TikTok: Teens and Trends Takeover
Nov 6, 2020
Short, snappy, sensational.
Just 15 seconds to sell a story and TikTok stars have made the platform their stage. The video sharing networking app’s most successful creators are teens with millions of followers.
The Beijing based app initially launched in 2016, but made its worldwide debut in 2018 following the merger with Musical.ly. It’s known as Douyin in China, but the respective interfaces do not have access to one another.
TikTok features videos of dance, music and comedy that are three to 15 seconds long and up to a minute for looping reels. Videos of silly stunts, stylish teens and singers showcasing their talent saturate the platform, easily racking up millions of streams. The reels are short, making it easy for users to be swept up in an endless scroll. Hours easily tick by when the app’s interface makes all the videos seamlessly meld together.
So what makes TikTok different?
TikTok’s appeal to Gen Z is apparent. It’s community driven—led by teens, for teens. The app’s redefined what it means to be viral. On TikTok, anyone or anything can become a star. The app’s content is vast. There’s a niche for all kinds of content, from dance choreographies to humorous skits. Take for example, the renegade dance. It was created by 14-year-old Jalaiah Harmon, recreated by others on TikTok and popularized by TikTok queen Charli D’amelio.
Its popularity with Gen Z has 16-year-old D’amelio in the lead, with over 97 million people watching. Not only has the Connecticut native performed alongside Bebe Rexha during a Jonas Brothers concert, she was featured in a Super Bowl commercial for Sabra Hummus! More recently, she and her sister Dixie (who FYI, is eighth most-followed at 42 million) launched a makeup line in collaboration with Morphe Cosmetics and a reality show is in production about the D’amelio family.
As TikTok dominates the social media stratosphere, so do the sponsorships and opportunities. Second most-followed star Addison Rae Easterling (67 million) reigned as Forbes named her the highest-earning individual on the platform. TikTok launched this 19-year-old Louisiana local into the spotlight in six short months! She started making videos in July last year, had a million followers by October’s end, and was signed to talent agency WME this past January. Easterling’s success led to partnerships with American Eagle, Reebok, Hollister and L’Oreal. Fans of miss Addison Rae can anticipate her debut on the silver screen— she was just announced to be starring in He’s All That, a remake of 1999 teen comedy She’s All That.
TikTok’s own namesake account has 48 million followers (fifth place, after illusionist filmmaker Zach King and former number one star Loren Gray) in comparison. Other top personalities are taking advantage of the growing audience, with creative collaboratives cropping up. The Hype House, Sway LA, Clubhouse are three of the most influential rosters, and these exclusive engagements help these creators establish their brand.
Its popularity with teens comes from its ease of use. Since quarantine began back in March, the app became a mainstay for Gen Z, providing a platform for movement and connecting millions during the stay-at-home orders. TikTok isn’t just limited to relatable video diaries, memes and dances. The fanbase relies on relatability, but it doesn’t end there. It’s a place for teens to find their voice. People are using TikTok to empower other youth to use their right to vote. Users spread awareness for several movements including climate change and Black Lives Matter.
Through the superficiality of clout chasing creators who drum up drama for the sake of views, TikTok has spearheaded a new movement. It’s changed the dynamic between big production companies and listeners.
Songs of yesteryear like Britney Spears’s “Criminal” saw a surge after the Mugshot Challenge blazed through TikTok. With the brawn of the fanbase being the strong online presence of teens, it’s made the app an unparalleled force in the music industry. These popular trends on TikTok sweep up waves of users into rediscovering old songs and giving rise to indie artists and disrupting the charts.
Its rapid ascension to becoming a social powerhouse is thanks to their younger demographic. TikTok is unlike any other platforms because not only is it a birthplace of trends, it’s a place for teens to assemble.
Similar predecessors like Musical.ly and Vine were popular with users, but none have shown the same kind of leverage in such a short span of time. Vine popularized short form videos and had comedians experimenting with the format. It bred talents like Shawn Mendes and Ruth B. until its shutdown and Musical.ly took over the reins on the focus on short lip-sync videos.
Then came TikTok.
Its merger with Musical.ly opened up the TikTok empire and introduced a platform that made it so users don’t need a lot of followers to gain traction. The app’s algorithm allows smaller creators to have the chance of being viewed by people who like similar content through their curated “for you” page. It broke the standards and frequently, users without a large following will rack up hundreds of thousands of views from their reels.
And that’s why TikTok is popular.
- Photo Courtesy of Hollister