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You may have al­ready heard of TikTok, the new so­cial me­dia app that has achieved mas­sive global pop­u­lar­ity, through the myr­iad of memes about it on other plat­forms. In Septem­ber 2018, TikTok sur­passed Face­book, In­sta­gram, YouTube, and Snapchat in monthly in­stalls in the App Store, and was down­loaded more than a bil­lion times in 2018.

So what makes TikTok dif­fer­ent from any other so­cial me­dia app and why is it so pop­u­lar?

TikTok tar­gets our love for silly and ridicule-based hu­mour. It has a univer­sal ap­peal that caters to con­tent cre­ators par­tic­i­pat­ing in hu­mourous ac­tiv­i­ties, in­ter­net chal­lenges or just plain lip-sync­ing.

With video con­tent that is some­times cringe-wor­thy, TikTok at­tracts many young peo­ple as both cre­ators and au­di­ence mem­bers to its plat­form.

You can make fun of peo­ple or shoot em­bar­rass­ing videos or do dares. What could go wrong, right?

It is aptly de­scribed on Google Play as, “‘It’s from the gut, come as you are’ sto­ry­telling told in 15 sec­onds”.

The so­cial net­work re­volves around shar­ing 15-sec­ond video clips of­ten set to pop­u­lar mu­sic or au­dio from movies and tv shows.

The short length of th­ese videos, far from be­ing an op­pres­sive re­stric­tion, served as a fun lim­i­ta­tion that forced con­tent cre­ators to think cre­atively.

TikTok’s mar­ket­ing team ran ag­gres­sive so­cial me­dia cam­paigns fo­cus­ing largely on YouTube to poach users who wanted to laugh at shorter and sim­pler con­tent.

They also hired global celebri­ties such as Cardi B to host events like rap bat­tles which greatly in­creased the app’s pop­u­lar­ity.

TikTok is more than just an app you have to pre­tend to know about to im­press Gen-Z, it’s now one of the big­gest brands on the planet and quite pos­si­bly the fu­ture of so­cial me­dia.

The Cul­tural Sig­nif­i­cance of TikTok

We cur­rently live in the age of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness (PC).

TikTok has be­come an out­let for many young peo­ple to be, well, them­selves and counter the hy­per PC cul­ture which has be­come main­stream.

Apart from the lip-sync­ing and as­pir­ing TikTok celebri­ties, many young peo­ple have used TikTok as an out­let to es­cape the PC cul­ture.

TikTok has helped teenagers do what they do best - rebel against the main­stream.

Young peo­ple like jokes and of­ten th­ese jokes are crude and not very po­lit­i­cally cor­rect.

So­cial jus­tice war­riors on other plat­forms such as Twit­ter have made it harder for young peo­ple to ex­press them­selves with this type of hu­mor­ous con­tent.

How Ex­actly Does TikTok Work?

Many of the top in­flu­encers of­fer beauty or modelling tips, com­edy sketches, ad­vice or just talk, though they will have more than a few mu­sic or lip-sync videos in their col­lec­tion too. Though TikTok’s video view count is only avail­able to the orig­i­nal poster, when videos end up on the “For You” page (Sim­i­lar to a home page or sug­gested con­tent page) they can eas­ily get thou­sands and even mil­lions of views. What makes TikTok ex­tra ap­peal­ing is how easy it is to record, edit and share videos with highly stylised special ef­fects and fil­ters. This means that peo­ple who may not be very tech­ni­cally pro­fi­cient can still pro­duce slick-look­ing con­tent. You don’t have to be a pro­fes­sional to make a great video! Mak­ing videos in TikTok is sim­ple. Com­ing up with a new and cre­ative idea of what to fea­ture in those videos is much more dif­fi­cult. Which is where the crowd­sourced na­ture of the plat­form comes into play.

In­stead of hav­ing a few prom­i­nent users cre­at­ing con­tent, any­one who has a good idea can make a video and de­ploy it on equal foot­ing.

As the plat­form’s user base grows and cer­tain users gain more likes and fol­low­ers, this is likely to change and set­tle into a more tra­di­tional so­cial me­dia model but for now, it’s a dig­i­tal gold rush. TikTok in Fiji Thou­sands of young Fi­jians are al­ready on TikTok, shar­ing and cre­at­ing con­tent daily.

As Fi­jians, we all love our hu­mour and like to have our doses of fun served fresh daily. Our love for hu­mour, es­pe­cially hu­mour that stems from see­ing oth­ers in em­bar­rass­ing sit­u­a­tions has played a ma­jor part in TikTok’s fast-grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity in Fiji.

On the global stage, TikTok has reached well over 1 bil­lion down­loads in 2019, a tes­ta­ment to this fact. TikTok has truly en­tered the in­ter­na­tional stage and is now avail­able in 75 lan­guages.

What will be the next big thing? What new so­cial app will cap­ture the imag­i­na­tions of young peo­ple?

Only time will tell, and as the clock TikToks on, we can­not wait to see what the next big thing will be. Un­til next week, happy cre­at­ing!


Ex­am­ples of peo­ple us­ing

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