users. These are closely followed by new Tier 1 and Tier 3 cities. The three, between them, account for over two thirds of Douyin users.

The biggest Tier 1 cities (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou) account for only 11% of Douyin users. Only a handful of cities qualify as Tier 1, so this is actually closer to representative of the wider population. This reveals that Douyin is a country-wide phenomenon, not limited to early adopters in technologically-progressive big cities.

This, however, has its limits. Usage levels are significantly lower in less-developed but highly-populated bands of Tier 4 and 5, while Tier 3 cities’ numerical advantage presumably contributes to its large share of Douyin users.

We might add that we are looking at an unannotated dataset here. The city tier system is an informal one, with cities moving between bands depending on who you ask. The number of tiers varies too – often ending at Tier 3. The data we have here is at slightly more granular (albeit completely unscientific) level. Lower bands tend to contain more cities, and more people as a consequence, despite being smaller individually.

Douyin demographics, September 2019



Data Source: iResearch

More up-to-date data from QuestMobile shows a distinct tilt toward lower tier cities, with both Tiers 4 and 5 accounting for over a quarter of Douyin users in 2020.

The ‘top’ three tiers account for 19.5% between them, with Tier 1 only accounting for 5%. Once again, pointing to a truly nationwide phenomenon.

This seems to have become more pronounced between 2019 and 2020, with Tiers 4 and 5 gaining at the expense of the top-three.

Douyin users by city tier, percent (QuestMobile)

Douyin users by city tier, percent (QuestMobile)Source: QuestMobile via Youxituoluo

Coresight Research stats are split into four tiers, so some of the above categories will be merged or chopped in half. As such, Tier 1 accounts for 11% of users, and Tier 2 here becomes the biggest by far, with 41%.

Nonetheless, Tier 3 and 4 by this analysis contain a quarter (more or less) apiece of Douyin users. Again, the takeaway is that this is not an app aimed only at urbanites.

Douyin users by city tier, percent (Coresight Research)

Douyin users by city tier, percent (Coresight)

Source: Coresight Research  

The proportion of Douyin users living in the biggest cities also seems to have fallen significantly between March-May 2017 and March-May 2018. Smaller cities, on the other hand, saw growth in Douyin usage over this period. The percentages listed here are drawn from another data set and do not quite tarry with those above.

Shift in Douyin users’ geographical base



Source: WalktheChat/Miaozhen

Older data from Jiguang, published by WalktheChat, breaks users down by individual city. The most populous cities topped the list, as we’d expect, with Beijing leading Shanghai.

Top Chinese cities for Douyin usage



Source: WalktheChat/Jiguang

Douyin publisher demographics

In terms of who publishes content on Douyin, we saw the same gender split we saw above, with female Douyin users far more active than their male peers. Of these, the 21-25 year old grouping were by far the most active, accounting for half of the content posted by women or girls.

The same applies on the male side, though not quite so starkly, with older male content posters more active (in proportional terms at least).

Douyin content publisher demographics

Douyin content publisher demographics

Source: WalktheChat/Miaozhen

If we break down content posters in a different way, we see that regular users accounted for just shy of 50% of content posted. Internet celebrities post another third, offline celebrities and brands (a piffling 4%) the rest.

Who publishes content on Douyin?

Who publishes content on Douyin?

WalktheChat/Miaozhen

According to Tencent Market Insight, cited by Sean Wang on Medium in May 2018, 82% of TikTok/Douyin users were looking for funny videos, with talent (56%) and daily life (54.1%) the next most popular categories. The same study shows that a greater proportion of creators were interested in trying the app out for themselves (78%) than were trying to get followers (16%) – don’t forget the requisite pinch of salt to season this self-reported data. This was, however, early days for the app.

In terms of content, the app prioritises an in-house curated feed over an accounts-followed feed. Accordingly, only 23% of users use the latter function at the point at which this data was collected – something which might be of note to brands or other users trying to gain traction on the platform.

TikTok users’ values

TikTok users are conscious of status, reveal Global Web Index stats. They are 1.5x more likely to promote a brand online if it would enhance their status online – which chimes with the fact that they are 1.3x more likely to be categorised as status seekers.

Below we can see some of the most-distinctive values of TikTok users, measured by the proportion of users ascribing to each value and how this percentage compares to the average internet user.

TikTok users value product-centric communities; they are 1.4x more likely to buy a product in order to feel part of their community associated with said product. They are open to advertising (1.35x) and can be swayed by others’ opinions (1.34x) – ergo open to influencer marketing.

