TikTok – The Next Big Social Platform

What app are kids installing now that their parents are on Facebook and Instagram?

Answer: TikTok

The old adage of “it’s not cool anymore when your parents start using it” has stayed true with social platforms. As parents start taking over Facebook and Instagram, the youth have migrated to TikTok.

Remember when Instagram content use to be reposted on Facebook, because Instagram was the place for the cool kids? Well TikTok videos are being reposted on Instagram.

So what is TikTok?

Most people call it “Chinese” vine. But it’s so much more…in the ‘insidious’ digital cocaine kind of way.

Firstly, TikTok’s content of choice is vertically filmed short videos including:

  • Dance challenges
  • Lip syncing
  • Camera tricks

Here’s a compilation of best TikTok’s videos for 2019:

You Said Something about Digital Cocaine?

One of the major differentiators is the TikTok is optimised for engagement i.e. views and likes, but NOT follows.

How does this make TikTok different? Well for Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and most other social platforms, the “homepage” is feed of content from those you are following or in some way “connected” with. TikTok on the other hand has the “For You” section of recommended content as the homepage instead, similar to the “trending” section of Youtube.

This means that as TikTok begins to understand what content you like based on engagement metrics such as:

  • Likes
  • Views
  • Views to the end
  • Comments

With this data, TikTok will push similar content to you. So if TikTok thinks you have high engagement with sport highlights, you’ll start seeing more sport highlights on your For You feed.

The second insidious feature is taking advantage of the expected “back” functionality on phones. Usually when you hit “back” on your phone from the home screen of an app, it closes the app. With TikTok however, when you press back for the first time it will REFRESH your “For You” feed. Think you’re done with the watching the 20th dance challenge? … HERE’S some fresh new digital cocaine for you to snort! Only when you hit the back button for the second time consecutively will you exit the app.

Because of these two major UX differences, TikTok has insanely high engagement. Here is an article on TikTok stats as well as a graph below illustrating its growth:

Image result for tiktok growth 2019

Business Model / Revenue

Like most social platforms, the audience is the product for TikTok to sell to advertisers.

In addition to in app advertising, it’s also experimenting with e-Commerce, allowing users to have a complete shopping experience without leaving the app.

Spending on the app has been steadily rising:

Image result for tiktok growth

A final note is that TikTok has reduced the importance of “influencers” for better or for worse. Given the importance of the For You homepage, content is again king. Influencers must focus on engaging content instead of increasing their follower count in order to monetize eyeballs.

In fact there have been anecdotal reports, that follower count is a poor indication of content engagement e.g. 1 million followers will not guarantee a minimum of 50,000 likes.

Additional Resources – Podcasts:

Here are some more resource to get a good understanding of what TikTok is and its history: