The Impacts of TikTok’s Global Presence

As TikTok is driving a new wave of entertainment, is the platform reflecting culture or creating it? Or both? The worldwide ubiquity of TikTok has myriad impacts, including fascinating and unexpected benefits to society.

Here are a few insights into the Swiss audience

  • 1.7M monthly active users
  • 5.2M monthly creations
  • 8.7B monthly video views
  • 70 minutes spent daily
  • 16 daily open times

There’s No Denying the Significance of TikTok

Overall, TikTok has been downloaded more than 3.5 billion times. It is the first non-Meta app (and the fifth app of all time) to surpass 3 billion downloads. In 2021, the platform remained the most-download app globally, with 656 million downloads. The second-place app, Instagram, is rather far behind with 545 million downloads, making TikTok downloads more than 20% higher than Instagram. In the first fourt months of 2022, TikTok was downloaded more than 175 million times. TikTok is available in over 154 countries and has over 1 billion monthly active users, who spend an average of 52 minutes per day in the platform.

TikTok is Conquering the World

TikTok trends proliferate worldwide – and quickly.

Globally, TikTokers are united in their enjoyment of these new trends, driving a sort of global unity. Are people worldwide benefitting from this connection? 

TikTok takes credit for the impact the platform makes globally. “Beyond music, our platform and community impacts culture and generates trends that start on TikTok and permeate everywhere.” On 5 December 2021, The New York Times echoed this sentiment, referring to the platform as, “2021’s central vehicle for youth culture and online culture generally.”

But more recently, on 3 June, 2022, The New York Times published, “a lot of stuff posted on the platform is so goofy and weird that searching for meaning in it can feel downright idiotic.” To declare the platform as both goofy and idiotic, while also serving as a central vehicle for youth culture doesn’t bode well for the future. The scope of opinion on the platform is clearly broad, and there’s also no shortage of controversy surrounding it.

Trends – Conformity + Originality

Trends typically refer to changes towards a prevailing tendency. What’s “trendy,” is popular and becomes widespread. More people adopt the latest trend, from low to high rise jeans, verbal expressions, or types of social media posts.

Many creative influencers put their own unique spins on the latest trends. The trend merely serves as an inspirational jumping-off point. As Hootsuite writes, “Users putting their own spin on trends is the best part — and they often get rewarded (by the algorithm) for breaking conventions.” From moving moments, to experiences up to comedy and recipes, TikTok sets constantly emerging trends in various directions. Currently, the song by Lana Del Ray – young and beautiful is a trend, to which people on TikTok share fulfilling and beautiful moments with their community, whether it’s experiences from trips, vacation days at the beach, or good times with their loved ones. But also yummy recipes have made it into the trends, currently a recipe with pasta, butter, lemon and parmesan in particular is also going viral. But next to TikTok’s originality, it’s the inspirational side we do really like the most about TikTok, don’t we? It’s so much more than a trend machine, but really offers deep, meaningful, touching and emotional (in a good way) content.

TikTok’s All-Knowing Algorithm

It’s important for social media platforms to have an appealing interface and deliver an excellent user experience. A critical mass of users and content creators are also vital to keep users coming back.

But the algorithm is a massive source of differentiation.

For good or bad [or both] algorithms are powerful tools that drive the impact of a platform and shape users’ experiences. TikTok is no exception. Arguably, TikTok does a better job of this than all other platforms, as evidenced by its popularity.This all-knowing algorithm has also led to some interesting outcomes, including one social media manager who wrote, The TikTok Algorithm Knew My Sexuality Better Than I Did. Smart brands are able to harness this power and leverage the platform to connect with their audiences.

The Vital Role of Creators

TikTok has been strategic in recruiting and compensating content creators, knowing that they’re key to the success of any platform. In July 2020, TikTok launched a $1 Billion Creator Fund, through which “creators will be able to realize additional earnings that help reward the care and dedication they put into creatively connecting with an audience that’s inspired by their ideas.”

TikTok has grown to be an authority on what’s hot. From songs and artists to fashion and products, the platform serves as a popularity stress test. And rewarding the creator community with creator funds is another way in which other platforms have followed TikTok’s lead, including YouTube Shorts, Meta, Snapchat, Twitter Spaces, and Pinterest.