They seem fairly relaxed about things, with a majority feeling comfortable about the global economy, and the environment alike – levels 1.32x and 1.31x greater than average. They are also confident about their own personal economies, with 41% – 1.33x more than global average – reporting that they were comfortable borrowing money.

And finally, we see that they are brand conscious people: 1.27x more than average.

TikTok users’ most distinctive values

TikTok users’ most distinctive values

Source: Global Web Index

These users are keen to express their opinion, with one third saying their opinion was the main reason for using the internet. Two-thirds had posted a review of a product or service.

Top TikTok users

As with any viral app, TikTok can count a number of celebrity users. In the US, these include comedian and Tonight Show presenter Jimmy Fallon and pro-skateboarder Tony Hawk. The former’s videos have been viewed over 10 million times. Fallon’s #tumbleweedchallenge asked viewers to roll along on the floor like tumbleweed accompanied by music; in the space of a week, the challenge attracted 8,000 submissions and 10.4 million engagements. This was the greatest level of engagement generated by any such ‘challenge’ on the platform recorded up until this point.

The accolade of most-popular user – or users we should say – on TikTok was formerly held by Germany’s Lisa and Lena, with 32.7 million followers. The twins (also big on Instagram) were known for their lip-synced clips, and even released a single of their own in July 2017.

They, however, left TikTok in March 2019, claiming that they did not want to support a site that wasn’t safe (thought to be in reference to the platform’s failure to meet child protection guidelines, and usage of minors’ data). The pair are still active on Instagram and YouTube, and have even crossed over to television, doing work for children’s television network Nickelodeon.

The most-followed account belongs to young voice actress and influencer Charli D’Amelio, with 105.8 million followers, as of January 2021. In true social media dynasty style, her singer sister Dixie also makes the top 10, with 47.9 million followers.

In second, however, is dancer Addison Rae – dance being a format perfectly suited to TikTok. She has 74.3 million followers. Third is Zach King, with 31.9 million followers, who specialises in digital sleights of hand.

Jumping down to the sixth most-followed TikTok account, we find American singer and social media personality Loren Gray, who formerly held number one. She still counts more followers than the official TikTok account – 50.6 million to 50.2 followers.

The list is made up nearly entirely of young creators who have made their name on social media. The sole exception being the original rapper-slash-actor Will Smith, whose 46.8 million followers get him into eighth-place.

The top-10 is dominated by US Americans. Impressively-bequiffed Indian teenager Riyaz Aly, with 43.8 million followers, comes in 10th, however – showing the power of TikTok in the Indian market. The absence of other Indian names reflects the impact of the ban.

Baby Ariel no longer makes the the top-10, though was chosen as one of Time magazine’s most-influential people on the internet in 2017, and one of Forbes’s top influencers the same year. As with Loren Gray, she also a singer, having crossed over from lip-syncing.

It seems as if many TikTok users who gain fame view the platform as a springboard to more conventional types of fame, which is probably linked to the superior earnings potential on offer. On the other hand, there is no questioning the levels of screaming fandom that are possible for those using TikTok, and previously Musical.ly, as their medium.

A host of names who first made their names on Musical.ly (Loren Gray and Baby Ariel for example), confirms how significant this takeover was in terms of gaining a foothold in the West.

Most-followed individual accounts TikTok (January 2021), millions

most-followed on TikTok

Source: SocialBlade

The biggest Douyin celebrity accounts once dwarfed TikTok. With TikTok’s huge increase in users over 2020, however, this is no longer the case (though we are comparing June 2020 stats with January 2021 here). This list looks at traditional celebs – we couldn’t find data that referred to influencers so it is unclear whether there are any with more followers than the below.

The biggest Douyin account belongs to actor Chen He, aka Michael He, with 69.96 million followers. Fellow actor Dilraba Dilmurat comes in second with 55.6 million, and singer Show Lo comes third with 40.39 million.

Most-followed celebrities on Douyin, June 2020, millions



Source: Statista

An Indian TikTok collective called Team 07 were followed by 40 million users collectively, with most-popular member Mr Faisu counting 21 million. Three of its five members were, however, banned from the platform in July 2019 for posting content warning of possible repercussions after an Indian Muslim man was lynched the previous month. The three were referred to the police for promoting enmity between different groups.

TikTok, naturally wanting to stay on side in its second-biggest market, banned the users. Previous Team 07 content had featured the usual benign TikTok content, such as lip-syncing and dancing.

Outside of the ranks of the rich and/or famous, the app is also reportedly popular among nurses, firefighters, and members of the US army – albeit it has been banned by the US Navyover security fears.

