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How Much does it Cost to Develop an App like TikTok?

How Much does it Cost to Develop an App like TikTok?

Written by Niel · 6 min read >

We have Spotify for music, Snapchat for photo editing, and Twitch for live streams. But, there is always a place for innovations. An example is TikTok, which has become an excellent entertainment source, keeping millions of users glued to it.

How to transform a business idea into profitable apps like TikTok? In this article, we’ll guide you through a step-by-step guide on how to develop and grow the best TikTok alternatives.

What is the TikTok App?

what is a ticktok mobile app

TikTok is a video sharing application for broadcasting live video streams, recording short video clips, adding filters or favorite music, and sharing the results on social networks.

The idea to combine music, video sharing, and social networking in one mobile application came to Alex Zhu, a TikTok creator. He saw that teenagers used different apps to listen to music, take selfies and record short videos, and share them with friends.

He thought that the new generation needs a music app to create short videos, which was an innovative app’ format.

Now, let us take a closer look at how Tik Tok works and why this video-sharing app has become so popular.

The most notable features for apps like TikTok

TikTok provides its users with social media functionality, including following, sending likes, and re-sharing content. But the app also provides users with advanced features apps like TikTok must include for delivering a similar user experience.

Thus, the best TikTok alternatives must include the following feature list:

Video uploading. As a user, you can upload ready-made video content (up to 15 seconds) to your TikTok account, rotate or crop it, change the playback speed, and share your videos with friends.

tiktok video uploading tool

Video editing tools. Just like Snapchat, TikTok allows users to edit their videos applying an impressive toolset of video effects for changing the color of the eyes, and even lip-syncing videos. There are also many stickers, animations, slow-motion effects, and masks.

tiktok video editing tools

Live streaming. Using this premium TikTok feature, video creators can make live streams and receive virtual goods from their fans purchased with TikTok Coins.

tiktok live brodcasts

Reactions. TikTokers use the app to create videos with their response to music videos made by others and publish them in the feed.

Social sharing. TikTokers share all their videos edited in TikTok on their Instagram, YouTube, and FaceBook profiles.

tiktok social sharing

Sounds. Allows TikTokers to create short videos by adding favorite songs as background music from the built-in TikTok library and apply a lip-syncing feature.

QR code scanner. Users can subscribe to other music video app users by scanning a unique QR code.

qr tiktok scanner

Duet Option. TikTok users, or TikTokers, can create music videos with lip-sync, add a #duetwithme hashtag, and ask other users to duet with them.

duet tiktok fucntionality

Geolocation. Using geolocation, the app displays active bloggers nearby, who create short videos and broadcast streams.

Now let us see how to create a music video app and make it profitable.

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Five steps to developing an app like TikTok

Below we share steps on turning your business idea into a video editing app like TikTok.

Step 1. Research the target market

To bring an idea for a  social media app with music videos, you need to conduct research and find out more about your target market. As a result, you will receive a clear picture of the market dynamics, how customers interact with brands, leading players, and trends to be aware of. Then, you need to validate your initial assumptions and adjust your project for the business objectives.

But the critical element of which require a thorough understanding is your target audience. The first step to your goal is to receive more insights into your target audience. For that, you should research:

  • Demographic profile. You need to learn your users’ average age, their location, types of their devices, and the financial situation. It would be great to find out how often they have access to a reliable internet connection.
  • Behavioral trends. While every app is unique, you can still spot a couple of trends you can apply to your future app. Such trends include decreasing users’ desire to download something, rapidly decreasing patience for slow loading times, low tolerance for lack of security, high value on the app utility, and so on.

To create a better product that will respond to your users’ wants and needs, we recommend creating a buyer persona, a concrete portrait of your ideal users.

Step 2. Choose the monetization model 

When you know who is your potential users, it is time to select your future business model for one of the best TikTok alternatives. Below we share several monetization strategies you can adopt for your video editing music app like TikTok.

Fundraising. At the initial stage of your project, you can attract investment with fundraising since fundraising is the process of collecting money as donations from individuals and businesses. Even for TikTok, fundraising is one of the earning premium modes. Recently, high-class investors funded the app with $3 billion.

In-app purchases. TikTok allows its users to support live broadcasters with in-app purchases of coins, bought for real money. Followers exchange coins for gifts and bestow them to others during their live streams. Coins are available in bundles from 100 to 10,000, ranging in price from 99 cents to $99.99. According to Sensor Tower data, the 100 coin bundle is the most popular among users, followed by the 500 coin bundle priced at $4.99. You can use the same monetization strategy for your future app.

Advertising is another option for the app monetization that includes several types of in-app advertising, such as:

  • Cost Per Click. Advertisers pay each time users to interact with the ads in their app.
  • Cost Per Mille. The app owner charges advertisers for every 1,000 impressions of their ad inside the mobile app.
  • Cost Per Action. Advertisers pay only for clicks that lead to a specified action, such as an app install, a form submission, website registration, or newsletter signup.

