TikTok here, TikTok there – everyone seems to love the new social media channel. But, why is TikTok popular?
The success of TikTok is undeniable. The new social media platform has been around since 2016 however, it did not peak in popularity until the beginning of 2020. While some thought, the platform would be a temporary hype to help cope with boredom during lockdown, TikTok has become one of the top social media platforms out there. Maybe because lockdown is lasting longer than expected but, it does not look like they are giving up their position any time soon.
In case you have not yet been tempted to give it a go yourself, here is a short and sweet explanation of how the app works:
TikTok is a social media platform, where users can create and share short videos. The app was developed in China and launched in September 2016. Videos can be edited within the app, however, always in a tall format. TikTok offers a wide range of filters and sounds. Users can create their own sounds (if they record themselves speaking) but there is also a huge library with songs from all of our all-time favourite artists.
If you enjoyed a video, you can like, comment and/or share it, just like on other social media apps. Unique TikTok functions are “Response” and “Duet”. With these tools, either you can respond to a topic or question mentioned in the video, or recreate the video alongside. TikTok encourages users to interact with each other. Additionally, engagement is not measured purely by the number of likes and/or the number of followers. TikTok shows everyone how many times the video has been played – this number plays a huge role in the metrics.
Just like on other social media platforms, hashtags are crucial. Despite the similarity, their purpose is not the same. Instead of talking about news or trending topics, they rather serve as an organizational tool. Challenges, jokes, repeating formats or any other blobs of activity multiple people are recreating are organized within these hashtags.
TikTok is a place for all – a platform with a huge variety of content. Although funny and relatable videos seem to be the stars of the app, you can also find a lot of educational, news, fashion and beauty, sports and travel content. The homepage is split into two different feeds. They are self-explanatory – the Following feed contains only videos created by users you follow. The For You Page suggests content created by users you do not follow but you might enjoy based on your previous interactions.
The baby of the social media industry is a big hit among teenagers. In June 2020, teenagers made up to 32% of TikTok’s active users. Most people over the age of 25, consider the platform a waste of time and even label the videos as cringe. Love or hate – there is hardly an in-between.
Well, not really. TikTok is not the first platform to consist only of videos. Before TikTok, there was Musical.ly: an app full of lip sync and dancing videos. Musers (Musical.ly users) could choose from a wide range of songs and let their inner performer out. Musical.ly grew quickly – by mid-2017 over 200 Million Musers created content for the social media app. That is why it was no surprise when TikTok grew just as fast. Before their launch, they already knew people are interested in the concept. TikTok acquired Musical.ly in late 2017 for the cheap price of $800 Million (what a bargain…). They consolidated both apps, converting Musers into TikTokers. The union was the reason for the big boom in popularity.
Some of us older-young people started reminiscing when we heard about TikTok. Almost 10 years ago, the sensation amongst young people was Vine. The social media platform gave creators six seconds to get as creative as possible. The content, just like TikTok, mostly consisted of short comedy sketches and funny videos. Twitter acquired Vine shortly after it was founded in 2012. The mother-company Twitter decided to discontinue the platform as the business model and features could not keep up with other social media platforms. Businesses did not see this platform as appropriate to promote their products, which affected the app’s revenue.
What makes TikTok popular and loved?
The first and most obvious difference between TikTok and other social media platforms is the content. You are only able to share video content with a time limit of 1 minute. The caption length is also limited to 100 characters, which accords with the concept of being an audio-visual platform instead of text-based.
TikTok is also very keen on monitoring published content on the platform. They wish to keep content positive and encouraging and deny and block any hate speech. Their motto is to “Inspire Creativity and Bring Joy”.
The variety of creators and viewers makes the platform a diverse place welcoming everyone. From comedy to artists, every niche has its place on this channel.
TikTokers especially appreciate how the platform is much more realistic than other channels. While Instagram is over commercialised with ads, sponsored posts and businesses promoting themselves, TikTok is less about consuming and more about entertainment.
Especially the sociological effect their content has on users is completely different. Instead of glamourizing a high-profile lifestyle and luxury, people share their real-life experiences, good or bad, and they appreciate a normal life without all the glitz and the glam. This kind of content makes viewers feel better about their lives, as they do not feel like they are not good enough for not being able to visit Dubai or LA every month as some influencers do. Creators show how a normal routine, a simple lifestyle can be just as satisfying, if not even more.
At the end of the day, each platform has its benefits and its drawbacks. It is up to us which platform we favour and how conscious we are while using them. Social media stays social media and it does not always correlate with reality. In healthy amounts and manners, every platform can be beneficial for our social life as well as for entertainment purposes.
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Written by Sandra Dominguez (Digital Marketing Intern)