An analysis from Jing Daily looked at the most popular users on Douyin in China in March 2019, analysing some key trends. Among these was a trend towards comedy, with three of the top-10 accounts classifiable in this category. These include the top account, an account featuring comedian Guo Donglin, which at this point was growing by 8 million followers per month.

Another popular theme was videos focused on one single area (beauty, pets, food, etc), around which relatively formulaic videos are produced. These ‘single-vertical’ accounts made up four of the top-10 at this point.

The article also points to the popularity of mini-TV shows on Douyin, with one example clocking up 6 million followers after posting a mere 14 videos.

TikTok vs Facebook

Instagram’s parent company, Facebook – never known to rest on its laurels in the face of competition – announced it was building a standalone app known as Lasso, which aims to directly challenge TikTok for a share of the Generation Z market. Lasso launched in November 2018.

As of October 2019, Lasso had logged 425,000 installs – not in TikTok’s league.

A leaked recording from July 2019 revealed that Mark Zuckerberg’s strategy was to first target markets in which TikTok has as of yet failed to gain a foothold. Although sources have also indicated that Facebook is aiming to go head-to-head with TikTok in its biggest market outside of China, India, in 2020.

It was reported in November 2019 that Instagram was also trialling a suspiciously TikTok-like function in Brazil. This short video platform will reportedly be known as Cenas (Portuguese for ‘reels’).

This would not be the first time Facebook has attempted to parrot the functionality of another app – it remains to be seen if TikTok can as easily be brushed aside as Snapchat was with Instagram Stories.

The choice of Brazil is interesting – it is a market which looks set to be a battleground for app developers. Indeed, it’s not just Facebook TikTok needs to fight off. Brazil has been targeted by TikTok’s biggest domestic rival Kuaishou – known as Kwai in international markets. As of early November 2019, Kwai had the momentum, ranking second in Brazil in terms of Google Play downloads, having held the third spot in late October.

TikTok had fallen to seventh, having occupied second at the start of the period.

As of November Kwai counted 7 million daily active users in Brazil. This compares to 18 million active TikTok users (this is a slightly older figure – it is unclear whether this is daily or monthly).

Kuaishou/Kwai has a second app in the Brazilian market: VStatus – ranking first in late October and second in early November in terms of downloads. With 120 million active users, this app – which allows users to make short profile videos for their WhatsApp profile – is one of the most popular in Brazil.

Kwai, it should be noted, is backed by Tencent.

TikTok vs Kwai in Brazil, Google Play ranking Oct-Nov 2019

TikTok vs. Kwai in Brazil, Google Play ranking Oct-Nov 2019

Source: EqualOcean

TikTok Download Statistics

A year before the latest update of this article, we wrote that, unequivocally, 2019 was TikTok’s year. After 2020, it seems we may have jumped the gun. Perhaps at this stage it will be safer to say that the end of the 10s and beginning of the 20s belong to TikTok. Perhaps even longer.

TikTok reached its peak for downloads in Q1 2020, when it was downloaded 315 million times, according to Sensor Tower – more than any other app in history over a single quarter. TikTok downloads exceeded 300 million in Q2 2020. It should be noted that Zoom (Q2 2020) and Pokémon Go (Q3 2016) are the only other apps to register over 300 million downloads in a quarter.

TikTok downloads dropped off in the second half of the year, due to the ban in India, dropping year-on-year. Nonetheless, it remained the most-downloaded app in the world, and was the most-downloaded app in the world over the course of the year. Facebook’s long dominance was finally broken.

These stats, dating back to 2016, show us the incredible rise of TikTok in 2018, and equally incredible sustaining of this peak over 2019. Who knows how big 2020 TikTok download figures could have been had the India ban not occurred.

These stats pertain only to downloads made through the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, so don’t include Chinese third-party downloads. We presume they do include Douyin downloads made on iOS, as TikTok is blocked in China. As we will see later, download stats from China are included.

This means, however, that they do not include Android downloads of Douyin. For reference, Android has a 78% market share in China.

TikTok downloads by quarter, millions

TikTok downloads by quarter, millions

Source: Sensor Tower

We can see the same trends as above if we look at TikTok downloads by month. Here, we see a peak in downloads in March – the first month of widespread coronavirus lockdowns. TikTok downloads numbered 115 million in this month alone.

This was the middle month of a longer five-month peak in TikTok downloads that ran from January to May 2020, each month seeing over 100 million downloads. We can see the India ban bite in July, after which point downloads ranged from 55-66 million per month. Year-on-year, this represents a decline.

TikTok downloads by month, millions