Now, when you know your future business model, let us dive into the app development process.

Step 3. Hire an app development team

With the target audience research and business model in hand, you need to contact the development team and start the project discovery phase.

The first phase of a software project is the Discovery Phase that involves business analysis and requirements elicitation, technology stack choice, cost estimation, and project planning.

During the Discovery(Inception) Phase, we usually conduct the following activities, which might vary more or less depending on requirements:

  • Define the project scope, main features of the future software, and business priorities
  • Create an app development workflow, taking into account the monetization strategy
  • Identify main app features and user roles
  • Design a future app concept

Next, the team will prioritize the app’s features, create project milestones, and develop the project’s MVP.

Step 4. Create an MVP for a TikTok alternative

The social video application development is a complex project. Thus, instead of building a fully-functional and costly app, we recommend launching a TikTok alternative as an MVP or a minimum viable product. In this way, you can determine how users like your alternative to TikTok and consider their feedback for further project improvement.

Below we have put together a feature list required for developing the MVP of the best TikTok alternatives and estimation in hours.

MVP featureDescriptionEstimation in hours
Basic UIThe design includes only main screen elements.From 60+ hours
User loginSocial network accounts Email and passwordFrom 60 + hours
User profileThe app user can modify    Profile picture Password Contact details Name Gender Phone numberFrom 60+ hours
Geolocation featuresUsers can share the location where users took video content or photos.From 120+ hours
Image and video creationUsers can post    Images Videos Users can apply editing tools Effects (lip-syncing, stickers, and text) Filters Smileys EmoticonsUp to 320 hours:    applying filters 120+ hours creating custom filters 120+ hours cropping and rotating photos 80+ hours
SearchEmbedding custom search via    Username HashtagFrom 60+ hours
Social sharingUsers can share their videos and photos on    Instagram Facebook TwitterFrom 120+ hours
Total From 800 + hours

Want to estimate your app?

Use the project cost calculator

The final price for a video creation application depends on many factors, including developers’ regions and hourly rates:

  • Developers from the US, England, and Australia charge from $150 per hour.
  • In Eastern Europe, the average developer rate starts from $35 per hour.
  • Indian developer’s average rate is $15-20 per hour.

Step 5. Grow your app

Below we have gathered the most effective ways to make TikTok alternatives as popular as the original app.

App Store Optimization (ASO). With over 561 million daily application downloads, application marketplaces remain the #1 driver of application discovery. You can use app marketplaces, such as Google Play and App Store, to bring new customers to your app. But to improve application marketplace search ranking, you need to optimize your application.

The following application marketplace optimization tips are effective for driving a significant amount of high-quality traffic to TikTok alternatives:

  • Adding relevant keywords in the title tag
  • Posting a mix of eye-catching screenshots
  • Creating a recognizable icon
  • Writing an engaging description

Organic Mobile User Acquisition. To increase user acquisition in TikTok alternatives, you can retarget traffic from organic channels as website and social media profiles to the application marketplace’s page.

For this purpose, you can use:

  • Smart banners. Such banners will lead mobile website visitors to your mobile application or the page in the marketplace.
  • Content marketing. For this strategy, you need to create high-quality content, including infographics, blog posts, or videos, around topics popular among your target audience.

Paid Advertising. By running paid ads in social media, PPC campaigns via Google Adwords, and cross-promotions with partner apps, you can boost installs of your alternative to TikTok by 150%.*. You can create different ads and call to action to nurture potential customers from the awareness stage to the application downloading.

The App Solution experience with social media platforms

One of our clients built a mobile social app with public chat that will connect professionals from different industries. That is how the QuePro mobile application appeared. To meet the goals of the client’s business, we have implemented the following features:

  • Creating two types of profiles – for service providers and clients
  • Posting queries or questions and receiving answers from specialists
  • Detecting the user location via Google Maps SDK to show relevant professionals nearby
  • Sending notifications using Google Cloud Messaging

To develop the project under strict deadlines, we implemented EventBus, an open-source event library that simplifies communication between components and improves UI artifacts’ performance. As a result, we build the project with essential features in just three months.

Developing alternatives to TikTok: The final thought

Since social video apps are top-rated among teenagers, you can use some of TikTok’s mechanics for your video creation mobile software and make it profitable. For that, you can adopt business models, as described above.

But, to build a social media app, you need to go through the discovery phase. This phase requires defining the project goals, functional and non-functional requirements, and a project roadmap. As we have said, to create complex projects, such as TikTok alternatives, we recommend developing an MVP with a set of basic features and simple design. The MVP will help you to attract new customers to your app via app marketplaces, organic acquisition, and paid advertising.

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