Written by: Molly Hardwick
Particularly during March 2020, with a large proportion of the world staying home, TikTok flourished and became the new social media trend for people to turn to. This social media platform offered both distraction and entertainment with its ever-changing new trends for people across the world to get involved with.
Despite the app’s controversies with data privacy, it remains the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store (Sensor Tower, 2019). It hasn’t lost its relevance, with new content constantly available and new creators to be discovered without the limitations of having to have already followed their account. Consumers have genuinely engaged with TikTok, making it difficult to imagine it ever being discarded in the same way apps like Facebook were. TikTok’s superiority amongst these other social media platforms, especially amongst younger people, suggests it could outlive all other platforms.
TikTok has the humour of Twitter and the visual aspect of Instagram. It’s a balance which works well in providing pure entertainment, which is what users ultimately seek out of using social media for fun. The unique ‘for you’ algorithm means the app can become what you make it. If you’re interested in reading, you can click the ‘booktok’ hashtag. If you want to cook, the ‘foodtok’ hashtag. Though the concept of hashtags has always been available across other platforms, they appear to be genuinely helpful in TikTok’s case, in building a ‘for you page’ which is generally engaged with hashtags you’ve searched. This means that the app can venture into being truly educational. Though there is a lot to say about performative activism across social media generally, #BlackLivesMatter has 24.4 billion views, this is absolutely huge in educating young people on world issues. Speaking from experience, platforms like Instagram simply failed to be as engaging on such social and political issues as I used it as a teen.
Instagram, in its introduction of the ‘shop’ feature and heavily advertised content, has become almost too blatant, and it doesn’t sit well with consumers. And so, this has promoted a negative response to such app changes. It has also been a typical conversation that Instagram is too perfect, too edited, too ideal. TikTok seems more authentic. The content isn’t consistently touched up, people don’t care as much how their feed looks, and people can still monetise their efforts. This begs the question as to whether Instagram will become something consumers use sporadically, for special occasions when they look good and want to post. Meanwhile, they are more likely to open the TikTok app every day.
And so TikTok is changing the game. Whether it’s utilised as a way to make your business blow up, to make your personality viral, or simply as a means of comfort in watching regular people, it has hooked a huge audience who are likely to prefer apps like TikTok as they discard older platforms like Instagram and Twitter.