The analytics suggest a high likelihood that you’re aware it comes with an application named TikTok, and a similarly high likelihood that you’re not totally sure what it’s about. Maybe you asked someone younger in your life, plus they made an effort to explain and maybe failed. Or maybe you’ve heard this new, extraordinarily popular video app is “a refreshing outlier within the social media marketing universe” that’s “genuinely fun to make use of.” Maybe you even tried it, but bounced straight out, confused and sapped.
“Fear of missing out” is a kind of method to describe how social media marketing can make people feel like everybody else is an element of something – a concert, a secret beach, a brunch – that they’re not. A new wrinkle in this particular concept is the fact sometimes that “something” is actually a social media marketing platform itself. You may saw a photograph of some friends on Instagram in a great party and wondered the reasons you weren’t there. Then again, next in your feed, you saw a weird video, watermarked using a vibrating TikTok logo, scored having a song you’d never heard, starring a person you’d never seen. Perhaps you saw among the staggering variety of ads for TikTok plastered throughout other social networks, and real life, and wondered why you weren’t in that party, either, and why it seemed so far away.
It’s been some time since a new social app got big enough, quickly enough, to make nonusers feel they’re missing out from an event. Whenever we exclude Fortnite, that is very social but additionally significantly a game, the last time an app inspired such interest from people who weren’t onto it was … maybe Snapchat? (Not just a coincidence that Snapchat’s audience skewed very young, too.)
And while you, perhaps an anxious abstainer, may feel perfectly secure in your “choice” to not join that service, Snapchat has more daily users than Twitter, changed the path of its industry, and altered just how people contact their phones. TikTok, now reportedly 500 million users strong, is not really so obvious in the intentions. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ask them to! Shall we?
The fundamental human explanation of TikTok. TikTok is an app for producing and sharing short videos. The videos are tall, not square, like on Snapchat or Instagram’s stories, however you travel through videos by scrolling up and down, like a feed, not by tapping or swiping sideways. Video creators have a variety of tools at their disposal: filters as on Snapchat (and later on, all others); the cabability to hunt for sounds to score your video. Users will also be strongly asked to engage with some other users, through “response” videos or by way of “duets” – users can duplicate videos and add themselves alongside.
Hashtags play a surprisingly large role on TikTok. In more innocent times, Twitter hoped its users might congregate around hashtags in a never-ending series of productive pop-up mini-discourses. On TikTok, hashtags actually exist being a real, functional organizing principle: not for news, or even really anything trending anywhere else than TikTok, but for various “challenges,” or jokes, or repeating formats, or other discernible blobs of activity.
TikTok is, however, a free-for-all. It’s easy to make a video on TikTok, not just because of the tools it gives users, but due to extensive reasons and prompts it provides for you. You can choose from an enormous range of sounds, from popular song clips to short moments from Television shows, YouTube videos or other TikToks. You can enroll in a dare-like challenge, or participate in a dance meme, or create a joke. Or else you can make fun of all of these things.
TikTok assertively answers anyone’s what should I watch having a flood. In a similar manner, the app provides plenty of answers for your paralyzing what do i need to post? The effect is an endless unspooling of material that individuals, many very young, might be too self-conscious to share on Instagram, or which they never might have think of in the first place with no nudge. It can be hard to watch. It can be charming. It can be very, very funny. It is actually frequently, within the language widely applied outside the platform, from people on other platforms, extremely “cringe.”
TikTok can feel, to an American audience, a bit like a greatest hits compilation, featuring just the most engaging elements and experiences of the predecessors. This is correct, to your point. But TikTok – known as Douyin in China, where its parent company relies – must also be understood as one of the most popular of several short-video-sharing apps in that country. This can be a landscape that evolved both alongside and at arm’s length through the American tech industry – Instagram, for instance, is banned in China.
Under the hood, TikTok is a fundamentally different app than American users have used before. It may look and feel like its friend-feed-centric peers, and you can follow and become followed; needless to say there are hugely popular “stars,” many cultivated through the company itself. There’s messaging. Users can and use it like any other social app. Nevertheless the various aesthetic and esswmy similarities to Vine or Snapchat or Instagram belie a core difference: TikTok is much more machine than man. In this manner, it’s through the future – or at a minimum a future. And contains some messages for all of us.