As I write this, TikTok is #1 on the Apple App Store and #6 on Google Play. The wildly popular social media platform features very short video clips with lipsyncing, original music, musings, comedy, dancing and much more. You can watch for hours or jump in and make your own videos.
I don’t pretend to be a TikTok expert, but I’ve probably watched 100+ hours of videos in 16-second increments, and here’s what I have learned.
1. Your Kids Are On It
According to stats from DataReportal, App Annie and others, TikTok is coming in a close second in daily users to Instagram, and the audience is definitely skewed younger. In fact there are several really funny videos from over-30 TikTok-ers about how they old they feel on the app.
I’ll be honest… I haven’t posted any TikToks yet because I’m afraid and I don’t have the time to spend on the hours of editing and special effects that I would want to use.
2. The Special Effects Are Spectacular
We all know Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others have built-in filters that make our postings more interesting, but TikTok’s video tools are outrageous. Here’s just one video of thousands that show TikTok’s editing capabilities:
3. You Won’t Like It at First
The first time I tried out TikTok, I frowned, shrugged my shoulders and closed the app. What a waste of time, I thought. But I kept watching it grow in popularity, so I read this article and forced myself to give it a try. Now I’m addicted.
Being initially mystified by the popularity of TikTok is universal, as this TikTok trend shows (Bad word warning):
4. Your TikTok Isn’t Going to Be Like Your Kids’ TikTok
I’ve met several parents who tell me, “I’m on TikTok because my kids are on there, and I want to see what they’re watching.” TikTok has completely mastered the art of personalization, so you’ll never be able to see the same stuff unless you and your kid share an account. TikTok tailors every feed to your preferences to the extreme.
I have a wonderful friend who REALLY loves dogs, so I saw a couple of dog videos and sent them to her. All of a sudden, my feed is full of nothing but dogs.
And I liked a few art videos, so I keep getting these:
5. Famous People Are TikTok-ing
TikTok now has ads and celebrities and all kinds of other benchmarks that indicate its growing popularity. The Washington Post actually hired a staffer just to make TikToks.
I think Actor Will Smith does a great job with getting in the true TikTok spirit. Some celebrities just treat it as a shorter YouTube or Facebook post.
6. The Bits Are Super Catchy
One of the first TikTok trends that I fell in love with was this one:
It has 7.5 million likes and thousands and thousands of copies by others. I was walking around the house singing it and trying out the dance for weeks. TikTok was also where I discovered that I adore the artist Lizzo. Several parts of her songs are TikTok trends. I’m not going to link to them here because of my next point…
7. Many TikToks Are #@&!$ Crass
I don’t listen to much popular music these days, so I’ve been learning all kinds of new tunes through TikTok. And many of them have words so bad my grandmother’s spirit may rise from the dead and wash my mouth out with soap. One of my favorite viral trends was where teenagers would film their parents reactions as the kids lipsync to a song from Insane Clown Posse. The parents open their mouths in shock as the teen laughs and laughs. It cracked me up, but I certainly wouldn’t have the audio playing at work or school.
There’s lots of cussing and very, err, descriptive lyrics. When you run across these, you can dislike them, and eventually TikTok will probably stop showing them to you.
8. People Are Worried about TikTok
TikTok is facing a barrage of criticism for a few reasons. First, the platform appeals to kids, so people are worried about privacy and what kids can be exposed to. Second, the app comes from China, and many are suspicious about what the company may be doing with the data. Also, some of the content has been distasteful, negative, controversial and downright vile.
Another TikTok controversy revolves around royalties and copyright infringement. People take almost any snippet of sound from almost anywhere they like, and TikTok will credit the “borrower” with the creation of the clip. That means artists are not getting credit when their music is used, and, even more importantly, they’re not getting paid.