“OMG, my post on TIKTOK went viral! It’s happening. Millennials, I’m coming for you.”
That was me, a few weeks ago. But before getting to that, some backstory —
The first time I heard about TikTok was when this 16-year-old boy became famous for lip-syncing to songs. I didn’t get it. TikTok just seemed to be a wannabe “VINE” ( another short-form social video app that was popular back in 2012)
That evening, I ranted to my husband saying “ Tiktok wasn’t for me”. In my mind, it was a silly platform for dancing and singing, and the last thing I needed to do was to embarrass myself with such videos.
But as weeks passed, I realized there must be a reason why people liked this platform. The social media strategist in me got curious. I hesitantly downloaded the app.
I signed up and started to think about my posts. How hard could it be? Record a silly 15-second video, add some music, and voila — it’s done…Right?
I must have shot a hundred videos before posting my first one. It’s definitely not easy creating engaging 15-second videos.
My first few videos barely got 100 likes. But as I started posting more, I noticed the views increasing. Meanwhile, I was consuming a lot of content on Tiktok too. Almost becoming obsessed with it.
After 13 videos, finally one of my videos crossed 1K views and then the next one crossed 130K views. With that, I went from 0 to 1000 followers overnight.
I was a convert.
I finally started understanding why people, and not just Gen Z, were so hooked to this platform.
But before we delve into the reasons, a bit of history :
The journey of Tiktok actually started with another app called Musical.ly. This app (similar to TikTok in function) was launched in 2014 by Chinese entrepreneurs Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang. It amassed a huge dedicated user base over the next few years. In November 2017, it was acquired by ByteDance, a Beijing-based media, and tech company, for a reported $1 billion.
ByteDance already owned a similar app, TikTok, which had launched in China in 2016. ByteDance combined both the apps as one product. They told Reuters that TikTok “better reflects the breadth of content created on our platform that extends beyond music to comedy, performance art and more.”
Thus TikTok absorbed Musical.ly. All user accounts and videos were moved to TikTok, and the app known as Musical.ly ceased to exist. In China, however, TikTok is called Douyin. This app has over 300 million monthly active users and was built exclusively for Chinese users to comply with China’s strict censorship regulations
Now that you know the history of Tiktok, here is why TikTok is such a smart platform worth exploring:
1. Tiktok Has Made The Masses Famous
Some of the biggest stars on Tiktok, especially in Asia — are from small towns and villages. Unlike Instagram or maybe even Youtube, where to be “popular” you need to have a curated feed or well-edited videos; to be successful on Tiktok — all you need is your phone. On TikTok, it’s acceptable to put unedited and raw videos as long as it’s engaging. Tiktok has given an opportunity to the masses who may not have access to photographers, editors or editing tools to bring their creative foot forward.
2. Tiktok Is Not Just For “young people”
Once you’re on Tiktok you’ll realize, yes there are teenagers, but there are also tons of founders, entrepreneurs, artists, creatives who are showcasing what they are best at through short videos. The talent is endless. In fact, A recent article from The Washington Post showed how nurses, doctors and members of the military have taken to the app, creating their own TikTok groups to share videos.
3. Tiktok Expands Your Audience
Unlike Instagram or youtube, where unless people subscribe/follow you, there is a lesser chance of people discovering your content, TikTok allows people who don’t follow you to find your content more seamlessly.
Tiktok’s “for you” recommendation page is better optimized to show similar content and thus having people discover you more easily whether it’s through the songs you pick for your video, hashtags, etc.
One might argue that the platform is not yet saturated, which makes discoverability easier. However, Tiktok’s search and explore page has been designed to find content in a better way. It has a special section that includes searches through popular hashtags, featured creators, viral sounds, trends, and challenges.
4. Tiktok Incentivizes Creators
A platform’s success is widely based on how much importance it gives its creators and influencers as they are the ones who will help spread the word. They are the heart of any social platform. They are what sustains a platform. Tiktok’s algorithm currently encourages creators, unlike Instagram, where it has become harder and harder to get the desired engagement.
TikTok also has programs for its popular influencers to get paid. And if there are two things influencers love, it is — views/likes, (or/and) money, both of which TikTok is currently providing.
Another feature that enhances influencer experience is the “duet” feature. Collaboration between influencers is integral to the creator experience and Tiktok allows that through this feature of “duet”. TikTok Duets basically lets users create content featuring an initial video, with both videos appearing side by side on-screen in a square format. This means that people can effectively reply to video content with their own videos — which then can be shared publicly.
5. Tiktok Provides You All The Editing Tools
Tiktok is a one-stop-shop. It provides you with filters, texts, music, transitions, and various other tools to make funny, attractive videos. So if you are a creator, you don’t have to leave the app to make videos which is a huge incentive for users to stay within the app.
6. Tiktok Provides You Free Music For Your Videos
This is my favorite part about TikTok — free music. You literally have a plethora of music to choose from without worrying about a copyright strike. The biggest headache most creators face on social media platforms is finding free music to use, which Tiktok easily gives you access to. However, this feature is only confined for videos within TikTok as it is against TikTok’s terms and conditions to use their videos for commercial purposes (ie monetization on YouTube).
The reason TikTok gives you access to so many songs not because they are copyright free, but because currently the platform is not built around monetization. This means no ad revenue or money is coming from the videos or music themselves. Therefore, since no actual money is being made, there’s less hassle around it.
7. Tiktok Helps You Understand Trends
There are more than 500 million people using the app, and new personalities and trends pop up every day. Whether it’s challenges, memes, creating duets with someone, Tiktok helps you understand what the younger generation is thinking. This is especially helpful for brands and the older generation of marketers when creating their go-to marketing strategies.
So these are the reasons why you won’t see my quitting TikTok anytime soon. Having said that, before jumping on to this platform, it’s important to ask yourself why you want to be on it. A lot of brands are getting on to TikTok without knowing “why”. If you are doing it for fun or followers, it’s great, but if you are using it to sell things and your target audience is not GenZ, this platform may not be for you.
Oh, and FYI my favorite hashtag on TikTok is #Over30Club. So if you think you’re too old for TikTok, check that hashtag out. It’ll make you re-think as to why you aren’t on TikTok.