Last week, we spoke about social media and the growing concerns about social’s effect on teen wellbeing. But as countless articles cite stats on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram use, other channels are surfacing that are changing the way we think about social media. Introducing Tik Tok, the answer to all our woes.

A successor to Vine, Tik Tok is a short form video app allowing users to create 15-60 second video clips and share them online. Originally named, the app started out as a lip syncing tool, enabling users to lip sync to their favourite songs and create video content to match. Tik Tok use has exploded in recent months and as of July 2018, the app boasts over 500 million monthly active users. For context, those user numbers are bigger than Twitter’s entire user base and half the size of Instagram’s.

So what is making Tik Tok so popular? Tik Tok enables users to create video content, facilitates creativity and has a more relaxed, fun atmosphere than other platforms. There is also a distinct lack of brand involvement, giving the channel a parents-are-out-of-town atmosphere. Posts get a massive level of engagement and content which appears on the “For You” section can easily attract 50, 000 to 1 million views. Users have cited the incredible level of user engagement as part of the fun and popular memes are quickly reproduced and evolve. A quick browse through the “For You” section shows lip syncs, bizarre comedy sketches, user duets and cringe inducing content from over sincere crooners. The age bracket of many of the content creators is notable, with many teenagers holding the top numbers and producing the most engaging videos.

Tik Tok seems to be the antidote to over curated Instagram feeds and Twitter exhaustion. It’s a light hearted escape and nods back to early social media and a feeling of hanging out with your friends online. Popular creators build considerable social capital through their videos, which often veer into the meta and surreal. It’s unadulterated daftness and isn’t that what we all need right now?

Of course, things aren’t all rosy. Data privacy has long been a concern for social platforms and there are some question marks around Tik Tok’s data sharing practises. The app collects ALOT of data about users and judging by the privacy policy, will share it with many different stakeholders. The company were recently fined over $5million dollars by the Federal Trade Commission as they were found to have collected data from users under 13.

Despite these issues, Tik Tok is making an impact and Zuckerberg is rattled. Facebook have launched Lasso, in a bid to win over a portion of Tik Tok’s audience. Users are now incorporating Tik Tok videos into their Instagram Stories and Youtube is littered with compilations of the latest cringe content.

So what does the future look like for the app? The gradual move towards interstitial advertising will be interesting.  Tik Tok is currently working with a number of brands, like Chipotle and Hollister, who have tested a “Shop Now” feature, allowing users to purchase from within the app. As Instagram sharpens it’s focus on the in-app shopping market, it will be interesting to see how Tik Tok navigates this opportunity.

Tik Tok remains free of brand saturation and users are enjoying this period of cool, carefree engagement. All signs are pointing to the app being the future of social and it will be interesting to see how Tik Tok’s popularity influences user online behaviours going forward. Watch this space.

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