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What is TikTok? And How it Became a Popular Platform of Social Media?

Lately, a booming application, Tiktok, hosts a variety of short-form videos from genres like pranks, stunts, tricks, jokes, dance and entertainment with durations from 15 secs. to 3 mins, has become a popular application and an integral part of people’s lifestyles. And it has created a trend and a phenomenon all over the world, including in Thailand. Today, TikTok is not only a platform that encourages creators to entertain and be laughter for viewers, but TikTok is also a source of a wide variety of content that has inspired and benefited the communities, until it becomes a phenomenon that we will delve into. Why is TikTok known as a platform that has been successful all over the world including Thailand in such a short time?

The usage of TikTok in Thailand is growing in terms of both the number of users and the time spent on the platform. Data from App Annie, comparing usage between January 2021 and 2020, found that in Thailand, app downloads TikTok has increased 44%, individual user usage has increased 71%, while individual usage has increased 47%. According to consumer’s opinion poll with Kantar, 83% of users view TikTok as a trendsetters platform, while 82% say TikTok helps them to feel good and generates positive thoughts, and sometimes inspire them. Several users feel like they can be themselves, show their talents and lifestyle, which could be a contributing factor to its popularity. Furthermore TikTok is unique and different, a common theme throughout this data is positivity. Users enjoy their time on TikTok, they’re enjoyed by the content they find, and they feel safe expressing themselves with their own content, also the research finds out that users feel like they can go on TikTok and see content they can’t get anywhere else. While the same content has been shared across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter- TikTok stands apart as a place to discover something new and bring joy. The content category in Tiktok is plenty, but it started becoming popular from dancing and lip-synching. This is the main reason why several songs became popular and gained 10+ million views in the short period of time, it also brings back and recalls old songs back to top trends again. Then those other types like prank, jokes, tricks or stunts came after but mostly still using those famous songs along with their video, to make their video go viral easily. For this reason, the secret of making the video go viral easily or gain views is to use trendy songs as your audio with a related hashtag.

Why are People so Addicted to TikTok app?

Currently, the app has more than 1.5 billion users and you can find dentists, cops, teachers, parents, and even grandparents on the platform. People nowadays after our world face a pandemic of Covid-19, it changes people’s lifestyle forever. When a group of people with any careers have to work from home or even do a quarantine for 14 days, they have more free time and when they get bored, TikTok is the app that entertains them. The secret of why people are so addicted to TikTok, until they can’t take their eyes off it, is because of the application’s algorithm. TikTok’s algorithm uses a dynamic algorithm to understand the likes and dislikes of the users. It tracks content information based on the user’s engagement with certain types of videos, when you like, share, or save the videos. Hence, it evaluates every video uploaded and defines the probability that the users will enjoy it by using classification information. Then when the users interact with a specific genre of videos, they will see those genre videos come up for them more often and it will be in the page called “For You”, it coincides with you using habits. If you are still wondering how they know your interest, they know it by the videos you have shared or watched in full, accounts you follow, and hashtags you interact with. This data allows the algorithm to reflect the user’s interest, by catering a “For you” page individually, and in turn make the users stay on the app longer and become addicted to it. Even the page of “For You” generates a personal link between the user and the app. This concept is different from the “Explore” page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These platforms still use an algorithm for personalized content, but they lack the emotional connection that the term “For You” offers to users. Another aspect of TikTok that makes it addictive is the creative content videos. Besides, the algorithm is worthless without interesting videos for users to watch. TikTok is an app that anyone can get famous on, whether you’re not an influencer or celebrity, you can be a student or working person, anyone can have their own account for free and use Tiktok to enjoy the interesting and inspiring videos and start doing your own video content.

Not only anyone can be a video creator but also the icons in the application are designed for smoothness. Such as those like, comment, share, and profile buttons, these four icons are stacked on top of each other, and all located on the right side between the center and the bottom of the screen, which is presumably the majority of people that they assume that the users are right handed and would use their thumb to scroll the screen. This placement makes it accessible for TikTok’s users to click those icons while enjoying watching the videos while saving microseconds of their time. I believe that TikTok’s layout is not arbitrary and does play a key role in boosting its popularity. The application’s icon placement makes the user experiences more addicting, enjoyable, and accessible. Comparing this to Twitter, where the like, comment, retweets, and share icons are lined up horizontally under each post. It seems like it is an insignificant detail, but it is a crucial component to TikTok’s layout. However, another outstanding and helpful aspect to this layout comes when you click the comment button. The users can scroll through comments while the video still plays, including with sound, and a quarter of the screen. Unlike the other social media and video sharing apps, such as Instagram and Facebook, the users can not simultaneously watch the picture or video while commenting on a post. This aspect could be inconvenient for the users, but TikTok is able to add convenience to this decision.

Even though TikTok’s users cannot see the video on the entire screen, the user still feels a sense of comfort knowing that they did not abandon a video to scroll through comments. This is a benefit that other social media apps simply do not have. Furthermore the layout of the other social media apps, the captions and the profiles are separated from the photo which makes unnecessary seconds of scrolling time, which could have been used for watching interesting content, reading comments, and sharing to your friends. Meanwhile TikTok’s layout is designed perfectly, both the captions and the profiles are embedded into the video screen, which makes the entire screen space to be filled with the video: main source of the entertainment. This results in videos being stacked on top of each other, which leads the users to scroll immediately to the next video, without even a second to think “Have I been watching this for too long?” or “Should I stop watching and do some work?” Instead, TikTok smartly removes any distractions from the content, and eventually the homework that you simply should be doing never gets done.

In the past few years TikTok is already huge and its user base spends a lot of time on the platform, even more than Netflix or Youtube. Therefore it is undoubtedly that people’s lifestyles nowadays are changing according to what they consume from those viral media. There are several aspects and features that make the TikTok app addicting. People tend to ignore and do not notice the layout. TikTok’s design is so subtle and it is a contribution to its popularity. Other platforms such as Instagram recently tried to emulate the aspects of the app by adding a feature called “Instagram Reels”, which has a similar appearance and the design and the features are nearly the same. This can be considered as an impact of the TikTok’s phenomenon that inspired the concept of this creative content that allows everyone to choose trending audios and film themselves to create an amusing video. As we can see after this booming age of TikTok comes, many other platforms are now or soon to emulate their layout off of TikTok as well. For this reason, it makes the TikTok platform and Instagram Reel connect seamlessly. Since, some of the users’ accounts were banned from TikTok for accidentally creating against the restriction video, so they somehow get banned for a while. During that period a lot of people have saved their video or content and instead post it on the Instagram Reel, since right now these both platforms have very similar aspects and features which can be a substitute for each other. 



SaschaSaschaMarch 19, 2022

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