Why is TikTok so popular?

Here, our marketing assistant, Ash, discusses the world’s fastest growing app, TikTok:

With over 2.6 billion downloads as of December 2020, the app had more than 1 billion monthly active users globally by the end of 2021 (Statista) making it the 7th most used social media app in the world. This number grew to 1.4 billion by the end of Q1 2022 (CNBC), so the app’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down.

The ‘for you page’

The social media platform will  give content that is unrelated to the user’s preferences in their “For You” page. This tool is meant to increase diversity by introducing users to new content creators and  categories, as well as new ideas and perspectives. This algorithm can also remember which videos you might have liked, commented or lingered on and suggests new videos based on that information.

Other platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, could be claimed to have not fully addressed the issue of content suggestion diversity. These large social media platforms’ algorithms spotlight more of the same type of information that users previously loved, trapping them in a cycle of similar content and not allowing them to explore further.

The trends

Another key reason for TikTok’s success is the prevalence of trends, such as  dance challenges for popular songs or videos with trending in-app filters. The algorithm gives preference to videos that corresponds to current internet trends and because popular trends attract greater attention, other users are more likely to join in and generate material too. This system encourages songs, challenges or filters to snowball in popularity and cultivates virality in a way other social media apps don’t.

Video sharing

The TikTok app has taken video making and sharing to the next level by simplifying it. All users have to do is record and publish anything from their regular activities. Because of the brief format, neither creating the video nor watching it takes much time or effort.

Additionally, when a user starts the app, this short-form video material is automatically played. One by one, the clips begin to play, and the spectator becomes drawn to a sea of amusing, addictive video content. The sheer volume of content means it’s not uncommon to loose track of time while watching. Coupled with the short video durations (most clips are between 10 seconds and 10 minutes long) and the constantly refreshing feed, this can quickly become addictive!

TikTok’s future

Where to next for TikTok? Despite it’s meteoric growth, TikTok will have to continue to innovate and find new ways to engage its users in order to sustain it’s current popularity.  We’re also interested to see how they attempt to court more brands to start building a presence on the App. A few brands have seen success with their videos on the platform (Duolingo and Innocent smoothies are noteable accounts) but not every business will be able to embrace the casual jokes and authentic tone of voice viewers favour on this platform.


How far has technology progressed?

Our marketing assistant Ash talks about how advanced technology is getting, and how technology has helped/affected us.

 

Thanks to technology, it is now easier to do even the simplest of daily tasks. A variety of devices and technology are available to make people’s life easier. It has also had an impact on today’s culture in areas including transport, schooling, employment and healthcare. However, because technology is evolving rapidly, we are seeing what some people think to be troubling developments for the future, particularly in employment.

Employment and robots

Technology, in the form of robots, appears to be taking over more and more. For some people this is terrifying. It has been said that robots will replace up to 20 million factory jobs by 2030, 30% of jobs will be replaced by robots even the ones that are tedious and according to the Office for National Statistics, In England 1.5 million people are at risk of losing their employment to robots. Restaurants are now using robots to allow people to order independently without having to talk to a waiter/waitress. There are also food delivery robots called ‘Starship’, which take away the need for delivery drivers.

 

Sophia, the ‘human robot’

Most robots that have been created over the years are so lifelike, which has led to many people telling the creators of these robots, to ‘shut them down’, and to ‘never bring them back’. One of these robots is named ‘Sophia’.

Many people were impressed when Sophia was first announced to the world back in 2016. Sophia was created by a Hong-Kong based company called ‘Hanson Robotics’. Being the first well-known robot to touch both our intelligence and our feelings at the same time, Sophia gained many fans and popularity. She communicates in a delicate, educated, sympathetic, expressive tone and can make many facial expressions. Unlike Ameca, another human-like robot (yes, there are two), Sophia was made to look human. She is also capable of answering basic questions and holding simple discussions. Sophia’s eyes have cameras placed in them, and she can see objects thanks to computer algorithms. The humanoid robot can track faces, maintain eye contact, and recognise individuals.

It’s no surprise that many people are concerned about how advanced technology is becoming. Many people have made conspiracies about robots, specifically Sophia the robot, saying things like “Robots will take over the world” or “Sophia will forget she’s a robot one day and run for president,” and personally, I agree with some of these statements to an extent. No, I don’t believe Sophia will run for president, but I do believe that technology will only get more intelligent and powerful. Most devices that have been designed and made, are very helpful and even life-changing, but do we really need not one but TWO lifelike robots?

