How did TikTok lead the trend of short video?
In recent years, a newly launched short video application has entered the market at a breakneck speed and opened up a field of its own. It leads a new wave on a global scale. The rise of this brand-new form has had different influences on politics, economy, and culture, and our lives have changed accordingly.
What is TikTok？
TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, founded by Zhang Yiming in 2012. TikTok’s nature is a social media platform that allows users to create and exchange the contents they produce. (Bahiyah, 2020) It is used to make short dancing, lip-syncing, comedy, and talent videos. It was launched to the Chinese market in 2016 and launched in most markets outside of China in 2017. It has become a ‘phenomenon’ in the world today. After nearly four years of precipitation and accumulated experience, in 2020, TikTok shows its strong heritage and explosive power. In May, the total number of Chinese users reached 400 million. There are 49 million monthly active users in the United States. Moreover, its popularity is still rising continuously, and its download volume is always at a high level. This year, due to viruses’ influence, many people are trapped at home doing nothing, so this makes them more inclined to download and try to use new applications. This is a fuse of the whole situation. TikTok can make users stick to it because of its advantages.
How to use TikTok
When you open this platform, you will see its concept on the page. It seeks to ‘inspire creativity’ of users and ‘bring joy’ to the users. It centers on this idea and provides services to users, making its service quality higher, leading to its long-term success. In such an environment, users can be divided into two categories. Creators and viewers. For these two types of people, TikTok provides different meticulous services.
For creators, TikTok is a perfect platform to show themselves, and creators and platforms have a stronger sense of interconnection. TikTok is an integrated form of communication that combines user-generated content and social media. (Bahiyah, 2020, p122) It is a manifestation of user-generated media. Creating content is its backbone, and without users providing content, they cannot make any progress. Unlike many other video platforms, its content is created by countless users instead of few media producers. Therefore, TikTok especially needs users to use it because of their initiative and motivation. At this time, what must be mentioned is one of the characteristics of TikTok, which is ‘short.’ ‘Short’ is the most eye-catching feature that distinguishes TikTok from other competitors. (Hou, 2020, p13) It has become the most significant selling point of brand marketing. (Zhi, 2018) Time of 15 seconds adapted to the use scenario of mobile and fragmentation. This is very easy to use for creators. Especially those beginners. These thresholds, fewer operations, and daily sharing encourage users to create. Although TikTok does not have very high video quality requirements, the platform will also have some incentive mechanisms for those high-quality video producers. TikTok provides an innovation that allows users to spend their time spuming creativity. The funny content is expected to increase their social presence and make them famous and get the entertainment industry opportunity. (Donny, 2020, p47) The platform uses the characteristics that people want to have a higher social status, allowing people to create some popular content, thereby attracting more people spontaneously. Like a chain, one link after another. TikTok’s content starts with the needs of users. When it increases the diversity and high quality, it meets the usage characteristics of different users and increases users’ stickiness.
From the perspective of viewers, TikTok is more like a service platform for acquiring new things. So TikTok’s page design is convenient for the audience to watch. The first is the portrait viewing mode it pioneered. All videos start playing immediately, and users can switch just by swiping the screen. This is different from social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, or video platforms such as YouTube. On Instagram, most users only like those they follow, and it would seem strange to rashly like strangers. Although you can get recommended videos on YouTube according to your preferences, you will often miss interesting content due to various factors. The page setting of TikTok’s ‘For you’ page allows people to get more information. You are forced to be exposed to those videos and sometimes find unexpected joy. Furthermore, according to TikTok’s community environment, liking an ordinary stranger will not be very obtrusive. Like many other social media platforms, TikTok’s recommendation engine relies on a complex set of weighted factors to recommend content based on user performances. (Figliola, 2020, p5) This makes TikTok, compared to Vine, allow different audiences to watch different content. There are also many daily sharing of niche cultures on TikTok. This approach allows them to find their circle faster. Simultaneously, many political current events will be widely recommended to everyone’s pages, allowing people to be more exposed to news and national events than before.
TikTok, with such features, soon reshape the video-sharing market.
