Why You Should Stop Dismissing TikTok as Just Another “Teen App”
I downloaded TikTok at the end of 2019 to see what all the hype was about. Gary Vaynerchuk had been peddling the app pretty intensely on Instagram, telling everyone it’s the next best thing. I figured if Gary V is a fan, then it has to be something special.
I used the app here and there for a few weeks. I couldn’t quite get into it. I found it entertaining, but I also found some of the videos to be too exaggerated to get views/likes. I especially didn’t like the videos of people pranking their siblings or pets (albeit somewhat dangerously) to go viral.
Like a classic TikTok user not from the Gen Z age group, I didn’t really see the point. I stopped using it until the end of January 2020. I went on a trip to Miami for my birthday and captured a hilarious video of a smoke machine at a club restaurant, swallowing up my friends, and I knew I had to share it with people. I posted it to TikTok the next day and it blew up. To date, it has over 145,000 views.
Naturally, I was hooked. Getting that taste of exposure was hard to ignore. I experimented with a “funny” account for a few weeks, but I couldn’t seem to get any of the other videos to stick. Then I decided to open an account, @alexfasulobiz, that is entirely related to what I do for a living.
In just 6-weeks, I have amassed 32,000 followers and over 1 million video clicks (it has taken me FOUR years on Instagram to mirror these stats). One of my videos is approaching the 1 million view mark, with 94,000 likes that grow every single day. Unlike other social media sites, TikTok videos live on forever. They don’t die in the algorithm after just 5-seconds. Instead, if they provide enough engagement to users, they can grow by thousands of likes and views, every day, for YEARS.
Yes, TikTok can provide your brand with the ability to INFINITELY market to potential buyers on the app, for free. Of course, all good things come to an end, which is why in the years to come, TikTok will probably succumb to the algorithms that have choked Instagram and Facebook. But for right now, it’s a marketing Mecca, and the entire platform is yours for the taking.
Move Out of the Way, Zuckerberg
To date, TikTok has 500-million monthly users, and was the second most downloaded app of 2019, ahead of Facebook and Instagram (WhatsApp beat it out for the number one spot). It’s not just teenagers on there anymore, either. 59% of users on the app are over the age of 24, which means dismissing it as just another teen fad no longer makes sense.
TikTok is able to do what Facebook and Instagram never could do: it has taken the idea of sharing your life, your accomplishments, your appearance, and your comedy, and it has made it possible to post all of these “boastful” things in a way that is not pretentious. We’re all sick of the influencer promotions on Instagram. I can say, as an Instagram influencer, that yes, even I am sick of it! I’m sick of the pompousness, the stuffiness, and good Lord, the photoshopping.
When you provide content in video format, you can’t photoshop anymore. You also can’t pose perfectly until that light hits the corner of your cheekbone just right. You have to embrace yourself, your body, and your purpose for your video.
TikTok allows people to be themselves. If you’re hilarious, it doesn’t matter what you look like — you can go viral. If you make clothing at home and want to show people how it’s done, you can go viral. If you want to start a new dance and hope the song creator sees it, you can go viral! Truly, anything is possible in the world of TikTok right now.
And that is for one very important reason: TikTok allows you to actually go viral.
Facebook made the biggest blunder of their business existence when they launched the algorithm we suffer through on their apps today. When I post content to Instagram, it dies instantly. No one sees it — not even all of my followers see it. Instagram would rather make way for those that pay than the creative people within their app actually making viral-worthy content.
It’s defeating, frustrating, and hopeless. It’s for this reason that I open up TikTok every day when I wake up — NOT Instagram. I would even be indifferent to Instagram and Facebook disappearing right now… that’s how content I am with TikTok and the potential to actually REACH people.
In the last two months, I have met reporters and journalists from local papers, NBC, Forbes, and BBC on TikTok. I have collaborated with big name bloggers. I have been approached by a college to create an online course. And I have even been engaged in production for a documentary series.
TikTok has removed the need for any kind of middleman in media and news production. It’s all thanks to an algorithm that actually rewards content creators for filling the app with ingenious videos.
But, China Owns TikTok…
Yes, China owns TikTok. China owns Alibaba, Aliexpress, JD, and TMall. China owns close to 2,400 American companies that employ 114,000 people, which is the same number of people employed by Google Facebook, and Tesla.
And oh, wait… what about those “harmless” Instagram and Facebook apps on your phone owned by an “American company” through Mark Zuckerberg? Yeah, he’s selling your data through partnerships with Chinese firms like Huawei.
So, if you think your personal data is protected when you sign into Facebook and Instagram every day, think again.
Every person is relinquishing the rights to their personal information, shopping data, and yes, even facial expressions and voice comments (we all get those Instagram ads after, out loud, proclaiming we need a new product) when they download an app to their phone.
The fact that TikTok is owned by China doesn’t change that.
What TikTok Has Taught Me About Gen Z
Gen Z, much like millennials today, will soon become the largest group of consumers, voters, etc. in our country. They won’t be 17-years-old forever. Making time to understand these people now is tremendously beneficial for your business. You can find new ways to market to them as teenagers, as well as fine-tune future services or products that will adhere to their wants and needs as young adults.
TikTok is bridging the gap between generations that has caused the millennial vs. boomer battle of today. Wouldn’t you agree we’d all be better off respecting different generations instead of dismissing them? Gen Z has both good and bad qualities, like every other generation. They are much more comfortable posting videos dancing in sweatpants, with no makeup on, than millennials would be. They are a generation built on mental health understanding and awareness — I do not see them bullying each other like my generation did in middle school. And they are a generation determined to bring some light and happiness into a world that has otherwise seemed pretty gloom-and-doom since they were born.
I, for one, find inspiration in these young people. Their creative content on TikTok is mind-boggling. Their support of one another as content creators is something to applaud. All of the trolling comments I get on my videos come, predominantly, from male millennials. It’s not from the youngsters.
Embrace TikTok Before You’re Forced To
So, it’s time to stop shrugging off TikTok as a fad you hope will go away. I predict it will overtake Instagram’s 1 billion user mark by the end of 2020 (the amount of people downloading the app in quarantine right now is insane). I also predict it will force Zuckerberg to shift that Instagram algorithm back to an older version where posters actually received exposure. If he doesn’t, I think TikTok could take down the entire Facebook empire (Facebook reported its slowest ever revenue growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2019). Personally, knowing the lengths to which Facebook alters news information to influence our elections, I wouldn’t be too sad if that happened.
If you want to smile, laugh, cry, and feel again, download TikTok today. Give it a few days and you’ll see what I mean.