What is TikTok and why are kids obsessed with it?
What is that?
With over 500 million users and one billion downloads, TikTok is one of the most popular apps in the world. TikTok says their mission is:
So what does this mean?
In short, TikTok is a video sharing app for teens. It is mainly used to create 15 second “lip sync” videos to popular songs. However, it becomes clear that TikTok is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a cultural force for creating memes, success, and change.
The app is owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance, whose ties to the Chinese government are concerned with the United States. TikTok has the potential to collect user data on millions of US citizens and hundreds of millions of global citizens.
The other side of the concerns is TikTok’s alleged content censorship. Many of those who participated in the Chinese anti-government protests accused the app of hiding their protest coverage.
So if TikTok is politically censoring in China, what could they do abroad to promote interests abroad?
However, these concerns do not bother young users. There’s no way you haven’t heard the greatest No. 1 song in US history this year; Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”. But did you know it became such a hit because of Tik Tok?
The rapper, then 19, uploaded the country song to TikTok and launched a campaign to turn it into a popular meme. The campaign encouraged users to create videos of themselves transforming into cowboys, dancing to the song. From there, the song went viral, shared millions of times across multiple platforms.
This is the first time a song is number one because it’s a meme. TikTok is now making it a whole new business model. They charge artists for the service of using their song on their platform to reach a larger audience.
The lure of becoming the next Lil Nas X is hard to resist for artists. Using TikTok also saves record companies thousands of advertising budgets.
So why do kids love it?
Lil Nas X is the perfect example. The platform encourages users to create content and gives you real-time feedback on its popularity (likes, views). Users can create videos and go viral, so that’s basically the allure of internet fame.
However, the art of viral TikTok video is difficult to master, it requires real effort for perfect lip sync. Rather than just posting a quick joke or a selfie on Instagram, this is considered “creating content”. So it’s a more active involvement than, say, Instagram – it’s like a game and a social media platform put together.
At 15 seconds, the format is also perfect for young users with a short attention span. It is therefore tailor-made for generations of users who grew up with social media.