TikTok is one of the newest major social media platforms to arise, finding massive success across a range of ages.
The platform may be geared more towards a younger audience, but the parents and grandparents of the original target demographic have also hopped aboard the platform.
While some people thought that TikTok would eventually die out in the same way that Vine and Tumblr had previously, TikTok has proven that it has more staying power than some people give it credit for.
Why Is TikTok So Popular?
TikTok is the perfect storm of psychological tricks used by marketers daily, a chance to change your life, and fosters plenty of strong emotions in people.
There is plenty to view and explore on the social media platform, despite the videos normally being less than a minute long.
On TikTok, you’ll find everything from cute animal videos to activists spreading the word for their causes.
The unique aspect of TikTok is the vast variety of audience member types who view and post on the platform.
Like other social media platforms like YouTube or Facebook, TikTok has figured out its own way to give the platform an addictive quality.
The short videos and shots of dopamine that TikTok gives its viewers can cause them to lose hours of their day to the platform.
TikTok has also claimed its popularity by making sure that it is giving the type of content that you want to see, with help from the algorithm that learns how you use the platform.
The more you use TikTok, the better it knows which videos to show you.
Plenty of users see TikTok as more than a way to socialize online or gather entertainment.
There have been plenty of musicians and entertainers who have gotten their start or a boost in popularity thanks to the social media platform.
TikTok is best known for all the trends, for better or worse, that have risen to popularity on the site.
From recreating dances or scenes to stealing the sinks out of schools, TikTok has seen an array of trends take over its platform.
Those who were expecting TikTok to end up like Vine have been proven wrong, especially as companies have found ways to market themselves on the platform.
1. Scrolling Keeps The Dopamine Coming
Although you may not realize it, your brain gets a chance at a shot of dopamine coming to your brain when you scroll through social media.
With each shot of dopamine, your brain craves taking the chance of getting another shot of dopamine.
Dopamine is one of many types of neurotransmitters that send signals to your body and brain.
It’s responsible for helping you feel pleasure, focus, and strive towards things that ignite those neurotransmitters.
Scrolling makes it easy for you to try for another dopamine shot that you can even do it accidentally.
Even if you accidentally scroll, chances are that you’ll still watch whatever you see as long as it is something you find interesting.
When discussing the addictive nature of TikTok with Forbes, Doctor Julie Albright made a point to state how easy TikTok makes it to get lost in the never-ending supply of videos.
Scrolling down your home page can quickly become like a Las Vegas slot machine, with the reward being dopamine instead of money or chips.
Anyone who uses social media knows that not every post is created equal, with some posts being more pleasing than other posts.
The gamble for another video that will entertain you enough to prevent you from putting your phone down can cause you to lose an afternoon.
Like any other addictive substance, you will feel the need to consume more content before you are satisfied.
The longer you use social media like TikTok, the more time you’ll spend on it before you get tired of it.
This psychological reaction to the chance a user takes is called random reinforcement.
Random reinforcement ensures that there will always be a reward, but when it actually happens is without reason or any type of schedule.
This isn’t the only way TikTok plays with your brain.
2. Playing To Those With Short Attention Spans
Doctor Julie Albright believes that TikTok and similar social media platforms are shortening the attention spans of the human population.
TikTok was able to appeal better to younger audiences with their shorter videos.
Dr. Albright believes that the younger generations are more likely to be affected by the digital change that has occurred over the past decade.
Even in her own classroom, she is able to see how short-sighted students have become.
One of Dr. Albright’s students claimed that she was planning to become a songwriter, but she had plans to change her career goals after three months if she couldn’t find any success in the music business.
She was shocked by the short time frame that the student had given herself to achieve her dream career.
The rapid change in the world around us has made it more difficult for younger generations to imagine what they’d do for the next five years.
Doctor Albright doesn’t see TikTok as the downfall of humanity.
Instead, it offers the younger generations a chance to be more connected with the entire world and see the world in a way that is completely unique from previous generations.