Governance and regulations
TikTok can provide such meticulous and considerate services, and it is indispensable for the collection of user data, and in this process, it is easy to infringe on user privacy. TikTok is subject to Chinese laws, and the platform needs to submit user data when required by the government. Many countries are not accepted, so TikTok is undergoing more and more scrutiny, and the US government suspects that it poses a threat to users’ privacy. (Figliola, 2020, p2) However, this is not something to worry too much about. The dependence of users on the platform has led to their loyalty to the platform. Such loyalty needs to be exchanged for mutual trust. Many practices of TikTok make us feel that it provides us with a relatively safe environment. ‘Platforms are not platforms without moderation.’ (Gillespie, 2018, 21) TikTok also has a series of regulations to manage this platform. In its ‘Community Guideline,’ 10 topics are discussed, basically about the prohibition of content that endangers viewers’ physical and mental health and the security of the platform. ByteDance has always provided legal information and dares to expose the mistakes of influential celebrities. The company itself has strong credibility. TikTok makes a great effort to minimize legal attacks and to attract more users.
Although Tiktok is a secure platform under various regulatory constraints, there are still frequent users being deceived. This situation also occurs on many platforms, and it seems to be unavoidable. However, in addition to users’ self-improving awareness of prevention, the platform can also take some auditing measures to reduce such situations.
As a product of the commercial company, TikTok must have its profit model. There are two ways for it, advertising and in-app purchase.
This business model is similar to most user-generated content, and the primary strategy is advertising its audience. With billions of users’ data, it can help its clients find their target audience. (Yang, 2020, p20). This model has its own five types of services.
It can have 60seconds of full-screen and long-form video.
It can have three seconds still images and three to five seconds video when open the application.
It can appear on the screen as the regular TikTok videos.
Branded Hashtag challenge
This method aims at raising users’ engagements with the company’s brands.
It provides the opportunity to transform businesses’ commercial messages into fun TikTok stickers.
These five types meet the needs of commodities that need to be advertised. With TikTok’s substantial user base, various brands and companies have come to seek cooperation and invest in advertising.
This virtual currency exchange is not a novel approach. The TikTok coins are usually used to buy virtual gifts and send them to their favorite TikTok creators during a live stream to appreciate their performance.
Most of the videos in TikTok rely on music. Whether it is lip-synced or short dance or other, background music can always set off an atmosphere and give the audience a sense of substitution. Such a great demand makes TikTok seek cooperation with music platforms to obtain a large amount of copyrighted music. According to the news on August 31, TikTok announced that it had joined the Apple Music partner program. Users in mainland China can listen to the complete songs in the Apple Music library in the TikTok.
Another vital partner of TikTok is Alibaba. The involvement of third-party e-commerce companies on such a platform is a sagacious decision. Although there is a profit split, the two parties can guide each other’s passenger flow and achieve the expected profit.
For users, such cooperation is undoubtedly very convenient for users themselves. Some micro-celebrities obtain profits through e-commerce platforms, and viewers can find the item faster. Not to mention the use of music, it is more convenient for creation, and there will be more novel content.
Impact on society
Realizing that such a platform is a cross-age feature is due to the significant repercussions in society. The Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin shows a good example. This year’s Wuhan suffered a severe economic blow after several months of the blockade. On April 8, with the Department of E-commerce of the Ministry of Commerce, Douyin provided traffic support to Hubei enterprises, creators, anchors, official agencies, and media, and demonstrated the restarted Hubei by publishing high-quality content and live streaming. In the live broadcast on April 9, many Douyin celebrities helped to sell local products. The total sales of live streaming products reached 17.93 million yuan that day, and the cumulative hot-selling products exceeded 299,000. At that moment, it no longer exists as an entertaining social media platform, but rather a feeling of making a meager contribution to the country. It reflects the sense of national commonality in the face of disasters.
Not only that, but its substantial social influence makes it not only serve as a social media platform but also bear the responsibility of educating people. Since most of the groups that TikTok targets are young people, it is in concept building. Like Douyin, many official accounts, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ accounts, will convey positive news to young people. It also exposes contemporary youth to political knowledge. It also plays a significant role in promoting culture. People from different countries are on the same platform, recording their real lives. This is a kind of sharing, but also a kind of cultural spread. In China, the spread of traditional culture mainly depends on media platforms such as Douyin. Such a quick pace can match modern people’s fast pace and let contemporary young people understand the fragmented time’s traditional culture. More and more people are committed to this.
TikTok, as a video-sharing platform, exists as a commercial product. It has a profitability and can guarantee continuous operation. However, at the same time, it has created a unique video sharing mode and has been continuously optimized based on the user experience. With a strong social influence, as a new platform, it performed very well. Nevertheless, this kind of influence also has disadvantages. The management of the platform is still somewhat weak. Although the platform itself is safe, there are still scams. If people can be audited, this situation can be reduced.
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