ONE MINUTE BOOK REVIEWS — 5
Why You Should Read “Attention Factory: The Story of TikTok and China’s ByteDance” by Matthew Brennan
It Is Official Now: TikTok Captures The Zeitgeist of The World
We can safely say that TikTok has changed the world in 2020. TikTok has been the most downloaded app of the year, capturing the interests and imaginations of more than 1 billion people — the majority of which are between 13 and 24 years old.
TikTok has also started a new era of digital activism led by Generation Z. From anti-Trump protests to the Black Lives Matter movement protesting the killing of George Floyd, TikTok captured the significance of global moments. Young people protested scenes of racism and violence using the tune of Post Malone’s remix of Childish Gambino’s This Is America.
The Black Lives Matter movement signified a key cultural moment for people desperate for positive change. The #blacklivesmatter hashtag received more than 23 billion views on TikTok.
TikTok Is Wildly Addictive
TikTok-owner ByteDance has generated more than $30 billion in advertising revenue in 2020. The TikTok algorithm seems to be the most addictive of all social media platforms since its authentic power comes from organic content and human curation. Repetitive music and dances ensure wide participation, momentum, and virality among Gen Z members and teens.
It is not just the teens who are into the dance craze, but the older generations as well. Whole families now seem to be dancing to the rhythms of Tiktok:
Sibling dances have also become extremely popular at TikTok. Below are siblings Ranz, Niana, and Natalia, the most popular dancers of the Philippines:
OK, I should stop now, as this article is not about viral TikTok dances — but I cannot stop. I am deep into the TikTok algorithm and cannot get out! Below is another star — Michael Le who performs dances with his family members:
Anyway, I needed to give a break and drink a glass of cold water to get out of the endless viral dance loops of TikTok:)
Now, back to business and back to our book!
“Attention Factory: The Story of Tiktok and China’s ByteDance”
In 2012, ByteDance was just a bunch of geeks working in an apartment in Beijing. In 2021, TikTok now is the world’s fastest-growing social media platform worth more than $100 billion. Matthew Brennan tells the story of this fascinating success story in his book, describing how American and Chinese internet worlds have recently converged.
TikTok heralds a new era of Chinese companies challenging Silicon Valley: It has been the fastest growing social network of all times and it is here to stay as the most significant and powerful tool of creativity now, capturing the Zeitgeist of our times. It is indeed the biggest ‘attention factory’ of our times — dazzling, innovative, energetic, arresting, bizarre, and world-changing.
Matthew Brennan is a well-known writer and expert on Chinese tech and social media companies, including WeChat. His analysis of this huge success story is the most extensive research carried out on TikTok until now. The book delves deep into the background of Zhang Yiming — the genius founder of ByteDance. Yiming was involved in another startup called 99Fang, and in the Toutiao app before being involved in TikTok.
How was a Chinese startup able to seize the lucrative short-video markets in the West? None of the other Chinese companies could pull off such global expansion and success. How could TikTok achieve such a global success? The book summarizes the success of Tik Tok in three stages:
- Douyin in China,
- The acquisition of Musical.ly, and
- Expanding globally across the decade of 2010 to 2020.
TikTok’s success secrets include capturing the attention of a new generation of Internet celebrities, building a global vibrant and young creator community, creating viral memes, generating user-centered content, curating by humans, Zhu Wenjia’s system of algorithmic recommendations, excellent word of mouth, and aggressive ad spending.
You can find a more detailed analysis of TikTok and ByteDance in the presentation below: