Detailed Guide on How to Create an App Like TikTok

Difficulty: Intermediate

Estimated Completion Time: 15 minutes

Social media captivates our attention every day by providing an infinite supply of engaging content. Everyone can find something they like. That’s the exact reason why adults in the U.S. spent about 8 hours a day on digital media in 2021.

TikTok is one of the reasons people scroll through their feeds infinitely. Millions of videos are uploaded to the platform daily, showing that there is a lot of interest in this concept.

Read on to find out how to make an app like TikTok, the required features & technologies, and the actual cost of building an app of this type.

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How Popular is TikTok’s App?

In 2021, TikTok reported reaching 1 billion users from all around the world. The largest segments of the active audience came from China with 600 million users and the United States with 136.5 million users. The number will probably keep on growing with each year.

Another breathtaking number is that TikTok users watch 167,000,000 videos per minute. This demonstrates the level of engagement and proves that TikTok is truly the leading social media platform.

Backstage at TikTok: How Does It Work?

TikTok uses a complex recommendation algorithm to display content that would be the most engaging for a user. The goal is to keep the user within the app for as long as possible, providing more and more videos based on individual preferences.

The application uses machine learning to build accurate suggestions based on three factors: user interactions, video information, and device data. Let’s have a closer look.

User Interactions

This is the “heaviest” factor that determines the content shown in a user’s feed. It estimates your interest in certain types of content based on:

  • Likes, shares, and follows;
  • Videos added to “favorites”;
  • Published content;
  • Comments;
  • Videos flagged as “not interesting”.

One more point is how long you watch the video. Watching a video entirely shows the algorithm that the user has a strong interest in this type of content, making it add more topics of the kind to the feed. Simultaneously, skipping the video flags such content as “uninteresting”. 

Video Information

User interactions are then combined with video information to ensure that only relevant content is shown. TikTok assesses the contents of a video based on:

  • Captions with keywords related to the topic;
  • Hashtags that categorize the content and provide additional info;
  • Audio that helps the algorithm identify trends.

Hashtags are probably among the most important elements here. Apart from providing the algorithm with additional data, videos with hashtags are also shown to more users. TikTok currently lets users subscribe to certain hashtags, so it is another instrument to choose preferences.

Device Data

While this factor is the least important, it also influences what a user sees in their feed.

Some elements include:

  • Device type;
  • Country settings;
  • Language preferences.

If you set English as your language and are located in the US, you are unlikely to see content in French or Italian. However, this may be changed by choosing the language settings in TikTok.

What Features Should an App Like TikTok Have?

Developing an app similar to TikTok requires understanding which features make TikTok so engaging.

1.Video Uploading

Users must be able to upload content to their accounts. That’s the driving force of all similar platforms. TikTok’s current restrictions limit the length of ready-made videos to 10 minutes, allowing creators to come up with all kinds of creative ideas.

2.Video Editing

The platform must provide different editing tools for creators to tailor content better. TikTok allows users to apply various filters & effects, retouch, speed up, and trim their videos. Some other features involve adding music and applying templates.

3.Live Streaming

Live streams allow people to interact with a large audience in real time, building a strong sense of community. There are no limits on topics. From Q&A sessions to gaming nights, the only important thing is that everyone has fun. TikTok allows people to donate to streamers during live sessions.

4.Sharing Options

Sharing content is a must. It’s a way to attract more users to the platform and keep people engaged with the app for a longer timeframe. That’s why there should be a possibility to share content internally and externally. It is best if external sources include all popular social media.

5.Discovery & Search

The “Discovery” section shows trending content that’s gaining popularity very quickly. It’s a must-have to increase user engagement and promote the creation of quality content. The search option is also necessary so that people could find accounts, topics, and hashtags of their interest.

6.Other Features

There are hundreds of features required to develop an app like TikTok or even better. Some additional options that must be mentioned are:

  • Account creation;
  • Profile editing;
  • Recommendation algorithm;
  • Comment sections;
  • Notifications.

If you aim to conquer the market, you need to think of a concept that brings something unique and wins where TikTok has flaws. That’s how you can potentially grab a share of the giant’s audience.

What Technologies Are Needed to Make an App Like TikTok?

