Why TikTok is the most Creative Social platform
At this point, we have all heard of Tiktok, and we’ve most likely found ourselves spending hours scrolling through its neverending content. With its mix of comedy, viral dances, and a new class of social media advertising style, TikTok has truly taken over. But when I first started using the app in 2018, people asked me if I have kids under 16, and if not, if I enjoy being a kid again. They said that I was wasting my time.
I have been fascinated with some of the innovations and advancements in technologies I saw coming from China since I visited there for the first time in March 2018. When I was introduced to the app in its local version, I was hooked. Truth be told, I guess like many of you, I find it hard to put myself out there, so I joined mainly as a consumer of the content.
Back then, the content was frequently originating from the app’s native China, and I was amazed by TikTok’s creative capabilities potential. I felt it had the potential to alter social media as we understood it, pushing it to a more artistic, creativity-based approach. In fact, I started writing this article in the summer of 2019 but didn’t publish it at the time.
Now, more than ever, is the time to publish.
Because of the mass quarantine, the social media platform has exploded in popularity with over 1 billion global downloads. People looking for sneak peek entertainment and engaging content found a home on TikTok. Small business owners and independent entrepreneurs found new ways to promote and build an online presence – and businesses.
People have started noticing the untapped potential TikTok has – both positive and negative. The issue of privacy is an important one, and the platform should be criticized for its violation of users’ privacy, yet, the purpose of this article is to highlight the creative potential.
This potential has caught the attention of many businesses and marketers, who are waking up to the importance of the platform and seeing how they would be able to reach their desired audiences. But the very thing that makes TikTok so great is the very thing that is holding companies back – its requirement for endless creativity.
On TikTok, the demographic data can only get you so far. Now you need to truly tap into, and understand, your audience in order to stand out and grab their attention – creatively. And several things make TikTok stand out from other platforms to make it more attractive and creative than others.
Showing the “Real”
One reason it’s easier to connect with people on TikTok is because of the creators’ diversity. It is one of the main things that drew me to TikTok in the first place. On other platforms, we tend to see the same kind of creator- whether they be grouped by aesthetic or content genre. However, on TikTok, not everyone fits a specific mold.
Tiktok shows us that you can use social media to be funny, quirky, and, more importantly, celebrated for being yourself. While we assume that social media is a place where you only show the best side of life, TikTok is proof that being real with your audience can work too. Yes, there are popular videos that showcase the shiny things, such as riches or looks, but there are also popular videos from “real” people. To succeed on TikTok, you don’t need to look like an Instagram model.
With causes such as body positivity, mental health awareness, and celebration for people with disabilities, the app allows people from various backgrounds to share their stories. Popular users such as @andyispleasants, born deaf, describes himself as “talkative nonverbal,” and creates videos that consist of self humor, while @quincystavern creates relaxing cooking videos in a Dungeons and Dragons universe without being held back by his unique hand shape.
Popular songs also take on a whole new meaning on the platform, with Ruth B Superficial Love and its sentence “Cause I’m not perfect, I’m flawed and if you don’t like that, get lost.” The short musical part turned into a hashtag #imnotperfect attracting 121.5 Million views. Or Megan Thee Stallion’s “Body,” encouraging people to be confident in their own skin, and Macklemore’s “Glorious” showing people overcoming obstacles, such as self-esteem issues or surviving cancer.
And with that, we see how TikTok appeals to our humanity. Realistically, no one is perfect, and the ability to see that reflected on such a popular social media app is refreshing. It shows how we, as a society, seek to see ourselves reflected in what we consume. It shows how important it is to have a human-centric point of view and inclusive platforms that allow every type of voice.
We can also say that TikTok attracts such a wide variety of people because it gives creators the necessary tools to develop the content they want to put into the world. You don’t have to be a fancy video editor to create fantastic content on TikTok, allowing users to define what they want to publish.
But this is also where creativity enters. Since everyone starts at the same level with the same tools, you need to work harder to stand out. The large range of video editing software, filters, and text options let users develop their story in any way they want so that they need to find a way to be more compelling than the rest.
Even the limitation of 60 seconds pushes creators to create better content. Users are becoming experts in using their imagination to tell jokes and stories in such a short time. TikTok creators are celebrating creativity, and some videos amaze me.
This video is worth mentioning. This group of young Chinese (@179ling) are creating videos that celebrate planned-randomness. The investment of time and effort they put into the videos is enormous – (for example, one video they made involved throwing a clock on the wall – to get it right, they filmed it 400 times).
One of the trends on TikTok was investing in unique costumes – users dress as 4,5,6 different comic heroes or alter-egos changing customs in 60-sec videos like this one and this one. TikTok creators are able to find the humor in mundane parts of life by making it literal (like saying they can breathe underwater and then placing a bottle of water on their head). They can also create something funny by looking at it differently, like this video by @jilliandates330, where they use shadows as a jump rope.
