What's Up, TikTok?

If you haven’t heard of TikTok, you are bound to hear of it sooner than later. It is currently the most popular new social media app out there since Snapchat, and is incredibly popular amongst generation Z. And although your kids’ obsession with TikTok may leave you scratching your head, TikTok now reportedly boasts 1 billion musers worldwide (the name for users on this platform) and is one of the most popular short-video-sharing apps in the country.

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What is TikTok?

TikTok is a free Chinese social media app that is designed for creating and sharing short music videos. It replaced the US and European app Music.ly that merged with TikTok in August 2018 and automatically shifted its 100 million US users directly over to TikTok. 

Who Uses TikTok?

Teenagers primarily use TikTok, but anyone who enjoys a digital version of karaoke would have fun on the app. Users record short videos of themselves lip-synching and dancing to the latest music. The videos are in 15-second clips that can be stitched together to create longer videos, and users can add special effects to their videos before sharing them on the platform. TikTok also has live streaming through Live.Me and interactions with the audience via a chat function. Just like with YouTube, TikTok users can connect with friends, comment on the videos, challenge each other with memes, and follow people on the platform.

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Is TikTok Safe For Kids?

TikTok has an age restriction of 13 when signing up for the app, although a fake birth date easily bypasses this security step. TikTok user profiles are made ‘public’ by default, which means anyone can view the videos your child uploads, send direct messages, and access their location information. Make sure to switch the setting to ‘private’ if your child is younger and monitor your child’s account to ensure they are following accounts you think are appropriate for their age group. Since popular TikTok uploads emphasize today’s top music, some lyrics may contain swearing and sexual content, and some of the music videos may also have content that features revealing outfits and dance moves that are inappropriate for younger children. Remember TikTok, like any other social media app, presents dangers to your child such as sexual predators and cyberbullying. That being said, TikTok is a very fun app that encourages its users to be creative and silly, and the comment box does remind users to “say something nice”.

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Can You Make Money on TikTok?

Yes, much like Instagram and YouTube, users can gain insane popularity and fame using the app. Baby Ariel, Jacob Sartorious, and Loren Gray are a few of the Internet sensations who have already amassed millions of fans on the platform. Music labels can make money when popular videos lead to increased sales and streams, brands can make money through partnerships with the app, and even individual musers can make money. Fans or followers can purchase monetary gifts of anywhere from 5 cents to 50 dollars for their muser of choice, with a percentage of the revenue also going to the app itself and the distributor, i.e. Google or Apple. One muser reportedly earned $25,000 a month through partnerships and gifts as of last year.

TikTok Seen Through the Eyes of Your Average Teenager :

  • Teenager 1 (a high school junior): TikTok is an app I like to use because I can make really funny videos with different effects. My friends and I send each other videos throughout the day to laugh. I get a lot of my inspiration from other videos that I see in TikTok. I check my followers frequently. I like that you can see who is following you.  I have my setting set as ‘public’, but I don’t always post my videos.

  • Teenager 2 (a high school junior): I just have TikTok because of my best friend. We send each other funny videos. I also like the explore page for entertainment where I can see all the videos TikTok recommends. I really like the effects you can do on the videos and also the filters. Everything is so easy and simple to do. I like that I can see my followers and who they are. I have my setting on ‘private’ because I don’t want random people viewing my TikToks.

  • Teenager 3 (a high school senior): I don’t use TikTok. It’s mostly for the girls. None of my guy friends use it but I do know a few girls who use the app. The only time I ever see a TikTok is on Instagram when someone has posted their video there. I think they are pretty funny and entertaining, but I don’t think I will ever set up an account for myself.

  • Teenager 4 (a middle schooler): I just use it to make videos with my sisters. I get a lot of inspiration from the explore page by watching the videos that TikTok recommends. I really like that you can express yourself but I rarely use the effects. I find the app mostly easy to use but it’s not my preferred app; I probably spend about 15 minutes at most a day on the app.

And there you have it, TikTok in a nutshell. If you are a marketer, TikTok has huge potential for many brands targeting Generation Z. If you are just out to have a good time by posting goofy videos of yourself and connecting with your kids, TikTok definitely makes it easy to kill a few hours. It’s too early to say whether TikTok will stand the test of time but it’s clear that by absorbing Music.ly, it has given itself a solid head-start and the differences between the platforms has been well received.  A billion musers probably can’t be wrong, at least this week anyway.