How To Launch An App Like Tik Tok

Tik Tok seemed to have secured the position as #1 app in the video-sharing category… or at least that’s what it looked like up until recently. Large-scale hacker attack, which has left 40+ million of its user accounts unprotected, plus content concerns, country bans, and numerous lawsuits have significantly shaken the platform’s position as the invincible global leader.

“Long live the king!”, as they say. So if you’ve ever wanted to build an app like Tik Tok, now is your golden moment. In this article, you will find some tips on how to turn your startup idea into a thriving business enterprise.

Step 1: Lay The Groundwork

The first step to building a booming video-sharing app similar to Tik Tok is getting down to the nitty-gritty of the market and your target audience. The major activity that should be in the spotlight at this stage, is comprehensive research into the needs of your potential users, as well as the advantages and flaws of your future competitors.

Meet Your Target Audience

Learning more about the people that will be using your app, will help you to create a valuable product that is meticulously crafted to satisfy their needs and wants. To gather the necessary info, you can start by defining your customers’ age, gender, race, educational level, and geographical location.

When you have their demographic profile, find out what they do, what are their hobbies and entertainment preferences, what type of devices they use, what is their stance on app security, utility and so on. Answers to those questions are the key to understanding what motivates your ideal customer to download the app and encourages him/her to keep using it.

Know Your Rivals

To find your niche in the market you should know who’s already there and what they do to attract their clientele. Examine your competitors’ strong sides, and learn about the mistakes they made along the way so that you don’t fall into the same trap. Here are some popular social video apps you should take a closer look at:


With over 200 million users and a 27% share of the U.S. short-form video market, Dubsmash got pretty hard on TikTok’s heels. Upon its release in 2014, this social network went viral as the best lip-syncing app. The platform has an impressive library of trending sounds allowing its users to create videos of themselves dubbing over popular songs, TV shows, movie quotes, or Internet memes.


Funimate’s minimalistic design, intuitive navigation, and a great collection of visual effects won the hearts of over 40 million users from all over the world. The app is packed with advanced features for cutting, trimming and merging different video clips, which makes it is a perfect video-editing tool.


Triller allows users to show off their creative genius by making professional short videos with the help of an auto-editing tool. The AI-powered algorithm automatically stitches separate video records and synchronizes the clip with the background music. Content creators can choose the audio track for their publication from over 80 million songs available on the app’s library.

Step 2: Choose The Business Model For Your Tiktok-like App

Now that you have the idea of how your startup can gain its footing on the market, it’s time to think about your business plan. You can use this checklist as a prompt to define the monetization strategy for your video-sharing app:

  • How is your revenue generated?
  • What are your major expenses?
  • What are the key success factors of your business?
  • Have you secured enough investments to ensure you can sustain the project through its initial negative cash flow?

Combining the answers to those questions will enable you to see the full picture of how the money is made, where it comes from and how it is spent. That will help you to strike the right balance between the value of your product for the customers and your own revenue goals.

Most companies that decide to create a Tik Tok clone, simply choose to mimic its business model, which is based on ads and in-app purchasing.


Initially, there were no paid ads on TikTok. This feature was introduced only last year but the reward wasn’t long in coming. In 2019 the platform earned a whopping $176.9 million, which is 71% of its all-time total revenue.

TikTok for Business currently offers five promotional formats: brand takeovers, in-feed content, top view, hashtag challenges, and branded effects.

In-App Purchase

Before advertising, in-app purchases were the primary source of revenue for the Chinese-based social network. The app still brings in about $5.5 million per month through the sale of its virtual currency. TikTokers mainly use this virtual money to buy and send digital gifts to each other. Users purchase the so-called coins in bundles from 100 to 10,000, with their price tag varying from 99 cents to $99.99.

Step 3: Get The Team That Can Build An App Like Tik Tok

Once you have come up with the ultimate business plan for your startup, you need to put together the super team that will bring your vision into life. Creating a social media app like Tik Tok is an intricate process, that requires the professional expertise of various IT specialists, including:

  • UI/UX designer. The designer’s task is to combine all the ideas regarding the platform’s user roles, and its visual and functional amenities, to draw up the concept of the future application. This is the basis for the whole development process. The designer also visualizes the app’s interface, creating the page layout, menus, navigation, tabs, buttons, etc.
  • App developers. You’ll need several developers with different specializations to kick start the project. Depending on the type of application you plan to make, you might have to bring on board iOS, Android and/or web developers. They will help you to finalize the application’s features, choose the technology stack, and define the scope of work required to build an app like Tik Tok.
  • Q&A engineer. Before releasing the app, get a technical specialist to test its performance. If there are any flaws, bugs, errors, or crashes those issues should be addressed and fixed by the developers’ team.
  • Project manager. A project manager is the person who makes sure that the app development process is completed on time. The PM is in charge of planning the project workflow, setting its milestones, and establishing efficient communication and cooperation between various members of the development unit.

There are three main options to assemble your dream team: hire an in-house IT squad, work with freelancers, or cooperate with an outsourcing company. Your decision at this stage can greatly affect the final result and the overall cost.

Having an in-house team serves as a guarantee that you will get exactly what you want. But on the other hand, this creates some financial distress, because in addition to paying regular wages you will also have to shell out for office rent, computing equipment, software, and so on. Hiring independent contractors is a feasible solution for short and mid-term projects or those with a tough budget. Outsourcing is the most cost-efficient way how to make an app like Tik Tok without compromising the product’s quality.

Step 4: Move To MVP Development Phase

If you want to test your social video mobile app in the flesh, but you still need to raise extra funds to create a fully-featured version, you can launch your project in the form of a minimum viable product. MVP is often defined as a combination of the app’s basic functional specs, and it helps to acquire early bird signups, receive valuable users’ feedback, and attract the attention of the potential investors.

Collect and combine ideas from across multiple brainstorming sessions, and then together with your development team create the ultimate list of features you’d like to have in your application. When you’re done with that, leave out all the time-consuming and sophisticated elements. You can come back to them later on, but for MVP you have to focus on the essentials only. Here is a list of the must-have items you should funnel your efforts to:

  • Authorization. It’s better to provide several options for the video creators to join your app community. Some may find it easier to register through other social media accounts, while others may prefer to sign up via email or phone number.
  • Profile settings. This section enables users to set their profile picture and username, add personal information, change password, switch the language, block other users, and choose between private or public accounts.
  • Video uploading. Let users interact with your app by posting their video clips and writing short descriptions to enhance their narrative. Make sure that the content creation process is as quick and intuitive as possible.
  • Video editing. Apart from basic video-editing toolset that covers such functions as crop, rotate, change the playback speed, invest your time and effort into developing some fancy filters and trending visual effects.
  • Sharing. If you want to grow your customer base, allow your users to link their profile to their accounts on other business social media networks. Once they start sharing their publications on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Whatsapp their friends and followers are likely to flock to your platform as well.
  • Reactions. Likes and comments have long become the measure of popularity for posts on social media. They also serve as the main means of interaction between content creators and their subscribers. So to enhance the chances of your brainchild turning into a vibrant community of video makers, don’t forget to equip your app with these features.

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