I’m old. Like half a century old.
In the US right now, the 18-24 year demographic accounts for 42% of its users. A further 27% make up the next biggest demographic, 13-17 year olds.
Clearly, a Gen Xer like me has no business on the platform.
Or do I??!?
TIkTok came roaring out of the starting gate last year, being the only one of the top 5 most downloaded apps of the year not owned by Facebook (the other four were FB, Insta, Whats App and FB messenger). TikTok, in 2020, has 800Million active monthly users worldwide, making it the 6th most popular social network in the world. (source: Hootsuite)
I joined TikTok a few years back when my teen was experimenting with it. I wanted to see what all the rumpus was about. I ended up deleting the app not long after. I just didn’t get it. Fast forward to late last year. I had been hearing so much buzz about it, and I felt an obligation to my students to be as well informed as I could be, so I could talk to them about it.
This time, I was hooked. When you open the app, it starts playing automatically, and it pulls you in. You then just swipe up to get to the next one.
There are a lot of things I like about TikTok:
- The algorithm isn’t BS. The algorithm actually seems to be pretty smart and knows what it’s doing. It is pretty effective at finding me content I’m going to like. Sometimes I have to tell it not to show me videos like the one that comes up, but for the most part, it shows me things I like. The algorithm is based on geography, so it also shows me some local content, as well.
- It doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a lot of people having fun on TikTok. It’s not all unapproachable perfect selfies taken on mountaintops. It’s moms and people just dealing with life in a tongue-in-cheek kinda way. It’s okay to not be perfect, in fact, it’s encouraged here.
- There are serious conversations about mental health. You’ll see a ton of content here about addiction, being gay, being Trans, having depression and anxiety… and it’s all okay. It’s all good. It’s a safe space.
- The tool is pretty effing awesome. The tool to create the actual video is pretty great. It gives you loads of options, tons of filters, the ability to cut, splice together, do special effects, sync video with music. The other thing I love about it is how easy it is to share your videos on literally any other social network.
- The ability to go viral still is real here. Okay, so. Um. I went viral on TikTok.
Let’s just compare this to Instagram for a sec, shall we? I get less and less love on Instagram all the time, and it becomes a vicious cycle. I used to love Instagram because people saw my content. My friends interacted with my content. But hardly at all any more outside of stories. My feed posts languish, unloved. This is mainly in part to Instagram’s algorithm, which makes me feel like I’m being strangled. Also, I’ve been complaining for years that I dislike the perfection and the high standards I feel like you need to uphold to get anywhere on Instagram. I’m just not into posting sexy selfies all the time. Sorry, it’s not me.
TikTok is the island of misfit toys, and I’m one of them.
I’m still really really learning about the platform and how it works, but I do have a bit of advice for you. TikTok really runs on memes–thousands of people doing the same dances, the same lipsyncs. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s super fun. But try to add your own spin to it. Try to do something a bit different, add your personality and flair. That’s the thing that people are going to be interested in.
Think you’re too old for TikTok? I beg to differ.
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