Healthcare

Throughout the centuries that we have been practicing medicine, only fairly recently many revolutionary breakthroughs in healthcare technology have been achieved.

Technology solutions are assisting healthcare professionals in improving performance.  These solutions are assisting clinical staff in improving patient care, creating better experiences, and reducing stress as hospitals and health systems accept value-based health reimbursement systems. It is now routine practice to use EHR systems or other technologies when communicating with patients and developing treatment regimens. Laptops and tablets have become as widespread in healthcare settings as medical instruments, and there’s strong evidence that electronic health records (EHRs) are improving access to and sharing of health data.

Many previously unthinkable medical therapies are now possible. Patients can now obtain MRI scans, X-rays, and a variety of other medical procedures to figure out what’s wrong with them – this ability is saving and changing lives every day.

 

Education

Self-paced learning is one of many significant benefits that students have gained because of the advancement of technology in the education sector. While some people are quick learners who can adjust rapidly, others need a long time to grasp a concept. Such pupils are fortunate to have the internet as part of their education; they can now easily keep up with their peers thanks to a thorough comprehension of produced courses and an online curriculum tailored just for them.

Technology has made things a lot more enjoyable than before. Pupils are involved in a variety of learning activities that help them remember new information. There has been a vast array of educational applications since the emergence of computers, tablets, and mobile phones, allowing learners to study numerous ideas in a fun way. They can also watch live streaming videos online to better comprehend a topic, theory, or issue.

Has technology gone too far?

Finally, many individuals are conflicted about how technology is progressing. Many people feel that generation Z (my generation) would be the last to remember life before social media and technology became so widespread and advanced. Personally, I believe that some aspects of technology are beneficial, such as assisting the NHS. However, I believe that, with all this new technology being developed, things will eventually get out of hand.

Although it takes a lot of effort and patience to create an outstanding robot, like Sophia, I personally don’t understand why we need such a lifelike robot. Many robots are helpful, but when they begin to take over people’s jobs and therefore livelihood, it becomes a concern. Many people are losing their jobs to robots in places like supermarkets and restaurants. Furthermore, it could be argued that robots within the workplace can be a health and safety issue. Why? – what if something malfunctions? What will happen? Society has become reliant on technology, even for mundane tasks such as cleaning, resulting in many people being unmotivated to accomplish anything on their own.

Enjoy technology but also remember to enjoy real life too, go outside and live in the moment.


The chains and shackles of social media

Our Marketing Assistant, Ash (18), reflects on what it is like to have grown up in the social media boom, and how it has both enhanced the lives of young people and had devastating effects on their mental health.

 

As the popularity of social media grows amongst the younger generation, it is no wonder why teenagers have become more and more insecure. According to the most recent social media statics, there were 3.78 billion social media users nationwide in 2021, many of which are impressionable teens. Most of our previous offline social interactions have been replaced using social media. Even when we’re out with friends, we feel tempted to check social media on a regular basis.

 

Furthermore, many children between the ages of 5-10 are being given electronic devices, such as smartphones, forgoing traditional play and outside activities. As a result, more children are installing apps with a 13+ age limit (such as TikTok) and are exposed to different ranges of content. Lots of the content on these apps may be potentially harmful and/or rated 18+. This could lead to children being influenced to do things that are harmful to themselves and others.  They might participate in harmful pranks, post embarrassing content, or cyberbully others without understanding the gravity of what they are doing.

Mental health

Many young teens have low sense of self-worth or a negative body image to start with, but seeing idealised, unattainable body types plastered over their social feed is surely only going to make this worse. Even if you’re aware that the pictures you’re seeing on social media have been modified, they can still make you feel insecure about your appearance.

When teenagers and young adults see influencers/celebrities that they admire and look up to, they tend to imitate some of their habits, fashion trends, and other aspects of their personalities. While this may not seem to be a bad thing, some teenagers and young adults lose sight of who they are and are unable to develop their own opinions and personas. Most celebrities/influencers (such as Kim Kardashian) edit their pictures before sharing them online – many teenagers may start mistaking fake for reality.

