‘’TikTok saved my life.’’: how does TikTok influence pop culture and its followers.

An app that has grown exponentially over the last few years, TikTok has become a powerhouse of social media platforms. With a fanbase that spans across many generations, its effect on much of today’s culture is prevalent through causing trends that influence many. Many of TikToks trends feature a small chunk of music that loops in synch with the video that has been created. its an app that some think is dangerous and that some find fascinating. without denial the app has an algorithm that tailors the experience to the user, although not without mystery.

Who is ByteDance and what is their audience?

Data suggests TikTok as a company have generated an estimated $1.9 million dollar revenue as its time as the trendy social media platform it has become. the company was launched in September 2016 in Beijing China by its parent company ByteDance and became quite popular after ByteDance acquired another popular video-sharing platform named Musical.ly. this style of platform, allows users to create and post videos about 15 to 20 seconds each. Over the world fourteen countries and over 1 million users are on the app the age demographic is relatively young with 62% of the audience between the ages of 10-29. Much of TikTok’s content Is shared on other social media sites, this spreads the content and the influence it has to a much wider audience than just the TikTok crowd, this cross-platform influence gives the app more power and means that whatever social media platform you use, you have probably seen a TikTok video. Anything can be posted to TikTok, from ‘prank videos’ to ‘challenges’ TikTok trends are usually caused by a popular video that started it all.


Music in Tik Tok and how it is used?

Music in Tik Tok is added through the post button. From here users have an option of a 3 minute, 1 minute or 15 second video, after creating tbe video, the user can edit the video in this screen you can see options to add music and from here you are able to add music from a plethora of options including the ability to look at the top 50 songs people are using on the app.


Old Town Road, Red dead redemption and TikTok

TikTok have created a viral streaming platform that has expanded the fanbase of many songs, boosting them in popularity. Trends are influenced through certain topics becoming popular, in October 2018, a much anticipated game named Red Dead Redemption was released, as a game that had hype and fame years before it was eventually released, terms such as ‘cowboy’ and ‘yeehaw’ were becoming more prevalent in internet culture and memes, with the rise in popularity for both this new game and the memes surrounding it as well as the rising popularity of TikTok, a new platform that embraces meme culture, this allowed a lot of the games soundtrack, that was loosely based around country music, to become popular. Old Town roads release was no different, the original video found on YouTube featured gameplay of the new game, as well as the original song, not featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. As hip-hop/rap are two of the most listened to genres in 2018 it is no doubt that the blend of country/memes/hip-hop did well for Lil Nas X. judging by this, we can see that anything outside of TikTok can influence the ways in which trends occur, or any trend on the internet.

For journalists trying to figure out how to thrive in the algorithmic maze that is TikTok, the platform is still being learnt from in an attempt to tell their stories to a younger and broader audience. I spoke to Gavin Allen, a digital journalism lecturer from Cardiff university who is trying to teach his students the power of social media and the ways in which you can use it to further your platform.

Gavin Allen a believes that ‘’trends are set by early adopters’’ someone must do something to ignite a trend that multiple others will then copy. As the early adopter creates a trend and gets the exposure from it they move on. Setting the president for the content of the app in question.

‘’Tiktok requires you to have an early adopter mindset weather in taking a video or talking. I know how big the app has gotten now, but over the last 2 to 3 years it’s been growing and has probably got a lot more of a mainstream awareness. Young people are always using it, some people will be on it, I’m 43 and I’m on it, more for research purposes. My parents wouldn’t have a clue what to do when it comes to it’’


Early adopters

Early adoption works like this: a new platform is created, someone who has downloaded this platform creates content for its presumably small audience. This will then become popular with a small niche, as a platform grows and people are copying the work of the early adopter, an early adopter would have moved onto a new thing to create, forming more trends. Early adopters are the trailblazers for the type of content that will be displayed on a platform. Examples of this would be the fanbase of TikTok, a lot of fans from TikTok came from musical.ly, another platform of a similar style. This platform featured lip synching and dancing videos much like TikTok. Those who where big on musical.ly moved to TikTok, meaning that the early adopters where good at what they were already creating, causing the early adoption stage to be filled with mostly style of content.

Memes have become the internets way of making viral jokes popular, as a platform that thrives off of jokes and memes, TikTok is light hearted and content that would be posted as a serious video to YouTube, would not work on TikTok. Things that are usually ‘’lower res’’ work better for the comedy side of TikTok. Content that goes viral on TikTok is usually that of a jokey nature and can be used in multiple different contexts. News journalism sites have attempted to recreate this to try appeal to a younger audience, the guardian have done this well and have created a good ‘’basis for other journalists to follow.’’

‘’I talk to my new students about it on our course in Cardiff. I say to them it’s good to use tiktok because it gets to a different audience, a younger audience, but you can’t really tell them the news that way. so, what you’re doing is you’re looking to create a video that gives you an idea around the story, like can you make a video but, in some way, get to the elements of an experience or some problem that you’ve had, like in Covid, and the content should be jokey.’’


So in order to become successful within the confines of TikTok, you must appeal to a young audience, the content must not be too serious and it the trend you are trying to create must remain easy to replicate. In light of this, media groups would have to adopt an influencers mindset to grow their market. 

”A lot of the market is between 12 and 20. But those are the consumers of tomorrow. So if you’re a news brand, a newspaper or TV show. If you get yourself on TikTok now and those young audience members grow up. They’ll kind of take you with them As they grow up. News organisations in newspapers have to think about doing the right thing on TikTok Which is using the app and what it does In a way that the audience want to use it. If someone wanted to record a straight news bulletin on TikTok I’m not sure the audience want to go for that. If you look at what the guy at the Washington Post does, for instance, What he’s doing is fun videos, silly videos. He’s trying to get you not to watch news content. He’s trying to engage the audience, As much as having fun. So the audience is like ‘’oh Washington Post there quite funny’’ what he’s done there as he’s just sold the brand to an audience who didn’t know who it was. TikTok is kind of like a background branding exercise. Almost like a way of advertising.”


Trends are influenced in TikTok by a particularly young audience, some that fall into the 10–29-year-old category. The trends and music that come from TikTok are catchy, punchy and can be repeated by its audience to create a viral trend. In this sense, TikTok itself is a trend, as Gavin mentioned. As the audience grows older the platform will change and younger audiences will find another platform to express themselves on. The music that is bred from TikTok are the same, a certain section of the song will be heard constantly through the for you page if the user has been following this form of content. The only way one would be able to fully understand how something trends on a creator level, is if you have adopted a early adopter mindset, and you intend to create content for a platform. is TikTok itself a trend that will pass? eventually the platforms users will move on to another, more popular platform that is more relevant to them like musical.ly. Trends change with the times, what is popular now will have morphed and become a different trend in 3 years time



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