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TikTok: The Next Instagram for Video or China's Invasion of Social Media?

The phrase "Ticktock, ticktock" is repeated over and over in the second installment of "The Hunger Games" trilogy by a woman who has figured out that all of the game challenges are centered around a clock, and that every three hours, another sector of the Hunger Games theater will face a life-threatening storm of some kind. Finally, the amazing Katniss Everdeen figures out what the woman is saying and how they can get in front of the danger. "Ticktock, ticktock." This appears to me to be an omen, foretelling the recent ascent of a new app called TikTok.

Enter the latest app to reach the 1-billion-users mark: TikTok. What is it? Where is it headed? And do you need to pay attention to it?

TikTok hosts users in a similar fashion to Instagram, but instead of uploading fabulous content or images, people upload videos (generally ranging from 10 to 60 seconds). Users then scroll through these videos, which I assume are selected for them based on algorithms of videos to which they have favorably responded. The video creators are strangers to the viewers, rapidly transporting them into the privacy of their habitats, their thoughts, and their actions. What struck me after I set up my account is the shocking number of followers these very ordinary people are amassing (in the millions!), and what time-wasting content is being uploaded.

Users are generally on the younger side - teens, to be specific - but let's face it; that was the initial audience for other social media platforms as well, so time will tell. (According to Global Web Index, 41% of TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years old. In China, 75% of users are between 18 and 35 years old.) Here is the game changer: TikTok is the first Chinese-developed app to garner mind-boggling statistics. Yep, it was produced by China, the country that seems to be inching its way into our lives and culture in new - and, in this case, frightening - ways. There is much data to be collected from those who are using this app, and the Chinese government will own every bit of it. With all the trouble we are having at the moment in keeping Facebook semi-honest, can you imagine how little leverage we will have with China?

Put these stats in your pot-pipe, and smoke it: TikTok surpassed Facebook, Instagram, You Tube, and Snapchat in terms of monthly installs, and it was downloaded more than 1 billion times in 2018, according to Vox. Of course, it has fewer users than Facebook, but it has more than Twitter and Snapchat. It has 26 million users in the United States alone, and that number is growing by the day.

Here are some examples of what's on TikTok and what you are missing if you're not one of its 1 billion active users.

Short video... on what they say when they fire you...

Then there is the dog/bear type of post. Where there are dogs/animals, there is response.

Making fun of that which embarrasses us.

So now you know. Questions? Give us a holler.

-Christine Merser, Managing Partner, Blue Shoe Strategy

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