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TikTok's US growth

Half of US adult TikTok users never post video themselves

TikTok is a fast growing social media success story with more than 1.5 billion monthly active users. A new US study shows a minority of avid posters create the vast majority of content on the site. And most users post seldom, if at all – instead using TikTok primarily to view and consume content made by others, according to the study by Pew Research Centre.

TikTok is the fifth most popular social media platform in the world behind Facebook (3.049 billion monthly active users), YouTube (2.491 billion), WhatsApp  (2 billion) and Instagram (2 billion), according to social media marketing company Sprout Social.

The Pew findings come at a time when one-third of US adults say they use the site and a growing share get news on TikTok. 

One of its most recent new subscribers is President Joe Biden who, this election year, has started using the platform despite that the US administration earlier has called it a national security risk and wanted  TikTok’s US assets sold.

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Key findings in the Pew report:

  • A small share of users are responsible for producing the majority of TikTok content. The top 25% of US adults on TikTok by posting volume produce 98% of all publicly accessible videos from this group. This is in line with the Center’s previous research on Twitter users, which found a similar ratio of highly active users creating the majority of content on the platform.
  • The typical TikTok user posts seldom, if ever. About half of all US adults on the site have never posted a video themselves. And the typical user has not added any information to the “bio” field on their account.
  • The posting behaviours of younger adults do not stand out dramatically from other age groups. Users ages 18 to 34 are much more likely than their older counterparts to use TikTok in the first place. But around half of these younger users have ever posted on the site – similar to the share among users ages 35 to 49.
  • Users who have posted videos on TikTok are more active on the platform in general than non-posters. Posters typically follow more users, have more followers themselves, are more likely to have filled out their account bio and are somewhat more likely to find the content of their “For You” page extremely interesting.
  • TikTok users are more likely than not to find their “For You” page interesting. TikTok is defined by its algorithmically curated “For You” page, and users generally like the content the algorithm serves them. Some 40% of users say this content is either extremely or very interesting to them, far more than the 14% in total who say it is not too or not at all interesting.
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