What Is Tik Tok: Explained
If you haven't heard of Tik Tok, where have you been? It's the new social platform everyone is talking about, and it has seen explosive growth over the past few months, adding 75 million unique users in December.
They interacted with TikTok without even realizing it. You may have seen content on the Instagram and Twitter meme accounts. Most likely, they showed you one of their ads on YouTube.
Be sceptical of new social platforms - we haven't seen any successful ones since Snapchat launched in 2011. Many tried (and failed): YikYak, Ello, Vero. But the impressive growth that TikTok is seeing makes it hard to ignore for long ... so let's take a look at how the platform works, how it differs from established providers, and what it could mean for brands.
If you're reading this blog, you will almost certainly feel too old for TikTok. It will feel strange, and you will not understand everything. That's the point: learn to love it. It's tough to explain what TikTok is to someone who hasn't used it before. So before you read any further, open the App Store and download TikTok. Swipe a little and then come back. Probably with a confused expression.
What is TikTok?
Well, it's reassuringly simple. It is a short-form video platform that allows users to create 15-second videos with music. Additionally, the possibilities are practically endless, although you'll likely see a combination of lip-syncing, dancing, challenges, and short comedy skits.
There are also some significant deviations from the existing social apps. There's no need to open an account and enter your details to explore. Has not (yet) posted any ads. You are not (yet) shown any news (or fake news).
The Verge called him "the joyful, slightly cringe-inducing spiritual successor to Vine”. Michael Spencer called it the next evolution in storytelling. Facebook called him Lasso. Whatever it is, it feels different from the social platforms we're so used to.
I noticed two things: how easy it is to find and how it encourages participation. Getting started on other social platforms (especially Twitter) is very difficult after opening an account.
The platform's usefulness depends almost entirely on the quality of the people you follow, and it isn't easy to know who is who in the early stages. It takes a lot of strength to get going.
It's different with TikTok. You don't have to follow anyone to get addicted; Open the app, and you are right in the action - full screen, portrait, immersive video.
Following accounts isn't a massive part of the experience - there's a feed of people you follow, but it's a subordinate of the main feed. Spend a little time on TikTok, and you will quickly find that the real spirit of the platform lies in the recurring formats that keep popping up. Users mix and match the memes over and over again. And it's this sense of mimicry that makes the platform so unique.
On TikTok, memes seem to get better with each subsequent incarnation. Navigate to a more enjoyable experience: remove a significant barrier to join yourself. At TikTok, there are no expectations of creating utterly original content; it's much more about iteration. Take an existing meme and bring some of your creativity into it.
How is my business supposed to interfere, I heard you ask?
You need to be careful and make sure you understand the platform's nuances before diving in as a brand. With that, I see three.
Listening: The first (and easiest) way is to use TikTok as a listening platform; Not many activities can give you a better look at youth culture than spending half an hour swiping on TikTok.
Creator Partnerships: open an account and post your memes; although this might be a good option for some, keep in mind that brands kill memes in content. - as Sony did to promote Escape Room. Better yet, you could get them to start a challenge related to your brand. The platform is going round, meaning it is imminent.
Advertising: TikTok will take several forms, but it is worth trying if your target audience is that of this primary adolescent audience. TikTok is one to watch out for over the next few months - if it continues on its current growth trajectory, it could dent the big three. The inclusion of platforms in serving a young audience, which can only be good.