How I Learned More About TikTok Through Podcasts

Hello, my name is Lainey and I have a TikTok addiction. Welp…the first step is admitting it, right?

To quote the devil itself: “I downloaded TikTok as a joke and now I’m addicted.”

I started watching these 15 second viral videos because I kept seeing a few that permeated other social media platforms. Originally, I refused to touch the app because it evolved from Musical.ly, a lip-syncing video app that came right after the fall of Vine. I held a lot of animosity because of Vine and Musical.ly’s overlapping lifespan. Little did I know that TikTok could fill the Vine-sized hole in my heart.

So what did I do when I wanted to know more about this tremendously delightful waste of time—naturally, I turned to my safe space: podcasts. I found myself looking for any podcast episode related to TikTok.

I listened to “The Strange World of TikTok” from The Guardian and “How TikTok Took Over the World” from eMarketer.

First of all, what the app is: a platform for making short videos, usually with music. What it’s not: VINE. or traditional social media where you interact with people you may know in real life. Also, unlike Vine, it doesn’t feel like you are getting content created by a friend. The algorithm is chaotic and creators don’t yet have the strong brands that are associated with other platforms, such as YouTube. Although I’m a cynic and have hope that creators will find a way to monetize—which was one of the biggest reasons for the downfall of Vine. Ok, I’ll stop talking about Vine now. Vine.

According to these podcast episodes, there are half a billion users as of October of 2019, with 65 million residing in the U.S. (as of a year ago). They are mainly younger users—although I resent that generalization. TikTok comes in third—a solid bronze—behind Facebook and Instagram as the largest social media platform. The podcast hosts contribute TikTok’s popularity to being more entertaining than traditional social media platforms or news-based websites, allowing you to escape for a while. I can speak from experience—you get lost for a little too long. They also highlighted some of the negative press the app has received, mainly censorship (it’s owned by a Chinese company) and lack of continuity within community guidelines.

I’m very interested in how this app will grow, change, or even possibly peter out. I predict that they will find ways to slip in ads or create experiences around products, much like Snapchat. I mean, look at what the Washington Post has built in a very short time. (For more information, listen to this podcast episode with the WP‘s TikTok Mastermind, Dave Jorgenson) But overall, I’m glad that there is another platform that allows the younger generation space to think creatively and—more importantly—laugh. Much like an older platform that won’t be named.

Now, on to your TikTok education. I picked five of my favorites that will give you an idea of some of the trends. First, see this ‘ready player one’ gamer trend. Then there is the perfect encapsulation of music meets comedy that the app does so well here. Now, here’s a way to explain TikTok to your Boomer family members. This one is just funny no matter who you are. And lastly, this one explains how I feel in 2019 vs 2020 about TikTok.

Enjoy and find a friend that can rein you in after a major TikTok binge (Alex).

-Lainey

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