Am I Supposed to be Using TikTok?

TikTok is a strange app. For those of you who are unfamiliar, at it’s core TikTok is a social media platform where users share a variety of videos. I started hearing about TikTok a year or two ago when videos originally shared on the app began circulating the websites I frequented. These videos largely fell into one of two categories: teen girls dancing to pop songs or jokey skits leveraging comedic editing. After saying goodbye to Vine several years ago, I had hoped TikTok would fill the void, but it’s become a much larger beast of its own. What started as a niche platform now has over 800 million active users.

Where Vine was home to short, funny videos, TikTok has much looser time constraints on videos, giving creators more freedom to share stories, music, photography, etc. As such, TikTok creators now share a huge variety of content that continues to increase in diversity as new users join the app. While choreographed dances and funny videos are still a staple of the platform, you’ll see users sharing multi-part personal stories, makeup tutorials, home renovations, workouts, and much more. We’re now even starting to see companies create accounts in hopes of reaching a wider audience.

Like many millennials, I begrudgingly downloaded TikTok after believing it was only used by teenagers who spend their free time videoing themselves doing Fortnite dances in parking lots. I was (pleasantly) surprised by the variety of content, so I’ve stuck around. But the deeper into the app I get, the more questions I have. Hashtags on videos are an important element for creators trying to get their videos seen by a wider audience, but these alone don’t dictate what content I see in my feed. The algorithms TikTok uses to filter videos for each user are a mystery, and creators now upload videos with different hashtags trying to figure out which “side” of TikTok they end up on. I have yet to figure out what side I’m on, so I wonder how the companies entering the platform are approaching this as a new marketing channel when it still seems to be so heavily geared toward the individual.

It will be interesting to see how companies will continue to leverage the app and grow their presence as they have done with most other social media platforms. To me, it seems like a unique challenges to create content for a company/brand that appears engaging next to content being created by the ever increasing number of individual users.

– Perri Read, Junior Consultant