If you said the word “TikTok” perhaps 12 months ago, you may have received a bemused look from someone thinking you were insinuating for them to hurry up their pace.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or abstained from social media completely, it’s hard to avoid people talking about and using TikTok today.
TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform in the world, with users in the U.S. growing by a staggering five-fold in just an 18-month period. With 500 million active users worldwide (Datareportal, 2019), the Chinese originated social media platform is making big gains to compete with the giant platforms of Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube.
Many would-be users have labeled TikTok as a platform for kids, but similarly, Facebook and even Instagram received similar labels in their early days.
So the question has to be asked, Will TikTok be around to stay, and will it really be the next relevant social media platform.
TikTok’s mission is “to capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments, directly from the mobile phone. TikTok enables everyone to be a creator, and encourages users to share their passion and creative expression through their videos.”
Since the evolution of social media platforms, many have come and gone. Although MySpace is actually still around, the rise and fall of this platform demonstrates how quickly users can migrate to another platform.
However, in 2020, it feels like platforms have actually now become established, and many users don’t want to uproot their digital lives, content and media and move to another platform, which is why Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat have kept a large share of the social media market.
Platforms have tried and failed to compete, such is the sheer size of these now-incumbents. However, TikTok has now demonstrated such high growth that it cannot be ignored if you are active on social media.
Even if the platform is referred to as being largely for kids, that certainly shouldn’t discredit its potential as the audience are the future.
With TikTok now being larger than Twitter and LinkedIn, although wildly different platforms, the content shared will inevitably become more important in travel.
Over 40% of TikTok users are aged 16-24, and with travel inspiration being shared on Instagram for the last few years, allowing the consumer of information to see beautiful and inspiring destinations to add to their bucket lists, a video content platform such as TikTok will surely only produce the same interest.
What is interesting about TikTok is the reality it rewards. With users posting short clip videos, there is little scope for the over-edited and monotonous content that can be produced by “influencers” on Instagram.
Instagram “influencers” will often overly edit pictures to demonstrate an unrealistic reality, whether that is adding in clouds, adjusting sunsets and lighting, or even as far as completely removing people from pictures. This, in my opinion, is an unhealthy outlook, as when you may travel to the Trevi Fountain in Rome and find that the bustling lively atmosphere is nothing like you have seen in an over-edited picture on Instagram, the reality may lead to disappointment, when in fact the vibrancy should be celebrated.
This has led to the question of how realistic are the lives people really portray on Instagram, and other social media marketing services.
With TikTok, there is not much you can “fake” about posting videos. Either you make great content, funny content or engaging videos. There is no aspect of taking hundreds of pictures, editing the best ones, and reposting different angle shots that many people tend to do on Instagram.
A short video platform will likely mean what you see is what you get. Videos that portray a destination, an experience and importantly, the reality, can be much more engaging to an audience than yet another picture of a couple hanging out of a train in Sri Lanka or “candidly” being photographed with a floating breakfast tray in Bali.
But the audience is smart, and always have been. People crave reality, although edited beautiful content is great, it is not what we want to see all the time.
With over 1 billion videos watched on TikTok every day, the platform continues to grow exponentially, and although I doubt it will surpass Facebook and Instagram in terms of size, it could be premature to ignore its rapid growth and market potential.