70% of TikTok users say they feel like they’re part of a community. Beyond posting videos, creators can build and enhance community atmosphere by engaging with their audiences through tools like Stitch, Duet, Reply, and comments. Among our list of “Swiss Influencers & Content Creators to Keep an Eye On” is TikToker Julie Riess, who posts “Get Ready With Me” videos and shares with followers her decision-making process putting together outfits.TikTok promotes a variety of positive, uplifting activities. TikTok offers extensive support to content creators- even those creators who author content that’s consumed outside of the platform. Most recently, TikTok has partnered with Barnes & Noble and their creator community to launch the #BookTokChallenge, which encourages people to read new books and authors and then share their reactions.

How TikTok is Changing Marketing & The Value for Brands 

As we wrote in, “Influencer Marketing vs. Legacy Advertising,” traditional ads are a deviation from the content audiences want to consume, whereas influencer marketing fuses ads into the desired content. Recognizing this, TikTok has long advised, “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.” 

Many brands have been following this sage advice and achieving excellent results. Kantar’s Media Reactions Report ranked TikTok #1 for ad equity. “Ad equity measures the audience’s attitude and preference towards ads across media channels and premium media brands. In other words, TikTok’s branded solutions aren’t perceived as just ‘ads’ by audiences. In fact, TikTok tops the list for delivering branded content that actually resonates with online consumers.”

According to Kantar, “TikTok ad formats have the highest positive sentiment among consumers. This means that users are more receptive to TikTok ads than other media platforms.” “Of the 13 major digital platforms that Kantar compared, TikTok is credited for offering the least intrusive and most innovative ad formats.”

According to a TikTok-commissioned study conducted by Kantar, 72% of those surveyed agree that ads on TikTok are perceived as inspiring. “With innovative ad formats such as the Branded Hashtag Challenge, brands on TikTok now have the tools to become part of culture, enabling their audiences to create trends based on branded sounds, actions, effects or brand-related storylines that can travel freely across the TikTok community and beyond.” 

Kingfluencers TikTok services help brands harness this value with our unique holistic approach combining social media services, influencer marketing, and performance marketing.

Check out our blog and follow Kingfluencers for our upcoming articles.

Author: Megan Bozman, Owner @Boz Content Marketing

Metaverse Part 4: Does Metaverse = Decline of Interaction & Connection?

Withdrawing from Socialization, Escaping into Online Worlds

The COVID lockdowns beginning in 2020 were likely to exacerbate growing tendencies for people to remain in their homes, eschewing socialization in favor of spending time online with social media, video games, and streaming entertainment. As written in Scientific American, COVID threatens to bring a wave of hikikomori to America. “Hikikomori, a syndrome of extreme social isolation originally found in Japan that described primarily young men who confined themselves at home rather than attend school or go to work.”

Video games, social media, and TV are all popular pastimes for the Swiss as well. In Switzerland, a total of 65.4 percent of the population played video games at least several times a year in 2021 – almost a third of the Swiss play several times a week or every day. 

The Continuing Trend of Living Life Online

Living life online has been a growing trend, particularly for young people. Jean M. Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, has been researching generational differences for decades. “Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states… The allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today’s teens, who are less likely to leave the house without their parents.” Jean describes how teens are substantially less likely to date, drive, and work for money outside of the digital world.

Is the growth of the metaverse merely a continuation of the decline of in-person socialization? Are we on the path to where virtual worlds will dominate our existence?

In the movie “The Matrix,” machines enslaved humans. Unbeknownst to most humans, all of their experiences occurred only in a sophisticated virtual world. Will the metaverse be similar, with the exception that people voluntarily forsake reality for a virtual world? I must confess, I find the idea repellant.

Is Virtual Socializing Actually Socializing?

Simon Hohler, technical consultant at Ewasoft, explained that the metaverse, “Can be a medium of connection. For example, when people can’t visit loved ones in person, either due to distance or illness, the metaverse can provide users an experience of presence that is deeper than a mere phone call, or even video chat.”

Dr. Alen Lipuš, PhD, R&D Manager @ Pro-Bit, stated, “There’s nothing better than physical touch, but the metaverse is the next best thing.”

The question “Is virtual socializing actually socializing?” was examined in a two-year project led by the University of Exeter. Researchers found that, “training older people in the use of social media improves cognitive capacity, increases a sense of self-competence and could have a beneficial overall impact on mental health and well-being.” Participants engaged more in social activity, and particularly enjoyed connecting with friends and relatives via video chat and email.

