TikTok, even more so than other social media apps, is filled with younger users. A lot of those from, shall we say, a previous generation, are sometimes barely aware of it–and many people have no idea what it’s for.
You make and share short videos… I guess?
You can rather easily explain the main principle behind Facebook: find people and businesses and stay in some kind of general contact, have the option to private message, and you can like and comment on posts. Oh! And it helps you remember birthdays and invite people to events.
Twitter likewise isn’t that hard to summarize: follow people you want to hear from, follow to get follow-backs, and send pithy thoughts into the ether to see how many people like and retweet it. Brag about your follower count.
Instagram: share pretty pictures in order to win a virtual popularity contest. Also, marketing giveaways. And those story things that move on their own.
But still, all three of these platforms suggest content based on who you follow. What you’ve liked and saved and shared.
TikTok? Not so much.
From the moment you sign up and sign in, the app fills your feed with videos. Don’t know anyone? Haven’t liked anything yet? Doesn’t matter. The platform says, here, have some stuff. And then it gives you more stuff.
Breaking the standard friends-first algorithm, TikTok gives you what it thinks you should watch. It gives you a quick and trivial answer to the dual question what should I pay attention to? and what do I want to post? by suggesting a starting place for both. Rather assertively, it seems.
With multiple templates, prompts, and “challenge” suggestions, TikTok makes sure you don’t hesitate for very long before hitting the record and post buttons. After all, hesitation is the death of inspiration, and TikTok is determined to capture every fleeting idea you have, no matter how silly or off-the-wall it may be.
The result: an incredible mish-mash of content that defies traditional algorithms of classification and just doesn’t bother to pretend that it’s based on your friend list. It may or may not look random, but its only true goal is to keep you scrolling through videos, and it’s done a good enough job that the other major social media outlets have begun to tweak their suggestions to follow suit.
So is this upstart platform a trendsetter, or just a passing trend? Only time will tell. TikTok.
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