If keeping on top of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat wasn’t already keeping social media managers up at night, there’s a new player in town. TikTok lets users watch and create 15-second videos set to music, and take part in ‘challenges’ – which ask users to do anything from rolling across the floor pretending to be tumbleweed, or dancing along to a song. There’s also all the digital glitter that got everyone hooked on Snapchat and Instagram, with TikTok users able to send each other coins and diamonds, as well as add stickers and special effects to their films. Its popularity is reminiscent of now-defunct platform Vine, which similarly revolved around shortform videos made by amateurs, often with a comedic bent.
“Impressive editing is paired with the childlike acting and lip-synching the app and its challenges call for,” writes The Verge’s Julia Alexander. “It’s gleeful and adorable. It doesn’t matter if aspects of any given performance are cringe-inducing. TikTok isn’t about perfection; it’s about belonging to a movement, and to multiple communities that just want to express themselves through dancing, singing, acting, and collaboration. These little aspects of TikTok’s culture make it feel more authentic than heavily edited YouTube videos, or Instagram clips that we all scroll by after a couple of seconds.”
If that doesn’t grab you, you obviously didn’t contribute to the 1 billion times the app was downloaded on Google Play and the App Store in February this year. In December alone it added an extra 75 million users, finishing 2018 as the most downloaded iOS app of the year. And while brands might be salivating at such a wealth of eyeballs – many of them belonging to Gen Z – a key part of the platform’s appeal is that it hasn’t, yet, been overrun by advertising.