Moreover, to be mentally healthy, people require face-to-face contact. You’re more likely to develop mood disorders like anxiety and depression if you prioritise social media over in-person relationships. Multiple studies have said that heavy social media usage can increase risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal behaviour. Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among children under the age of 14.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is not a new topic, but the growth of social media has pushed it to greater levels. A few statistics from StopBullying.gov show:

Up to 43% of teenagers have been bullied online. At school and online, nine out of ten LGBTQ+ students have been harassed, 58% of teens haven’t told their parents or an adult about something hurtful or mean they encountered online, around 10% of teenagers say they’ve been bullied on social media, and many others have experienced vile comments. Instagram and other social media platforms can be major sources for spreading damaging rumours, lies, and abuse that can lead to bigger and scarier issues (for example stalking).

 

Raising awareness

However, we can’t forget that social media has also been used to raise awareness on important topics.

The #metoo movement, #Lovewins, and #BLM have all benefited from the use of social media. Many people have come forward to talk about their prejudice experiences. Social media has become a main outlet for people’s facts and information.

 

#BLM; The Black Lives Matter movement began as an online community dedicated to combating anti-black racism and police violence against African Americans in particular. The online community was able to organise, mobilise, and raise its visibility using the hashtag and social media platforms, eventually growing into a group with over 40 chapters working to support black lives. Using social media and tools like hashtags, promoted information, raised awareness, and gave the BLM community a place to form and organise online.

 

 #Metoo; The ‘Me Too’ movement started in 2006 but gained traction in 2017 when a few high-profile actresses spoke out about their sexual harassment experiences in the film industry online and used the hashtag #MeToo to do so. The topic’s popularity sparked a greater awareness of the ‘Me Too’ movement, sexual harassment, and assault with the hopes of reducing tolerance for abusive behaviour and increasing support for victims.

 

#Lovewins; Many people across many platforms applauded the Supreme Court’s decision in 2015 to legalise marriage between same-sex couples. With the courthouse victory, the HRC’s #LoveWins movement was pushed into full swing on social media, encouraging people to share thoughts and pictures in celebration of the victory by using the #LoveWins hashtag. Now there are profiles on all social media platforms, promoting LGBT+ rights.

Social media as a job

Social media has helped many people when it comes to careers. Influencers, such as Nikkie Tutorials, use YouTube and other social media platforms, as a source of income. Nikkie Tutorials is a Dutch makeup artist and beauty YouTuber. Her YouTube video “The Power of Makeup” went viral in 2015, which lead to dozens of new similar videos of people showing off their faces with and without makeup, she now has 13.9 million YouTube subscribers and uses her platform to promote make-up positivity. She also went on to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021 and collaborate with big artists including Adele. Nikkie came out as transgender in her ‘I’m coming out’ video back January 2020  and has since encouraged many individuals (young and old) to be themselves. She made appearances on ‘The Ellen Show’ to discuss her experiences before and after coming out as transgender.

TikTok (formerly known as Musical.ly) has grown in popularity. Many lives have been changed as a result of it, and many people have achieved long-held goals. Many TikTok stars (such as Vinnie Hacker) have been able to showcase their talents and have gone on to perform music, appear in films, model, and create YouTube videos, among other things.

Final thoughts


I am 18, and my experience with social media has been both positive and negative. I’ve experienced cyberbullying, I’ve seen disturbing videos that have been posted and shared across social media, I’ve seen my own friends and family compare themselves to other people, I’ve come across people who faked their true identity but I will admit, I have also met so many kind hearted people (who are now my close friends) through social media.

Yes, sometimes social media can be a source of joy when I am struggling mentally, it can make many people feel less alone (myself included), but you just need to be aware of the potential dangers. Sometimes I feel empowered by the things I see on social media, but most of the time, I tear myself down whenever I see the beauty standards of today.


Overall, we can’t stop social media from continuing to grow, whether we like it or not. Everything has a positive and negative side, and we can all agree that technology and social media have both. My advice is to use social media for entertainment purposes only, instead of allowing it to consume your life, remember that most things you see and read aren’t always true, find out for yourself using reliable sources rather than just TikTok. I understand that some people’s careers are on social media and technology can change people’s lives for the better, but even so, most influencers have stated that they gradually lost interest in making videos because of how toxic social media has become and they started seeing it as a chore rather than something they like, take Jenna Marbles, a former YouTuber (that most people know and love) as an example. Encourage the next generation to go outside and spend time with their friends and family, use social media to spread positivity, stay safe and use it to your advantage, don’t abuse it.