The different eras of social media are usually marked by a single online platform instrumental in bringing the most people together. These eras are accentuated by cultural shifts on the web as a whole, with the epicenters of these shifts beginning with the communities that form on these platforms.
As of now, the center of internet culture has been happening on TikTok, and you shouldn’t ignore this.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a video-based micro-blogging platform with a vast array of features allowing people to create thousands of unique videos covering a variety of topics. It grew out of the popularity of Twitter’s now-defunct Vines, which allowed users to edit and post six-second video clips.
Content creators on TikTok usually shoot for humor, but it’s possible to find anything from cooking recipes to parenting advice to science facts and even medical or law advice.
It’s an easy and intuitive platform to navigate, which helps TikTok to tap into the knowledge of countless individuals who own a smartphone. And while it’s trendy among Gen Z, the fact is that people across the entire age spectrum can find something of value there.
The TikTok user feed is relatively minimal, with the UI split between the “Following” feed and a “For You” feed. Both feeds show a single video that autoplays until you swipe up to the next video.
The “Following” feed is pretty self-explanatory, but the “For You” page is where the magic really happens. Using state-of-the-art personalization algorithms, TikTok is a master at homing in on the content you like and possibly didn’t even know you wanted. If you and someone else you know both use TikTok, it might be fun to compare what kind of content each of you receives.
TikTok thrives on niche subcultures and trends. Very often, you’ll find yourself pigeonholed into a few niches alongside the more popular trends appearing in everyone’s “For You.” As a content creator on TikTok, it’s very advantageous to settle into a niche. You will often see a creator who posts variations of the same “performance,” which never gets old.
With such a simple concept (giving people creative tools to edit videos), TikTok has evolved into a vibrant community of regular people making surprisingly well-timed, funny and informative videos.
Why is TikTok important?
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020—as people were forced into their homes for quarantine—TikTok became a household staple to fight boredom. This boredom created both a creative boom and consumer demand for entertainment.
Videos uploaded to TikTok around this time were often tailored to main events. But there was plenty of lighthearted content as well. Not only that, but TikTok played a direct role in some of the main events of 2020. The massive number of users immersed in content daily are informed, engaged and empowered to act in large numbers.
There are two big reasons you shouldn’t ignore TikTok, depending on if you wish to create or consume content there.
- As a content consumer: TikTok is the current epicenter of culture. Whether it be memes, music, dances, tech trends or political movements, you can bet that it appears on TikTok first. Visiting TikTok is equivalent to keeping your ear to the ground for the latest trends.
- As a content creator: TikTok includes practically all known niches for which there is an audience. Much like the vast amount of subreddits on Reddit (the former “Front Page of the Internet”), TikTok is host to an equally astonishing number of subcultures and topic-based accounts. Therefore, it’s strategic for you as a creator—regardless of your industry or specialty—to post to TikTok, even as just a marketing channel.
Ignoring TikTok now is like ignoring AOL, Facebook or Reddit when they were once the Internet’s cultural epicenters. Sure, you’ll survive, but you’ll probably be late to the game when the next big thing happens. And from a marketing or creator perspective, TikTok is where you’ll find a highly engaged audience.
Who is on TikTok?
- Millennial tech and business news reporters
- Science educators
Use TikTok to your advantage
Don’t write TikTok off as just another place for teenagers to learn odd dance routines. Dig deeper, and you will find that this platform is chock-full of potential for anyone. TikTok has the tools and audience to increase brand awareness and engagement as a content creator or business. As a content consumer, it is a window into modern Internet culture and endless entertainment and knowledge.