You need a powerful tech stack to build an app like TikTok. There are multiple technologies required for each aspect. While they might differ, the suggestions below are the most optimal choice.

Prototyping

Apps like Balsamiq or Figma are good for creating wireframes of your software. It’s necessary to estimate the app before realization.
Designing

Designers usually use Figma, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and many other tools to create UI/UX for your software.
Project Management

Management is required to keep all processes working, and you updated. Tools like Google Suit, Jira, Hubspot, and others are used.
Web Hosting

Tools like Google Cloud and AWS are used to make your software available to millions of users simultaneously.
Database Management

Developers use SQL, MongoDB, and Cassandra to manage databases effectively.
Programming

A lot depends on the individual choice of a company. Usually, it’s Swift, Kotlin for both OS.
Storage

You need a secure place to store all data from personal information to content. Amazon S3 is one of the options.
Backend

Software like TikTok has its backend usually developed using Node.Js or Python.

Notifications

There are different ways of sending notifications, but the most popular options are Google Cloud Messaging and Apple Push Notifications.
Testing

There are dozens of QA tools like Testsigma, Selenium, Eggplant, and others to ensure your software is bug-free.
Analytics

You should know what’s going on within the app, so Google Mobile App Analytics or Azure stream analytics is what you need.
AR Filters

AR Filters are a must for an app like TikTok, so you’ll need ML Kit and ARCore for development.

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5 Steps to Developing an App Like TikTok

Now that we’ve checked out the basic features and technologies, it is time to find out how to develop an app like TikTok in five steps. Below are the general steps required for success.

1.Research

Market analysis sets the foundation for your future application. Your first step must include research on your competitors like TikTok, Likee, KWAI, Instagram, and other apps with similar features. This is important to choose the right features for your app and determine your marketing strategy.

There is no sense in building a complete TikTok clone. Ask yourself as a user: “Why should I use this app when I already have TikTok?” You would only move to something that’s better, more interesting, and more engaging. That’s what you should aim to create.

During this stage, you must also determine your target audience. Avoid using general settings like “males aged 18” because they bring no value to your research. Focus on interests and behaviors. These provide a deeper insight into your potential user base. 

The two options to consider when building a user portrait are:

  • Demographic profile. This type of segmentation includes age, location, device OS, financial status, and other related data. It is required to help you build a general image.
  • Behavioral data. You must understand the driving force behind each user’s decision. This section includes interests, expectations, needs, and other similar information.

This data will help you improve your marketing efforts and provide a personalized experience for each user. It is one of the cornerstones of developing a successful application.

2.Monetization

When considering creating an alternative for TikTok, you probably aim to reach the same profitability. That’s why it is necessary to determine your software’s monetization models.

TikTok mostly earns money from these models:

  • In-app purchases. TikTok lets users support streamers by buying digital gifts within the platform. These are purchased with coins that are bought for real money. You can come up with other types of microtransactions like unlocking fonts, profile backgrounds, etc.
  • Advertising. TikTok regularly shows users ads of all kinds. These include in-feed ads, brand takeovers, TopView, branded effects, and other types. Ad revenue comes as the dominant source of income for this platform.

Think of all the ideas you could implement. Avoid significant paywalls to provide a good user experience. If you focus on income too much and hide all features behind payments, you will drive most users away. Try finding the perfect balance.

3.Design & Development

Now that you’ve gathered some data for the app’s basics, it’s time to start collaborating with an outsourcing development team. Most companies start by estimating the project requirements, conducting business analysis, choosing the tech stack, providing estimates, and planning the development steps.

During this stage, you should create a wireframe that shows how your app works and what it looks like. This will help you implement any required changes before the actual development begins. Once that is confirmed, proceed to build the software’s MVP.

A minimum viable product (MVP) is needed to test your idea and determine where to invest in future development. Only must-have features are added at this phase. This lets you validate the whole concept of the software while minimizing expenses before you get a clear vision.

The MVP should include the following:

  • Account registration;
  • Profile settings;
  • Basic UI;
  • Photo & video creation and uploading;
  • Search options;
  • Sharing options.

All features combined take about 600 hours to develop. You can modify the functions you include in your MVP, but remember that it must involve all the basics of a social media app.

4.MVP Deployment

Publish your MVP on all possible platforms to see what the community thinks about it. You should gather user feedback to define the future development path. Some features may be removed after this stage, and that’s absolutely normal.

Apart from validating your idea, you will also understand whether the chosen technologies are a good match for your expectations in terms of performance and throughput. It is extremely important that potential issues in these regards are detected as soon as possible. This will help you avoid losing thousands of dollars.

Note that testing your MVP requires having an interested audience. While you can test the app by hiring QA engineers, the true validation can only work with your target audience. People will provide you with the deepest insights in terms of usability, engaging features, and boring parts. 

That’s why you need to start marketing your idea slightly before the MVP is created. There are no limitations in terms of the number of people using your MVP. The more, the better. You need to get maximum from your target audience to build a top-notch product.

5.Marketing & Maintenance

Now you gradually turn your MVP into a whole product with all must-have and nice-to-have features. It is time to focus on full-fledged marketing and maintenance.

Advertising is essential to attract a large audience. People won’t find out about your application unless you spread the word, so you must set a decent budget to cover all major digital channels. Some ideas include:

  • Targeted ads on social media;
  • Collaborations with bloggers;
  • Growing your own social media pages.

At the same time, you must keep on developing your app by fixing issues and adding new features. You will definitely come across multiple ideas to implement, so your development team will have quite a lot of work to do. Just don’t let the app stagnate. Keep it growing!

How Much Does it Cost to Create an App Similar to TikTok?

Now we’re reaching the most interesting part of our guide to develop an app like TikTok. Below you’ll find a price sheet that estimates the costs related to each part of the process.

Types of WorkAndroidiOSBack-endPrice
Developing Features1,000 hour1,000 hour1,000 hours$125,000
Integrating
Frameworks & Libraries
160 hours160 hours160 hours$20,000
UI/UX Design240 hours240 hours$12,000
Testing and QA
250 hours250 hours250 hours$15,000
Project Management
300 hours300 hours280 hours$17,600
Total1,950 hours1,950 hours1,690 hours$189,600

The price is calculated considering the average costs of hiring a development team from Ukraine. This is about $35 per hour. Note that the number may differ depending on various factors.

Consider Weelorum Your Trusted Partner in Developing Your Mobile App

Weelorum is your trusted tech partner with immense expertise in mobile app development. Our team has an extensive background working on software for Android and iOS, providing market-winning products to clients worldwide. Our case studies prove that.

Here’s how we work:

  • Guiding you to success. We help you choose the most suitable technologies that make your application fast, responsive, and effective.
  • Writing quality code. We develop software using modern standards to provide a scalable solution with maximum performance.
  • Improving your idea. We share our expertise to help you build an app that keeps users engaged and becomes the market leader.

Our team has already successfully developed social media software in our Photo Copy project. We’ll gladly share the experience to help you build a market-winning solution.

Want to develop an app like TikTok?
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Final Thoughts

Now you know how to build an app like TikTok. This is a process that requires extensive research and a decent degree of creativity to beat all the competition. However, creating a similar application is not a challenge when you collaborate with the right developers. That’s why you need to partner with a reliable tech provider.

FAQ

  • Can I build an app like TikTok myself?

There are many no-code platforms that don’t require technical skills. However, these let you combine only standard solutions. If you want to get a custom app with a breathtaking design and engaging features, then you should collaborate with a professional team.

  • How much does it cost to build a TikTok clone?

The price may be anything between $100,000 and $200,000 depending on your needs. Each project’s price is calculated individually. 

  • Can I create something better than TikTok?

Yes, your imagination is the only limit. Analyze TikTok’s flaws, build a more engaging concept, and hire a team to bring the idea to life. Weelorum is always there to back you up with cutting-edge technologies and expertise.

Table of content
How Popular is TikTok’s App?Backstage at TikTok: How Does It Work?What Features Should an App Like TikTok Have?What Technologies Are Needed to Make an App Like TikTok?5 Steps to Developing an App Like TikTokHow Much Does it Cost to Create an App Similar to TikTok? Consider Weelorum Your Trusted Partner in Developing Your Mobile AppFinal ThoughtsFAQ
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