As you can see, the list goes on and on. (If you want more recommendations, reach out to us – on TikTok, of course 😉 @theartian)
Most users weren’t taught the rules of cinematography or have taken a course on storytelling. They are just experimenting as they go, learning the ropes and using their creative minds to produce creative content.
If we think about Facebook, we think about our grandparents and parents. Instagram makes us think about millennials, Instagram models, and the Kardashians. There are thick borders between generations on each platform. For example, Facebook went from a popular way for teenagers to connect to being associated with parents and grandparents leaving charmingly funny comments on our pictures (Mom, please stop!). TikTok is the first multi-generational platform where it’s actually cool to do videos with your parents.
Accounts like @mmmjoemele, (with 10.4 million followers) have an entire family collaborating, often because the audience requests certain makeovers or pranks. And the hugely popular @addisonre (+71M followers) often does videos with her parents, spurring them to create their own accounts (Her mom’s account @sherinicolee attracted 12.5M followers).
In fact, there are many popular accounts of parents and grandparents with millions of followers. User @tiktok.gramps started by teaching how to make animals’ voices, landing 350,000 followers. User Nick Cho, otherwise known as @yourkoreandad, starts every video with “Hey, I’m your Korean Dad!” and a little pat on the virtual head. #fourgenerationchallenge depicts, as the name suggests, four generations of families. And a quick search of “grandma” in TikTok pulls up accounts with millions of followers, where many Gen Z grandkids help give their grandparents a voice on the platform.
I remember when it wasn’t cool to show your parents on social media and when older generations’ appearance meant the decline of a platform’s popularity with younger generations. But with 41% of TikTok’s user base between the ages of 16 and 24 (and growing), there doesn’t seem to be a concern for that.
But don’t other platforms reach that demographic and foster creativity as well? Well, there is another characteristic that makes TikTok innovative and adds to its ability to foster creativity: the increased ability to collaborate.
While other platforms require creators to reach out behind the scenes to collaborate with each other, TikTok allows complete strangers to engage with your content. In some cases, they can use it in a way that makes it their own. They even have three modes for different forms of collaboration: duet, stitch, and react. This means that your original content could then be used by other creators, which is then built on by more creators, creating a ripple effect across the platform. One of my favorite duets uses the theme song of the Titanic movie in a hilarious way.
One recently popular example is the Ratatouille musical that TikTok users are creating. There is currently a hashtag full of ideas, from songs, choreography, costumes, and set design. But not only are they collaborating on the theme, but they are also using these modes of duet and stitch to create musical duets on songs with two people or showcase how their dance goes with a particular song.
Their collaboration has paid off, and now the “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical” will be streamed as a virtual concert to help raise funds for The Actors’ Fund.
The power of TikTok is not limited to the platform itself but has a ripple effect across our general culture. There are Spotify playlists of viral TikTok songs, which often include tracks released decades ago (Welcome back “Pump up the jam”!), as well as physical gestures that are now instilled in popular culture. Other competitors are rushing to catch up with the TikTok style. Just recently, Instagram released its version called Reels.
But despite this popularity with Gen Z, many companies are still unwilling to tap into the potential of TikTok or are reluctant to invest in its creatives. One example is the story of @tonesterpaints, a Sherwin-Williams paint-mixer who was posting regularly on TikTok his work. After getting thousands of likes he prepared a marketing proposal but was denied a chance to pitch to the marketing team his ideas for TikTok. He was then fired for creating interest in the idea of mixing blueberries in paint. Now he is creating content for Florida Paints and with more than a 1.5Million followers on TikTok and almost 40K on Instagram – I guess his previous boss realizes (or not?) what s/he lost.
Another case is @djlemay2 (real name Dylan Lemay), a Cold Stone Creamery manager who gives his viewers an inside look into the ice cream shop’s inner workings. He tried to collaborate with the marketing team but was ignored. Ironically, the company has its own TikTok account with 109,000 followers – Lemay has 7.2 million.
From Data to Creativity
This is just an example of how some companies recognize the importance of their presence on the platform but still don’t understand the mandatory artistry they need to have to stay relevant in the platform. The very thing that makes TikTok special, its push for creativity, is what can hold some brands back. Like Cold Stone, brands like Prada and Louis Vuitton showcase their products but still lack user engagement content.
But other designer fashion brands are playing the game right. Brands like Gucci and Balmain, not only show off their clothes, but they also engage the user in challenges or create storylines that can appeal to their users’ lives. But it’s not only the famous and large corporates. I stumbled upon a video of bugs. It was an unpleasant video, but it had hundreds of thousands of likes. When I went to their page, I discovered it was a pest control company. Just like this small SME, individuals who run their own businesses, such as affiliate platforms, creating videos that show viewers different products, making it easy, comfortable, and valuable for them to get exposed, learn and, in the end, buy products. Their creativity helps them pop out in the crowded landscape.
In this new age of interactive media, creativity and originality are what rule the landscape. These qualities make content engaging and worth paying attention to. Once we adapt to this way of doing things, like TikTok, we will uncover new possibilities.