When Virtual Reality is Real

Virtual reality is often considered not “real.” Virtual events and meetings refer to interactions taking place online via video conference. From knitting classes and book clubs, to dance workouts and happy hours, virtual events proliferated during 2020.

Remote participation in meetings has been a valuable option prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and remains a key tool for business collaboration. Many businesses hold remote meetings with potential new clients, land the account, serve the client, and earn revenue all without ever meeting in person. (On a personal note, I’ve been collaborating with Kingfluencers’ Co-CEO Yoeri since 2018 and have never met him in person.)

The connection and value delivered are no less “real” for the meetings having occurred virtually. Likewise, when seeing the smiling face of a dear friend via Zoom, the love we feel is no less real and powerful. The intentions behind our interactions are the same, as are most of the outcomes.

Should Brands be in the Metaverse? (If it Actually Exists…)

A recent article in The Drum made the case that the metaverse doesn’t actually exist (and emphatically so, I might add.) As we wrote in The Metaverse Part 3, metaverse is defined as, “a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.”

The author repeated the point that such virtual reality spaces do currently exist, but within games, and therefore “the metaverse” as a distinct entity does not exist.

Picture Source

What Should Brands Do? Balance the Innovative with the Accessible 

Dr. Lipuš recommends brands, “Try to do something meaningful and practical, and don’t just follow some buzz.” Buzz can distort both the real opportunities and the risks. This may be the case with NFTs.

While it’s tempting to want to make use of novel technologies to thrill customers with unique promotions, there can be downsides. In particular, blockchain and NFTs are still complex, and many consumers aren’t ready to overcome the hurdle. When considering an innovative promotion such as NFTs, you should also know how familiar they are with that tech.

Mr. Hohler states, “There’s still a high barrier of entry for users and using NFTs is somewhat difficult. Users must come to a site, install their crypto wallet, and make purchases with crypto currency on an exchange, which includes doing ‘Know Your Customer’ identity verification. However, this is all changing very fast, on a daily basis. We advise brands to make their promotions easy to understand.”

Mr. Hohler predicts that the role of NFTs will grow. “I believe in the future we’ll all prove ownership of items such as real estate and cars by owning an NFT in our bitcoin wallets.”

Frontrunners and Trendsetters

Brands, consumers, and influencers can build new and endless variety of interactions in the metaverse. Hospitality businesses can offer VR excursions and fashion brands can sell virtual accessories.

Far beyond B2C and B2B businesses, the metaverse can be used by NGOs and healthcare organizations. Interactions during tutoring orvirtual therapy can be enhanced with the deeper connection the metaverse can deliver.

Set a Positive, Healthy Direction Now

With the current state of the metaverse, the risks we’ve addressed remain theoretical. Although looking at other parallels, we should expect these risks to grow, but there is time to prepare.

Far beyond B2C and B2B businesses, the metaverse can be used by NGOs and healthcare organizations. Interactions during tutoring orvirtual therapy can be enhanced with the deeper connection the metaverse can deliver.

Now is the time to take steps to build a healthy environment, impeding the growth of the negative.

Organizations and associations, such as the Conscious Influence Hub (CIH), can play a role in setting the direction and advising. Based in Switzerland, CIH is a non-profit NGO with a mission of “promoting the core values of respect, empathy, and transparency in the social media influence sphere.” Working together, Kingfluencers and CIH launched a Code of Conduct with best-practice guidelines, including being a role model for empathy and respect, and dealing with sensitive issues in a particularly responsible way.

Finding Balance in the Future – Anything in Moderation

Human beings require physical exercise to stay healthy, as well as some doses of sunlight. Remaining indoors, particularly sedentary, seated in front of a screen, is a recipe for a myriad of illnesses.

However, embracing the metaverse doesn’t have to mean abandoning other active pastimes, any more than eating a cookie means we no longer eat vegetables. Additionally, unlike traditional social media platforms, people can engage physically with the metaverse, with activities such as standing to ride a surfboard after sipping a Corona beer. Physical movement can provide health and fitness benefits to users, while also deepening the connection with brands.

Balance is key.

With a mix of the metaverse and reality, we will have the capacity to live life more intensely, making a variety of deeper connections on a global scale. The distinction between online and IRL will become smaller as people strive for balance.

Check out our blog and follow Kingfluencers for our upcoming articles.

Author: Megan Bozman, Owner @Boz Content Marketing