TikTok: The New Kid on the Block
You may have already heard of TikTok, the new social media app that has achieved massive global popularity, through the myriad of memes about it on other platforms.
In September 2018, TikTok surpassed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat in monthly installs in the App Store, and was downloaded more than a billion times in 2018.
So what makes TikTok different from any other social media app and why is it so popular?
TikTok targets our love for silly and ridicule-based humour. It has a universal appeal that caters to content creators participating in humourous activities, internet challenges or just plain lip-syncing.
With video content that is sometimes cringe-worthy, TikTok attracts many young people as both creators and audience members to its platform.
You can make fun of people or shoot embarrassing videos or do dares. What could go wrong, right?
It is aptly described on Google Play as, “‘It’s from the gut, come as you are’ storytelling told in 15 seconds”.
The social network revolves around sharing 15-second video clips often set to popular music or audio from movies and tv shows.
The short length of these videos, far from being an oppressive restriction, served as a fun limitation that forced content creators to think creatively.
TikTok’s marketing team ran aggressive social media campaigns focusing largely on YouTube to poach users who wanted to laugh at shorter and simpler content.
They also hired global celebrities such as Cardi B to host events like rap battles which greatly increased the app’s popularity.
TikTok is more than just an app you have to pretend to know about to impress Gen-Z, it’s now one of the biggest brands on the planet and quite possibly the future of social media.
The Cultural Significance of TikTok
We currently live in the age of political correctness (PC).
TikTok has become an outlet for many young people to be, well, themselves and counter the hyper PC culture which has become mainstream.
Apart from the lip-syncing and aspiring TikTok celebrities, many young people have used TikTok as an outlet to escape the PC culture.
TikTok has helped teenagers do what they do best – rebel against the mainstream.
Young people like jokes and often these jokes are crude and not very politically correct.
Social justice warriors on other platforms such as Twitter have made it harder for young people to express themselves with this type of humorous content.
How Exactly Does TikTok Work?
Many of the top influencers offer beauty or modelling tips, comedy sketches, advice or just talk, though they will have more than a few music or lip-sync videos in their collection too.
Though TikTok’s video view count is only available to the original poster, when videos end up on the “For You” page (Similar to a home page or suggested content page) they can easily get thousands and even millions of views.
What makes TikTok extra appealing is how easy it is to record, edit and share videos with highly stylised special effects and filters. This means that people who may not be very technically proficient can still produce slick-looking content.
You don’t have to be a professional to make a great video!
Making videos in TikTok is simple. Coming up with a new and creative idea of what to feature in those videos is much more difficult. Which is where the crowd-sourced nature of the platform comes into play.
Instead of having a few prominent users creating content, anyone who has a good idea can make a video and deploy it on equal footing.
As the platform’s user base grows and certain users gain more likes and followers, this is likely to change and settle into a more traditional social media model but for now, it’s a digital gold rush.
TikTok in Fiji
Thousands of young Fijians are already on TikTok, sharing and creating content daily.
As Fijians, we all love our humour and like to have our doses of fun served fresh daily. Our love for humour, especially humour that stems from seeing others in embarrassing situations has played a major part in TikTok’s fast-growing popularity in Fiji.
On the global stage, TikTok has reached well over 1 billion downloads in 2019, a testament to this fact. TikTok has truly entered the international stage and is now available in 75 languages.
What will be the next big thing? What new social app will capture the imaginations of young people?
Only time will tell, and as the clock TikToks on, we cannot wait to see what the next big thing will be.
Until next week, happy creating!