TikTok is a short-form video sharing social media site that gained substantial popularity in 2019 (it was the second most downloaded social media app (application) that year).
The originating company Douyin (under which the site continues to trade in China) was founded in 2012. It was not until 2017 it launched an app for international use outside of China. The company is based in Beijing however, its international servers are located within the countries where the app is available for download. This international element was originally a music based site known as Musical.ly. In effect the two subsequently merged to become TikTok. Lip sync or lip synch (lip synchronisation) the ‘technical term for matching a speaking or singing person’s lip movements with prerecorded sung or spoken vocals …’ (Wikipedia) was and remains an essential component.
TikTok’s mission statement: ‘TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.’
The app is primarily designed for mobile phone usage. However, for those who want to access it via a computer there is an option to do so by first downloading a software package known as Bluestacks (originally designed to enable mobile games to be played on a computer).
As stated, the intent is to provide a means for users to watch and share short-form videos of between 3 to 15 seconds and short looping videos of between 3 to 60 seconds (60 when segments are strung together). From within the app users are able to create and upload videos of themselves, alone or with others, doing whatever they wish. A variety of enhancement facilities are also available: music (the app incorporates Apple music); filters; animation; time effects; split screens; transitions; stickers; emoji; GIFs; and more. Naturally there is also an edit facility. It is indeed quite versatile. Users may also live stream. Account holders may also upload their own videos (may be in excess of the 60 second rule applicable to videos made from within the app).
Anyone who has no wish to create or upload their own may freely watch videos without having to create an account. They simply have to access the site through a browser and then click on whichever video(s) they would like to view. A ‘Watch now’ button automatically appears in the top right corner of the screen from which trending videos may be accessed. All users, and visitors, also have the facility to freely download and share any video.
Videos may be public or private. Accounts may be set to: public; friends only; or private. Where an account holder chooses private they need to be aware, despite the setting, TikTok will always have access to the content. Beyond that only those the user has authorised may view a video. As with most social media sites, viewers may: follow; like; and comment, making this a fully versatile site.
Users should be aware the company uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse their interests, preferences, and interactions upon which it bases recommendations for further viewing or accounts to follow. Naturally, displayed adverts are also based upon the same information (adverts provide TikTok with considerable income).
Before signing up for an account, people need to be aware there have been some security concerns regarding use of information. In some ways these are similar to those recently expressed in respect of Huwaei. The Chinese based site Douyin is obliged, by Chinese law, to share details with the Chinese government. However, because TikTok is principally based within each of the countries it operates in, it states there is no such obligation with regard to international users. Nevertheless, it must remain a concern. In addition the company has faced occasional censorship for such things as cultural degradation; explicit content; and violation of children’s privacy. Some of these have been dealt with but in the United States of America (USA) the government has launched a national security review. There has also been a suggestion the app/site may not be safe when personal information is kept within the device being used.
- TikTok is the sixth largest social networking site.
- The app is available in 154 countries.
- There have been in excess of 1.65 billion downloads of the app.
- There are 800 million active monthly users.
- Worldwide, half of users are under 34.
- A majority, estimated at 60%, of users are between 16 to 24.
- Unlike many sites, 56% of users are male.
These are just some of the figures available.
Note: This information has been gleaned from various sources and the writer is not able to guarantee accuracy though there is no reason to think it too far from the truth.
A consistent piece of advice to all authors, is to identify their ideal reader/target audience. If anything that is probably even more relevant when it comes to sites such as TikTok.
Before proceeding there are some points authors should consider:
- The primary user group comprises 16 to 24 year olds.
- Whether they are familiar with, and able to create relevant, short-form videos (3-15 seconds).
- Short-form entertainment and humour (or what passes for such) is a primary aim.
Before making a decision it is suggested authors access the site and watch a few of the trending videos to gain a feel for what the majority of TikTok’s users enjoy.
Authors who write in the YA (Young Adult) genre may well consider the site a suitable outlet for their books. However, those who write in a more mature genre will need to seriously consider whether the site would be beneficial for them.
Of course there is no reason why all authors should not utilise the site for publicising themselves with entertaining short videos. By joining in they may be able to build a following and develop some relationships that will ultimately provide opportunities for sharing about their books. Naturally, this will not appeal to any of a shy and/or introverted disposition.
TikTok can provide entertainment and lighthearted distraction for those pressured moments. However, its suitability for authors has to be considered limited. In view of the primary age group, YA authors may find it useful but others will need to seriously consider whether to trouble themselves with the site.
For those who wish to know more:
Disclaimer: Neither T. R. Robinson Publications or T. R. Robinson have an affiliation to or with either of the sites mentioned. Nor do either receive any remuneration for referring to them.