How to create an app like TikTok: Features, Business Model, Cost


At first glance, the market of social media apps is already flooded with existing platforms serving different purposes. We have Spotify for music, Snapchat for photo editing, and Twitch for live streams.

Still, there is always a place for innovations. By combining all the following features, TikTok becomes an awesome source of entertainment, keeping millions of users glued to it.

But how can we turn a business idea into a video social app that brings profit? Read on.

In this article, you will find a step-by-step guide on how to develop and grow a social media video app.

Let’s get started!

What is the TikTok App?

TikTok is a video app social media for live broadcasts, short video clip recording, adding filters or favorite music and sharing on social networks.

Initially, the idea to combine music, video and social networking came to Alex Zhu, a TikTok creator, when he was watching a group of teenagers. They used different applications for listening to favorite songs, taking selfies and short videos, adding stickers and sharing them on social networks. 

He thought that the new generation needs a music app of a completely new format.

It’s impressive, right?

Now, let us take a closer look at how  Tik Tok works and find out why the app became so popular.

The most notable TikTok features overview

TikTok, like other social media platforms, allows users to interact with each other by following, liking and re-sharing content. But it also provides users with other features, including:

Video uploading. Users can upload ready-made videos to their TikTok account, rotate or crop them, and even change the playback speed.

Users can upload ready-made videos to their TikTok account

Image source: Androidfreeware

Video editing. Just like Snapchat, TikTok has an impressive toolset of AR effects for changing the color of the eyes, hair and even adding makeup. There are also many stickers, animations, and masks.

TikTok has an impressive toolset of AR effects for changing the color of the eyes, hair and even adding makeup

Image source: Firstpost

To improve live video broadcasts, TikTok regularly provides users with new online masks.

TikTok regularly provides users with new online masks

Image source: wikiHow

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

Using this premium TikTok feature, video creators can make live streams and receive virtual goods

Image source: ABC

Recording the reaction. TikTokers can record their reaction to other users’ video and publish it in their feed.

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

TikTok users can share all their videos edited in TikTok in their Instagram, YouTube, and FaceBook profi

Image source: Quora

Soundtracks. Users can add a favorite song to their short videos from the built-in TikTok library.

sers can add a favorite song to their short videos

Image source: Lightmv

QR code scanner. To make TikTok users subscribe to each other in a quicker way, the app provides them with a unique QR code.

app provides them with a unique QR code.

Image source: Findgroundmates

Duet Option. All users, who like to sing, enjoy this feature. TikTokers can create a video, add a #duetwithme hashtag and ask other users to duet with them.

All users, who like to sing, enjoy this feature

Image source: Reddit

Geolocation. Using geolocation, the app displays users currently active bloggers broadcasting live, nearby, in an instant.

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

5 steps to develop an app like TikTok

Below we share the most useful tips on how to transform your business idea into a popular app like Tik Tok.

1. Research your target market

To bring an idea for a future social media app to life, 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, the way customers interact with brands, and the main players and trends to be aware of.  Then you need to validate your initial assumptions and adjust your project for the specific business objectives.

But the most important element, which requires 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 the average age of your users, their location, types of devices they are using and their financial situation. In addition, 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 the user's 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.

Now, the next move.

2. How an app like TikTok can make money

When you know who your potential users are, it is time to select your future business model. Below we share several monetization strategies you can adopt for your future music app like TikTok.


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

In-app purchase

TikTok allows its users to support live broadcasters with coins, purchased with real money. The coins can be exchanged for gifts that users can bestow on others during their live streams. Coins are available in bundles from 100 to 10,000 that range 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.


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

  • Cost Per Click. Advertisers pay each time the app users interacts 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 dip into the app development process.

3. Cooperate with the app development team

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

In the first phase of a software project, Discovery Phase 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.