However, whether attention spans are truly shrinking has been called into question.
While some people will say that human attention spans have become shorter than goldfish’s attention spans, the research for the length of a fish’s attention span has never been studied.
The same company, Statistic Brain, was the one that published the attention span statistics for both humans and brains.
Their sources for these statistics can’t be verified by the universities that supposedly found the information.
Most psychologists believe that a person’s attention span is based on what you’re doing and how much mental stimulation that task requires.
TikTok tasks users with interacting with stimulating short videos.
3. The Ability to Use Copyrighted Music
TikTok is in a unique position from other social media platforms because of users’ ability to use copyrighted music, as long as the music is taken from their website.
The reason that you’re able to use copyrighted music on TikTok and not on other social media platforms like Twitch and YouTube is that TikTok has a Copyright License Agreement or IP Licensing Agreement with many labels and artists.
Record labels quickly learned how beneficial it was to allow users on TikTok to use their music, acting as some of the best free marketing available on the online market.
Countless artists have risen to popularity on the social media platform.
Each time someone uses an artist’s song on the platform, the artist is given some royalties from TikTok.
When you create a TikTok post with copyrighted music, you are costing the company money.
TikTok makes this money back by selling advertisements and having the right to use your content as they see fit, meaning that you could end up in a TikTok ad or being reposted by the platform’s own account without them needing to ask for your permission.
Although TikTok has deals in place with many of the most popular recording labels and artists, not all copyrighted music can be used on the platform.
If you upload music from your music library that isn’t allowed on the site, your video may be taken down for copyright infringement as it goes against the Intellectual Property Policy.
Those looking to avoid copyright infringement will want to consider where the music came from, where the video was filmed, who is in the video, and what is visible in the video.
Make sure that your music comes from TikTok, and you have permission to film at your location.
4. The All-Knowing Algorithm
TikTok’s algorithm determines what videos the social media page will show you on your For You page.
According to TikTok, the algorithm finds a stream of videos that are based on your interests in order to help users find the kind of content and content creators they want to see.
TikTok figures out your interests by looking at the accounts you follow, accounts that you’ve hidden, where and what you comment on, what you choose to like, what you choose to send to others, what your favorite videos are, what videos you’ve told the application you’re not interested in, and videos that you’ve reported.
The algorithm takes note of how long you watch a video and the kind of content that you’re posting on your own account.
TikTok categorizes posts by looking at the video’s caption, sounds, hashtags, trending topics, and filters used.
Even your device and account settings are used to identify what videos you will most likely prefer, including information like country setting, language, type of mobile device, and the categories that you selected when you first joined the social media platform.
The algorithm also helps users avoid the kind of content that they don’t want to see, such as duplicate posts, content you’ve already seen, spam videos, and potentially upsetting content.
Potentially upsetting content includes things such as graphic medical procedures or legal consumption of regulated goods.
What makes TikTok’s algorithm unique from those of other platforms such as Instagram or YouTube is TikTok’s focus on offering a diverse serving of videos for its users.
One way that TikTok achieves having a diverse selection of videos is by not recommending videos based on viewer count or previous success, making it incredibly easy to grow on the platform.
The algorithm is tailored towards creating creators out of viewers.
5. The Potential For Fame
TikTok wants to have as many creators as possible, rather than making users jump through countless and changing hoops like other social media platforms.
The platform wants its users to find enough success on the platform to keep them coming back for more content and interaction.
TikTok makes it incredibly easy to find success by switching your account from a traditional account to a TikTok Pro account.
This will give you access to different statistics about your account, including the popularity of your videos.
When considering the type of content you want to post on your account, you should consider the type of things that you’re interested in.
A lot of niches have found communities and success on the platform, such as pottery, parenting, thrift shopping, knitting, gothic culture, or even different dog and cat breeds.
The higher quality your video is, the more likely it will be that TikTok will promote your video.
