TikTok is a free app that is available on smart phones. As the most downloaded app on the Apple App store, it has taken millions of users by storm since its global release in 2017. The concept of TikTok is simple but obviously very effective. Users have the ability to make their own 15-60 second videos, adding their own videos, choosing songs or sound effects and other special effects to add to their videos. Therefore, this means people can create their own dances, copy others, make comedy or lip-syncing videos. Once the user is happy with their video, they can publish it to their personal TikTok page and share it on other social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. Once a video is published, other users can like and comment on it and then follow the user.
Given that TikTok has become such a phenomenon, many users are keen to become “TikTok famous” and to be at the top of their game. The key to this is to post hashtags in the video caption such as #fyp and #foryoupage in order to gain the attention of other users – the video will then be published on the “for you page”, which is a bit like the “explore” page on Instagram. This gives people the opportunity to explore other users’ content. Another way for people to gain popularity on the app is not only through creating original, humorous and innovative content, but also by mimicing the dances of those who are already considered “TikTok famous”. The “Say So Dance” and “The Renegade” are a couple of examples of dances that have become popularized, with other users completing and adding them to their pages.
Some users have managed to accumulate millions of followers. The user with the most followers is Loren Gray with 38.3 million followers. At seventeen years old, she has such a successful social media presence that she was nominated for an award at the Teen Choice Awards. Alongside this, many celebrities have their own TikTok accounts such as Justin Bieber, Khloe Kardashian and Ed Sheeran. Along with following popular celebrities, people can also watch videos according to their specific interests, again through the use of hashtags such as #music #memes #funny.
I think the appeal of TikTok is immense largely as a result of the user being able to tailor their experience of the app to their personal tastes. As with Instagram and Twitter, people can follow users and hashtags based on their interests. TikTok also appeals to many people, especially teenagers, specifically because it enables them to make their own videos more easily than on other social media apps. Twitter, Instagram Facebook and Snapchat all enable users to post videos, but they do not offer them the access to sound and visual effects. Another added bonus is that users can save videos that they are in the midst of creating and continue them later. Moreover, the ability to collaborate with friends adds a real-life social element to this form of social media.
In my opinion, whilst there may be a slight epidemic and obsession over TikTok, it could be deemed slightly more healthy than other forms of social media. Instead of sitting around all day staring at their phone and endlessly scrolling through news feeds, TikTok encourages users to get on their feet in order to participate in the app. Although there are many popular lip-syncing videos, the dance and challenge videos are the real stars of the show and many people are therefore keen to share videos of themselves dancing. This enables users to enjoy being active, and spend time with their friends whilst doing so: a real win-win!
Nevertheless, it is interesting that the videos made are a maximum of 60 seconds, meaning users receive a rapid stream of videos. This could indicate that TikTok is responding to and fuelling the diminishing attention spans of the population. Perhaps this is a result of the time we spend mindlessly scrolling through social media, which inhibits many of us being able and willing to concentrate on a single thing for prolonged periods of time.
All in all, TikTok is certainly an app that has taken the world of social media by storm. Perhaps you should download now and attempt to become TikTok famous yourself!
– Kate Legister