A couple of months ago was the first time I heard about TikTok. It was a lovely day in spring and… Haha, no. Somebody on Twitter asked what this weird teenage girl dance was. Turned out it was something called the “girlfriend challenge”. Since then, these and other videos with a TikTok logo in their upper corner had popped up here and there again, and eventually I was curious enough to have a look and download the app. Sometimes it’s good to look beyond my technology bubble and see what else is new on on the web.
I hardly download any new apps and if so, they are mostly some sort of utility app. Interestingly enough, with TikTok it’s possible to use the app, or rather watch unlimited video clips, without the need to create an account and you’re also not being nagged every other minute to sign up for a “better experience” or so they say oftentimes. That’s actually quite cool and somehow feels a little like it used to be back in the days.
I started using the app and in the beginning there was a lot of lip-sync videos, teenage prank stuff and probably more lip-sync stuff going on, but in between were a few fun and interesting videos.
After my first few days of TikTokking during which I checked once in a while and at some point, I saw more and more of the fun and interesting stuff, away from the teenage pranks and dances.
Considering the app’s origin being in China, it’s very popular all around Asia and it’s gotten pretty big in the US and elsewhere after it got mentioned in a talk show. Either way, the company behind it, ByteDance, is one of the most valuable startups in the world, valued at US$78 billion as of November 2018… I didn’t know and had never heard of them before.
I haven’t used TikTok to post things, but started to watch more frequently, and trust me, there’s some really cool stuff on there. Wether it’s people in rural China showing how they live and cook, factory workers and how they make shoes, recipes and cooking from all over the world, others driving their trucks through the mud in the country side or finding new and amazing travel destinations, this app can be quite fun in some ways.
Here’s a few video links to give you an idea what it‘s all about. The app can get a little addictive at times and you might possibly waste a few hours on it…
What’s even more fun at this time: Currently there is zero (nada, 0, niente) advertising, and mostly everything is user generated content, no ads, no campaigns. Instead, everyone wants to get their 15 minutes of fame and become famous in one way or the other, but much of it is ”real” content. Some more silly than others, but still real. That's only my personal opinion, likely other people will disagree, it’s popular and liked a lot. I find it somehow is the spirit that makes it. And that spirit is
an interesting a good one, for sure. It's also quite remarkable how many followers some people have accrued.
At the moment TikTok feels a bit like app.net used to be. Back then, we had a global "timeline" or rather "feed" for what it's called now… Which actually shows us how the perception wanted to be changed. I‘d much prefer "timeline". The chronological content of what I want to see and what I‘m interested in. Everything else is a waste of my time.
A few brands have realised the potential and are starting to be very active, but for now, it somehow reminds me of the good old times when the web, and places like Twitter, were more or maybe rather different fun. The way people are having fun on TikTok is unusual and of most of the comments I’ve seen so far, the majority are “nice”. Opinions yes, but nothing nasty – at least for what I’ve seen.
What I find most amazing about this app is that it allows its users to get a glimpse into the lives of people all over the world, wether in big cities or the most remote corners of the world. That can be quite a thing, because this is the stuff that we never see or hear about. It’s bringing the world together in a new way and I think that’s a huge opportunity. Unfortunately this opportunity will probably soon be sold to greed and advertising in the not so far future…
Until then, I’d recommend to have a look and check it out. Get a glimpse into the world which lies out there and experience the web in a somewhat way as it used to be… Sharing experiences—without the ads we never asked for.