The Rise of Social Location Platforms and TikTok's Unprecedented Growth: A Deep Dive


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 30, 2023

3 min read


The Rise of Social Location Platforms and TikTok's Unprecedented Growth: A Deep Dive


Over the years, we have witnessed the emergence of various social networks centered around location and content creation. From Atly, aiming to be the Reddit for real-world locations, to TikTok, which has surpassed the likes of Snapchat and Netflix, these platforms have reshaped the way we connect, discover, and consume content. In this article, we will explore the commonalities between these platforms and delve into the unique strategies that have propelled their success. We will also provide actionable advice for product developers based on their growth stories.

Social Location Platforms: Atly's Unique Approach:

Atly, previously known as Steps, has positioned itself as the next social paradigm for mapping and discovering places to go. With its recent rebranding and $18 million in funding, Atly aims to create a community-driven platform akin to Reddit and Google Maps. The key to Atly's success lies in its ability to engage the community, allowing them to create map-centric communities and share them with friends, family, and social media followers. By providing tools for monetization and community management, Atly plans to generate revenue by charging community managers for these services. This approach differentiates it from search-and-review platforms like Google Maps and Yelp, which lack the expansiveness, depth, and trustworthiness of true social platforms.

TikTok's Unprecedented Growth: The Middle Platform and Content Flywheel:

TikTok's journey to becoming a global sensation can be attributed to several key factors. First, ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, developed a "middle platform" that allowed it to leverage information from its existing app, Toutiao, thereby fueling TikTok's early growth. By centralizing its recommendations across products, ByteDance created a strong user base that copycats like Reels struggle to compete with. Additionally, TikTok's unique approach to social media entertainment content, focusing on casually created content in the long tail, set it apart from other platforms. By applying recommendation algorithms to this content and continuously improving the creators' experience, TikTok built a thriving ecosystem that drives a better user experience in the long term.

Actionable Advice for Product Developers:

  • 1. Decouple ML Services: Following ByteDance's lead, product developers should consider decoupling machine learning services to build an enterprise edge in technology, rather than limiting it to a single product.
  • 2. Build a Platform on Top of Core Product: Like TikTok's expansion into a platform through features such as Sound Kit and Login Kit, developers should explore building additional functionalities that enhance the user experience and attract brands.
  • 3. Dominate Your Niche First: To achieve sustainable growth, it is essential to dominate a specific niche before expanding into more competitive markets. This gradual approach allows for a solid foundation and better positioning in the long run.


The rise of social location platforms like Atly and the unprecedented growth of TikTok highlight the significance of engaging communities, leveraging data, and providing unique content experiences. By understanding the success factors behind these platforms and implementing actionable advice, product developers can create innovative and thriving social networks that resonate with users. As the landscape continues to evolve, the possibilities for social location platforms and content-driven networks are boundless.

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