You will want to be mindful of your camera and audio quality and edit your video in a way that shows a bit of skill.
TikTok loves its trends, and many people find success simply following the new trends.
It can be difficult to keep up with all the trends and determine which ones are best for your page and followers.
TikTok is also more likely to promote a video that collaborates with other users on the platform or even different brands.
The sense of community that TikTok offers is one of the reasons that users return to the site.
TikTok has been the birthplace of multiple popular internetainers and musicians, such as Grace Victoria, Charli D’Amelio, Nathanie Ngu, Michael Le, Savannah LaBrant, Tabitha Brown, and Zahra Hashimee.
Well-known celebrities such as Lil Nas X, Jason Derulo, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have begun their musical careers on the platform.
6. A New Trend Every Week
TikTok is best known for the many trends that spread across the platform and onto other social media platforms.
Trends started with dance videos but have become a crucial part of multiple genres of videos that TikTok has to offer.
Some trends require the creator to use audio clips from popular videos, television shows, or even other TikTok posts.
Other trends include putting together slide shows to certain songs, such as Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse.
TikTok trends may also include pulling pranks on your loved ones and getting their reaction on camera.
These trends aren’t limited to humans, with some trends being about showing off your furry best friend.
When users have positive interactions with trends, TikTok will show them more of the same trend.
After people are comfortable with a trend, they’ll be more likely to join the trend themselves and are swiftly added to the For You page of other users who have enjoyed the trend.
Eventually, similar types of videos begin appearing on YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and even Snapchat feeds.
There is no other platform that better excels at starting and maintaining trends like TikTok.
Some of TikTok’s most popular trends have been the Vogue Challenge, creating your own album cover, turning your comments or direct messages into quotes, “what I mean when I say I’m from…”, “don’t be surprised if one day I just…”, and the Adult Swim trend.
Trends can come from popular songs, famous movie lines, or even be a part of a company’s marketing plan.
Adult Swim had more people talking about its television channel than any other television channel when television channels have struggled to stay relevant.
The key to finding success with trendy videos is making them unique enough to stand out among all the other videos like it.
7. Finding Communities On TikTok
TikTok wants to be more than a place to find entertaining content, but rather a place where people can find others who are just like them and celebrate the things they love.
On the social media platform, you can find communities dedicated to different fashion styles, lifestyles, geographical locations, or whatever way you want to categorize yourself.
Part of being successful on the platform is being willing to find others who are like you and interacting with one another by commenting on each other’s videos, liking their content, and collaborating on videos.
Some of the biggest communities on TikTok are the alternative fashion community, the pet-centric community, the cleaning community, the comedy community, and the travel community.
These communities can be broken down into even smaller niches.
Some people believe it was TikTok that brought alternative fashion back to the forefront of popular fashion and the shockingly giant community of alternative creators would support that theory.
The alternative fashion community can be broken down into niches such as gothic fashion, e-girl or e-boy fashion, and traditional punk.
Similar to Instagram, it is common for pet owners to have TikTok accounts solely for their pets, including cats, dogs, rabbits, chinchillas, and even snakes.
Some of the biggest niches in the pet-centric community also include training videos, grooming, or even pet adoption.
Many TikTok users have found that cleaning videos are satisfying to them, whether it’s going over a carpet with a carpet cleaner or watching the sped-up version of a video of someone cleaning up their room.
House cleaning businesses have used this to their advantage to promote their businesses or even hire new house cleaners.
The communities of TikTok are fiercely loyal to their causes and their favorite creators, whether they be someone’s personal account or their business’ account.
TikTok Isn’t Going Anywhere
Although there have been multiple situations that have put TikTok’s success in jeopardy, TikTok is here to stay.
TikTok is now just as influential as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat.
While TikTok may not be for everyone, the social media platform really seems to click with a lot of people.
With all the brands and creators that have joined the platform, it’s safe to say that TikTok is going to be a part of our lives for a long time.