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What is a TikTok Video and Why Should I Care? | EMQQ

TikTok is a free social media app that lets you watch, create, and share 15-60 second videos often to a soundtrack of the top hits in music right from your phone. The resulting video is displayed in a phone screen type of rectangle, not the typical square shape. Musical.ly, a social network initially built around lip-syncing and dancing and adopted by teens was rebranded to TikTok when the two apps merged in August 2018. The younger generation of smartphone users is telling us that this new platform is the future of social media [1]. 

TikTok is more than just the next generation social media app. Its parent company, ByteDance privately owned and recently valued at more than $75 billion, bills itself first as an artificial intelligence company, not a creator of mission-driven social platforms [2]. 

"ByteDance’s content platforms enable people to enjoy content powered by AI technology," its website says. Its vision is “to build global creation and interaction platforms.” ByteDance’s wildly popular Chinese news and entertainment portal, Jinri Toutiao (translated as “Today’s Headlines,”) relies heavily on AI. They do not rely on human editors, or a self-selected feed of accounts to curate and create customized streams of largely user-and-partner-generated content tailored to each of its readers [3]. 

These are services where a sort of “filter” bubble isolating users into worlds of Points of View (POV) or Challenges, isn’t an unintended consequence. It’s the point. And it’s extremely effective: Both Toutiao and Douyin (TikTok in China) have drawn attention from Chinese regulators for, among many other things, for capturing too much user time. As a result, TikTok’s “Digital Wellbeing” settings include an option to enforce a password-protected time limit [4]. 

It’s doing the thing that Twitter tried to solve, that everyone tried to solve. How do you get people to engage with social media? Apparently, you just, wait for it… show them things, and let a powerful artificial intelligence take notes. You start sending daily notifications immediately. You tell them what to do. You fake it till you make it, algorithmically speaking, which is perfect for Millennials and Gen Z.

TikTok does away with many of the assumptions other social platforms have been built upon, and which they are in the process of discarding. It questions the primacy of individual connections and friend networks. It unapologetically embraces AI control rather than pretending it doesn’t have it. TikTok’s real influence going forward may be that the other social media platforms decide that our friends are only part of the experience.

SummaryThe result of the enhanced AI is a user that is much more engaged and has a brand loyalty that is almost cult-like, just try taking an Android or iPhone away from a 14-year-old teen with a TikTok account.  Bytedance is just starting to figure out ways to monetize the platform, similar to the way Snap and Instagram did to those platforms during there initial ramp-ups when they were the latest thing in social media. While we expect ByteDance to go public someday, its products are changing how people use social media and that is affecting Internet usage and Ecommerce. The leading global internet technology heavyweights Google, Facebook, Alibaba, and Tencent (GFAT) have all taken notice. Even though the short video may be the theme of the day, GFAT believes users will stick with what they perceive as high-quality, must-have content over the long-term. Plus they haven't been able to buy their way in, ByteDance's latest round of funding of $3 billion was at a valuation of $78 billion dollars; putting it in an exclusive group of previous unicorns like Uber ($68B) and Ant Financial ($150B) [5].

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Article Date: 24th March 2020

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