After the discovery phase, your development team should come up with the following project documentation:

Functional requirements that define the ability of the app to perform the defined tasks and how the app will perform while doing a defined task. This document includes information required for designers, developers, quality assurance specialists, and project managers. They might include:

  • Usage cases for every feature;
  • Product vision;
  • Software requirements specification;
  • Feature map;

Non-functional requirements that will specify the future apps ‘quality characteristics’ or ‘quality attributes’. The non-functional requirements for your future app might include the following information:

  • Performance
  • Scalability
  • Responsiveness
  • User-ability
  • Reliability
  • Security
  • Documentation
  • Availability

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

4. Create an MVP

The development of social video application is a complex project. Instead of creating a fully-functional and costly app, we recommend launching your project as an MVP.

With MVP, a minimum viable product launch, you can gather feedback from users and consider them for further app improvement.

Below we have put together a feature list required for social video app MVP and estimation in hours.

MVP feature


Estimation in hours

Basic UI


The design includes only main screen elements.

From 60+ hours


User login

User can log onto the app using 

  • Social network accounts
  • Email and password

From 60 + hours


User profile

The app user can modify 

  • Profile picture 
  • Password
  • Contact details 
  • Name
  • Gender
  • Phone number

From 60+ hours


Geolocation features

Users can share the location where a video or photo was taken.

From 120+ hours



Users can post 

  • Images 
  • Videos


Users can apply editing tools

  • Effects
  • Filters
  • Smileys 
  • Emoticons

Up to 320 hours: 

  • applying filters 120+ hours
  • creating custom filters 120+ hours
  • cropping and rotating photos 80+ hours



Embedding custom search via 

  • Username 
  • Hashtag 

From 60+ hours

Social sharing


Users can share their videos and photos on

  • Instagram
  • Facebook 
  • Twitter


From 120+ hours




From 800 + hours


 Consider that developers from different regions have different 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 developers average rate is $15-20 per hour.

So let us move to the next phase and find out about ways to grow your app.

5. Grow your app

Below we have gathered the most effective ways to attract users to your social media app.

App Store Optimization (ASO). With over 561 million daily application downloads, application marketplaces remain #1 driver of app discovery. You can use app marketplaces to bring new users to your app. But to improve app marketplace search ranking, you need to optimize your application with app store optimization that includes:

  • Adding relevant keywords in the app title tag
  • Posting a mix of eye-catching screenshots
  • Creating a recognizable app icon
  • By writing an engaging app description you can drive a significant amount of high-quality traffic to your app.

Organic Mobile User Acquisition. To increase app user acquisition, you can funnel traffic from organic channels such as website and social media profiles to your app store page.

For that you can use:

  • Smart banners. Such banners will lead mobile website visitors to your mobile application, or the app 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 app installs by 150%.*. You can create different ads and call to action to nurture potential users from the awareness stage to app downloads.

Now, let us tell you about our recent social media app project.

The App Solution experience

Our latest social media project is QuePro, a public chat mobile app that will connect users with professionals from various spheres.  

  • QuePro allows users to post their queries or questions and receive answers from local professionals. 
  • To speed up the development process, we used EventBus, an open-source event library that simplifies communication between components and performs well with UI artifacts.
  • We also enabled the app by sending notifications to users using Google Cloud Messaging.
  • Despite tight deadlines, we managed to implement the key features after just 3 months.

As a result, the client received a fully-functional and scalable social media app that met their business goals perfectly.


Since social video apps are extremely popular among teenagers, you can use some of TikTok’s mechanics for your mobile app and make it profitable. For that, you can adopt several business models as described above.

However, to turn a business idea into an app, you need to go through the discovery phase and define the project goals, functional and nonfunctional requirements, as well as a project roadmap.

For complex projects, as social media platforms, we recommend developing an MVP with a set of basic features and simple design.

Still, even with MVP, you can attract new users to your app via app marketplaces, organic acquisition, and paid advertising. 

But there is one important thing left. 

To bring your business idea into reality, you need to find your perfect tech partner who will deal with all the development tasks.

And The App Solutions is ready to help you at all stages. Push the button below and tell us more about your mobile app idea.

Do you have mobile app idea?

Contact us

Olexandra Balitskaya

SEO Specialist

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