February 6, 2023

What Can We Learn From TikTok?

Time and again, a new app comes around that redefines how we view tech and social media. Today, TikTok is seemingly leading the charge with its diverse scope for digital interaction.
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It may appear similar to its peers on the surface. But the video-based app is so much more than just a series of dance reels. TikTok differs from the rest in its authenticity – rare for any social media platform. It offers an opportunity for social media to create positive cultural influence and social impact. The fact that a China-based social platform has found legions of international followers makes it doubly intriguing. Here’s how TikTok is reimagining social media.

Unlike other contemporaries, TikTok ensures that the content people see on their feeds does not massively depend on who they follow. The “For You” page helps users explore videos from new creators. Instagram’s explore page replicates this function but is dominated by popular accounts. What people see on the gram’s explore page is still highly dependent on their previous activity.

That’s not the case with TikTok, which is what makes it so revolutionary. Whether you’re a new creator or someone with a massive following, everyone can get visibility on TikTok. And on a much deeper level, the platform enables access to different creators, worlds, and points of view.

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Another good thing about TikTok is its responsible advertising policy, which is radically different from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Ads do not get integrated into people’s feeds. What’s more, advertisements of a political nature are not allowed on the platform. Most advertising comes from the creators themselves. TikTok’s “Creator Fund” is a multi-billion-dollar program that distributes funds to content creators based on the number of views. The benefits go directly to video creators, not large tech platforms. For this reason, it’s the creators themselves who place a bulk of the ads on TikTok.

Unlike its older brother, Instagram, TikTok began simply as a way for the younger generation to have fun online. It doesn’t call for fancy lighting or equipment. Most users, including celebrity accounts, film content with mobile phones – sometimes inside bathrooms. The emphasis on content over impossible aesthetics is what makes the platform refreshing. It’s much closer to life.

TikTok remains a force to watch – for its grassroots, true-to-the-earth quality. It empowers users to communicate and mobilize in ways previously unseen. Not surprisingly, the app has met with opposition and scapegoated as a Chinese conspiracy to steal data. The theory has been widely disproved.

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