It might be a bold claim to say that TikTok has become, if not the, then at least one of the most democratic social media platforms of today. But looking into their algorithm you can see why, and numbers don’t lie, do they?
You want to become a viral sensation? Well, to quote the legendary Britney “You better work *****”. And if you don’t have the following on Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube that might be more than true. The competition is fierce as many social media platforms are filled to the brim with wannabee-influencers not even mentioning the tsunami of content available each second. The market is so to speak quite saturated.
Other social media platforms create a hierarchy where the bigger you are the more exposure you get based on your target audience's active online behavior such as following, friending, subscribing, liking, or clicking. An incentive to grow faster and maybe even pay for it. And there you have your business model.
On the other hand, you have TikTok where growth is open for anyone with a creative mindset. The app makes this possible by linking you to an audience based on behavioural patterns that are more passive, like how many times they let a video loop, how quickly they scroll, and if they are drawn to any special effect, filter, or sound. A democratic social media platform where anyone can make it if they understand the algorithm.
So how did TikTok manage to become the democratic power that the Internet didn’t know it needed? First of all, what does viral even mean? Remember that meme that you and your friends used to share years ago? A viral sensation that you probably weren’t alone in using, rather a part in making even more viral.
Your closest digital dictionary describes viral as “Used to describe something that quickly becomes very popular or well known by being published on the Internet or sent from person to person by mail, phone, etc.”
Memes come and go, and nowadays the trick is to use that virality from a long-term perspective. How do you go from a meme to a real influencer? TikTok is part of the answer as creating those viral moments has never been easier due to several features in the app. Combine this with TikToks hyper-efficient recommendation system aiming content directly at target audiences sharing the same tastes and interests, and you have magic. Another part of it is the so-called moderation where the content is tagged based on various categories such as sounds, hashtags, and captions raising the quality of the content even further.
It can be quite scary to publish yourself on a social media platform. Is this selfie good enough? Is this video funny enough? Is this the right filter? With its fifteen-second videos, TikTok has made it super easy for anyone to post content on their platform.
On TikTok, the norm is homemade videos filmed on your phone so no need to feel the pressure of creating crisp and perfectly edited videos. You just flip out your phone and start creating. Compare this to Youtube where a lot of creators have expensive cameras and setups to get that perfect TV shot.
From the start, TikTok gave their users the possibility to produce content as well as live out their creativity in an impressive way. Give a kid some crayons and they will become an artist. But rather than painting on your kitchen wall, it’s in an app.
On TikTok, users can control anything from the length of their videos to recording their own audio or using existing sound or music. This creative liberty obviously makes for better more entertaining content and therefore more traffic. And we all know, TikTok is still bringing in the numbers compared to other social media platforms.
Likewise, the art of trending on TikTok is something that can be achieved by anyone. With several ways of trending on TikTok, like participating in a challenge, you can reach a new and big audience. It all depends on your content.
Remember Dogg Face? His real name was Nathan Apodaca and while skateboarding to the tune of Fleetwood Mac's hit “Dreams” he drank his Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice… and went viral. A combination between several factors like the trending song combined with the cool video of Nathan skating and also the hashtags used. It shows how easy it is to actually reach the viral top.
Another aspect of the Ocean Spray story is that TikTok is still a hot topic on other platforms. How many TikTok-compilations haven’t you seen on Youtube for example? But apart from other social media platforms TikTok still makes the big headlines.
For example when a new cool campaign is launched or why not the Dogg Face video we just mentioned that has been written about and highlighted in media outlets, as a successful although random branding story for Ocean Spray. The drink that Nathan Apodaca just happened to be drinking.
It might not be the democracy we’re used to but it’s the digital version of it. One where anyone can make it no matter the amount of money, followers, or technical equipment. TikTok is about creating moments, viral moments. Whether you’re ready to grab those opportunities is totally up to you… you know, like in a democracy.