Managing Platform Business Growth: A Case Study of TikTok

Ruofu Wang

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Purpose: This case study provides knowledge of the management of a multi-sided platform, by showing the ways that TikTok has been employing to increase its user growth and business value.
Design: This study is grounded on a critical realism perspective and adopts a qualitative case study approach. Evidence is primarily grounded on TikTok’s press release from 2018 to the first quarter of 2020, and secondary sources such as the interviews of the former President of TikTok on his insights into the management of a multi-sided platform, TikTok global user download numbers by Quarter, and archival analysis reports of TikTok’s growth.
Findings: A set of strategies have been obtained in TikTok’s management of the platform. Firstly, it is found that TikTok largely utilised three ways to grow its user numbers, including developing necessary product features to satisfy users preferences, creating a unique marketing campaign based on a killer feature, hashtag challenge, and growing social media celebrities on the platform. Moreover, TikTok is able to sustain its growth by engaging users into the platform evolution process, such as listening to their ideas and feedback, and improving the user experience accordingly. Additionally, TikTok’s collaboration with external business partners enabled the platform to gain monetary return and promote its brand identity further. Last but not least, with the aid of artificial intelligence technology, TikTok is capable of facilitate user interactions to keep users active on the platform and thus draw more traction.
Value: Many research has been discussing platform business in the areas of its definition, formation, and strategies. However, few case studies have been conducted to investigate the dynamics of operating a platform business. Apart from that, even though TikTok has experienced exponential user number growth in the past years, the studies around that is insufficient. Therefore, by doing a single case study of TikTok, and looking into the strategies it has been implementing to drive its growth, this paper can give new insights of the management of a platform business in reality.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages85
SupervisorsChee-Wee Tan