Apps like Vine and Musical.ly walked so TikTok could run, and now with over a billion users from across the world, TikTok has become a growing world phenomenon. It only takes 15 seconds for a single video to change and influence the way people listen to music, watch shows and consume media. We got a chance to sit down with a few University of Arizona student TikTokers and gained insight into how TikTok has impacted their lives.
Sterling Stokes, a UA 2021 psychology alumna, is a TikToker and spoke about how TikTok has impacted her life.
"Being a TikToker has improved my life for the better. It's been a fun platform to make things for a community. It's inspirational and exciting when other people resonate/relate with my content," Stokes said.
According to The New York Times, TikTok had originated from another popular short video format app called Vine. Like TikTok, Vine also had hashtags and a community tab where people could find other videos and browse through the app. Vine had 6-second videos that people could upload to the app and provided an array of different content made available to watch on Vine. However, Vine was only accessible online for four years, from early January of 2013 when the app first launched to January of 2017 when the app was shut down.
Around the same time that Vine was up and running, another app made its way into the short video format scene called Musical.ly, which launched in 2014. According to Music Business Worldwide, Musical.ly was a music and dance-centered app that mostly had lip-syncing and dance videos that frequently went viral. Content creators could promote and boost different songs' popularity from this app by doing a short video dance clip of themselves. However, by the end of 2017, Musical.ly merged with another app developer called ByteDance. From this merge, TikTok was born.
According to NBC, since the launch of TikTok, there has been a major impact on businesses and how brands would promote their products and services. Some record companies and labels would hire TikTok digital influencers to be able to help promote new songs in different dance challenges and videos on the platform. This is down in hopes that the video would go viral making the song a hit.
Lee Parada, a psychology senior, is a TikToker and spoke about how TikTok has influenced their taste in music.
"I think almost all of my music that I listen to is from TikTok realistically because you hear 10 seconds of a song over and over and that's enough to make you want to listen to it. So, I think all my playlists right now are mostly music from TikTok," Parada said.
According to Forbes, this is not only a trend that's happening just for music promotion. This has occurred for other products, such as makeup, electronics, crystals, etc. This has impacted the way products and services are advertised through social media and influenced people to buy products shown on TikTok Influencer pages.
Braelyn Smith, a UA 2016 fine arts alumna, is a TikToker and spoke about how brand advertisements have affected TikTok.
"Over the years Tiktok has become more commercial in my mind, with brands and ads being on there now. I also think it is a bit more polished than it was at one time, but I still think at its core it's a place for people to be authentic and raw. And I love that," Smith said.
According to Forbes, TikTok is breaking down cross-generational boundaries that were often not pushed with other social media platforms and is helping to bring more communities of people closer together than ever before. For other social media platforms such as Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram, the demographics of the users and the target audience were often geared toward a younger crowd of people. They often struggled to help bridge the gap between the span of multiple generations.
Zaina Price, an East Asian studies major, is a TikToker and spoke about how TikTok is helping to mend the gap between generations.
"Everybody is on this app. It's blended lines generationally, like my grandmother, mom, dad and sister. These are all different generations: boomer generation, millennials, Gen Z," Price said. "I think it's like really blended the line looks at generationally and that's something that was not really seen before. Instagram didn't do that, Twitter is super niche [and] still super hard to understand, TikTok is super straightforward. Anybody can make a video."
According to The Tab, TikTok has helped formulate a sense of community with features such as the "For You Page," a digital feed curated based on what type of videos you've watched, liked, commented on or interacted with. Through the "For You Page," often referred to as the abbreviated word FYP, this feature usually allows users to learn about new content uploaded to the app related to their general interests. This feature on TikTok is unique because no two users' For You Page will populate the same, and the app's algorithm is constantly at work to find content and videos that you would genuinely enjoy.
"The targeting on Tiktok means I can make lots of types of content and it will hit the target audience. Plus I have found the neurodivergent community on Tiktok to be really great and supportive. I think it's a fun app that allows me to showcase my creativity, knowledge and goofy personality all in one," Smith said.
In addition to TikTok helping to bring people together, some TikTokers hope to leave behind a long-lasting legacy on the app. According to The New York Times, there is a high percentage of people on TikTok who are artists, animators, painters and other creative content creators who utilize the app to share their craft with the world.
Celeste Fleurs, a content creator and artist from the UK, is a TikToker and spoke about how TikTok is helping her impact and inspire others with her platform.
“For me as an artist, all I want is for my work to mean something to somebody. I’m over the moon that the things I’ve created have already had an impact in tech and for other gamer girls, and TikTok has been the main catalyst for helping me to achieve this," Fleur’s said. "I hope my content will finally demonstrate to companies that there is a market for tech that appeals to users outside of the usual male demographic because I’d love to see better representation on that front. Without TikTok, I wouldn’t be where I am today because it essentially gave me a platform and let me experiment with my self-expression. It provided the foundations for what I’ve managed to build and I hope to keep that up.”
Follow Selassie Flower on Twitter