Mobile app TikTok (formerly known as Musical.ly) has captured the imagination of millions of people over the past few years. The social media platform has obviously grown quite popular, especially with users between the ages of 16 and 24.
So, what exactly is TikTok, and how is it different from other social media platforms? Don’t apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat work just as well? Well, yes and no. TikTok is unique in that it builds on the ideas and concepts of its peers.
Rather than saying TikTok is different from other social media platforms, we should be asking how it combines the best aspects of its competitors into one experience. Here’s a list that highlights these choices.
Unlike Twitter (where text, emojis, and hashtags take center stage) or Instagram (where visual content reigns, but videos are optional), TikTok is all about sound and movement. In this way, TikTok is almost in league with platforms such as YouTube. The most significant difference is that videos are limited to three minutes or less.
This is a tall order, especially considering the toxic tendencies that can spring from online forums. Other platforms seem to breed negativity and low self-esteem. To uphold and enforce their policies TikTok has implemented various safeguards to combat these elements, including content moderators and age restrictions.
While these topics are largely unavoidable and can still be found on TikTok by those who seek it, TikTok emphasizes the fun and simple things of life. It’s a space for big brands and small creators alike to come together and show their light-hearted side.
While social connections can still be pursued and formed on TikTok, it’s not the driving force behind the platform as it is with so many of its peers. The idea is to put a bunch of content in front of the user, then the algorithm tailors their “feed” as they interact with their favorite videos and creators. In other words, instead of constantly seeing videos from the same people, the feed is designed to produce an endless supply of algorithmically-generated content based on the user's interests. The resulting infinite-scroll feed is more visually engaging than Twitter, but quicker and easier to digest than the long-form videos common on YouTube.
That’s TikTok in a nutshell. It’s fresh and exciting, but it borrows ideas from the social platforms we already know and love. It’s the best of all worlds boiled down into a single space. No wonder this app has captured the attention of such a large audience!
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