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3 Apps Borrowing TikTok’s Formula for Their Own Industry

As TikTok continues dominating young people’s social media consumption, these three apps are taking a note from the platform’s short-form video strategy… 


  • Over half of Gen Z and Millennials are watching social media video content weekly
  • TikTok is (no surprise here) these gens’ preferred app
  • Up-and-coming apps are taking a note from TikTok by integrating their own short-form video strategy to reach young audiences

Since taking the social media industry by storm in 2019, TikTok has quickly become Gen Z and Millennials’ No. 1 favorite app. Shortly after the app blew up among young consumers, YPulse reported that TikTok copycats were popping up everywhere, as other media apps attempted to borrow from the winning formula of vertical, scrollable short video. In the years since, some of those copycats (cough, Instagram Reels, cough) have become massive successes themselves. Now, Instagram is reportedly testing a “TikTok-like” full-screen social feed, borrowing inspiration again from the rival app.

But it’s not just other social apps that are following TikTok’s playbook. Short-form video content is booming across industries for a number of reasons, and TikTok-like apps tackling everything from beauty to real estate have been popping up to appeal to Gen Z and Millennials’ love of short-form video approach. Here are three apps that want to be the TikTok of their industry.

Also known as the TikTok of beauty shopping, social commerce app Flip launched in 2019 and has been attracting a growing number of beauty brands to sell through its short-form video shopping experience. Just like TikTok, users are greeted with an endless newsfeed of video content entirely dedicated to beauty. The platform functions as an etailer, offering a one-click checkout for multiple brands while storing items across its two warehouses and shipping orders in branded packaging. Flip has amassed 1 million app downloads and has shipped more than 30,000 orders. Brands from Jouer, to Hourglass, Dominque Cosmetics, and I’m Meme have been covered on the app by influencers. The platform benefits creators who talk about beauty brands on the app, too, as it monetizes content for anyone on the platform—regardless of their follower count. Though Flip’s primary focus is beauty right now, it will potentially expand to other categories “down the line.” Flip’s CEO and Founder, Noor Agha, tells Glossy the app aims to “uphold the feeling of authenticity and honesty that TikTok is known for in its beauty content,” and popular influencers like beauty TikToker Jackie Flores and makeup artist Sasha Karagianis are known for promoting beauty brands on Flip. Plus, the platform can monetize content for anyone on Flip—regardless of their follower count. YPulse’s beauty research found that beauty content is a big part of young consumers’ online entertainment, and Flip’s beauty-centric video marketplace could be a boon for brands looking to reach Gen Z and Millennials.

Playhouse is a “TikTok-ified” Zillow making the future of home shopping more engaging—and educational—for the next generation of owners. Designed as a platform where users can vertically scroll through home listings, Playhouse is a short-form video app where people can learn about the market and gain insightful home-buying tips from real estate professionals. Upon entering the app, users can browse a feed of homes on the market and their price tag, along with a map of available listings. As users scroll, they can guess whether the price Playhouse gives is higher or lower than the actual listing price—a gamified feature designed to teach future home buyers about the market. Current home buyers can also use the app to see how their home is performing in their neighborhood. The platform is currently in beta testing and has already secured $2.8 million in seed funding. Playhouse’s goal is to build its content out so users can view user-generated clips of homes / tips, but until then the platform will curate its video feed. We told you how experts like therapists, teachers, and more have been using TikTok to educate young people, and it’s only a matter of time before more industries pick up the short-form video strategy to reach niche markets of young people.

Startup Playbyte launched as an iOS app in fall 2021 as a “TikTok for games” destination. Its design mimics TikTok’s vertically scrollable feed, but instead of videos, the app allows users to create, share, and play games. And just like the TikTok algorithm, a user’s feed becomes personalized over time to meet their gaming preferences. Playbyte’s games are created by using simple building blocks, emojis, and images from a user’s Camera Roll, and the idea of the app is to allow users to express themselves via game creation. Users can also like and comment after playing a game, making the app more than just a gaming platform by incorporating social media-like features. With TikTok being one of young consumers’ favorite apps, and more brands leaning into gaming, Playbyte could capture the next gen’s attention.

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