Lately, I’ve heard lots of good things about TikTok — which came out of Musical.ly, a hugely popular social media app — headquartered in Shanghai — that let you watch and create your own lip sync video to the music available on the app. I was familiar with Musical.ly but lost track somewhat after the company got acquired by Bytedance who merged the app with TikTok. Let’s have a look at the TikTok app:
My quick summary of TikTok before using it? I expect a highly interactive app, which lets users create and share their own music clips.
How does TikTok explain itself in the first minute? When I open the app, I see a quick succession of videos; “Real Short On the job Videos”, “Real Short Art Videos” to “Real Short Weird Videos”.
What happens next? I swipe up on one of the videos I land on what looks likes a sample personalised “For You” news feed, with a standard overlay asking me whether I’d like to receive push notifications from TikTok. The feed does suggest it has been personalised for me, but I’m unsure what this is based on since I haven’t been on any on boarding journey where I, for example, started following other TikTok users or indicated my content preferences. Presumably, I’ll need to create a TikTok account first in order to be able to get tailored content and be able to create my own content.
What’s on boarding like? TikTok’s on boarding process is pretty straightforward: (1) it asks for my birthday (which won’t be shown publicly) (2) I can then sign up via my phone or email (3) set a password and (4) slide puzzle piece in the right place to make sure I’m not a bot.
Getting started — The first video in my personalised feed is a video from “cameronisscoooool” in which she shares her realisation who she is and describes herself as a “piece of sh*t”:
I realise straight away that I’m not the target audience for TikTok, which is totally cool — painful, but cool :) Understanding how I can start either discovering new videos or creating my own is very simple; tapping on the “search” icon at the app’s bottom navigation displays trending content and tapping the black “plus” icon on the same bottom navigation. I can imagine, however, that TikTok’s artificial intelligence is it’s biggest strength, continuously recommending content tailored to me.
Did TikTok deliver on my expectations? Yes. Based on my previous familiarity with musical.ly I was expecting just user generated music videos, but I like how TikTok has now broadened this out, combine music and video content. Looking at Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, I can see the future of an app that will have content but also allow messaging and eCommerce activities.