DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
You installed TikTok and you feel like you dropped in on someone’s inside joke you have no comprehension of, and the rules are no clearer either? Well, welcome to TikTok world — we’ve compiled a list of things you’ll need to know. At least for now.
By: Gorana Risteski, Media Researcher at DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions and TikToker
You’ve surely read by now that Tik Tok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms with more than 500 million users. You’ve been hearing time and again that this is the platform to be on if your target audience is young. Just the same, you tried out the platform and felt like you dropped in on someone’s inside joke you have no comprehension of, and the rules are no clearer either? Well, welcome to TikTok world — we’ve compiled a list of things you’ll need to know. At least for now.
A posse named Inside Joke
One TikToker gave a good explanation in her video, describing TikTok as a community with inside jokes. If you show a TikTok stunt to someone who’s not on the platform, chances are they won’t get it. That’s what makes TikTokers feel special — they do get it, and they confound others around them with their inside jokes. These inside jokes most often emerge from the comments, where one comment is hyped up and placed on every video clip — like now the traditional first, which was copied from YouTube. Another way to create inside jokes is, of course, through the video clips themselves, where the joke will be part of a song, a move, or the way the video is recorded.
TikTok trends are fast-paced. If you don’t get the joke in two weeks, that ship sails away. A month is too old, and a after a year, the trend already becomes vintage.
These inside jokes also apply to music. Slews of songs have become famous thanks to TikTok only, and some other that are famous already have taken on a different hue because of the app. A song made by one TikToker has been streamed more than six million times on Spotify. Yes, you read that right.
Charli D’Amelio Hype
You’ll get the best picture of how important this girl is on TikTok by looking at the figures:
- She is only 15 years old
- She opened her TikTok account in summer 2019
- Only a month later, she had a million followers
- Today, less than a year since opening her account, she has more than 36 million followers, and the number continues to rise [Edit: Just two days after writing this, her followers already grew beyond 38 million…)
- The total number of likes on her video clips stands at more than two billion
She was not famous before TikTok. The fifteen-year-old girl who takes dance classes installed TikTok out of curiosity and took videos of what she does best. And that’s dancing. The video that went viral and made her popular was a duet with another older TikToker who creates simple choreography moves, in which Charli just followed the other TikToker’s instructions. As she said in an interview, she posted the video before she went to her dance class and by the time she reached the dance studio — an hour away from her house — the video generated tens of thousands of likes and views. This illustrates the very definition of virality — you never know what might snowball into an avalanche. The videos before that one were more or less similar — her doing a dance and recording it — but this one rose to fame. The reason is unknown. Furthermore, the video were getting increasingly successful, and she also started coming up with her own dances to famous songs, which other TikTokers embraced by making their own versions. The most famous dance associated with her is probably Renegade — which wasn’t even made by her, but Jalaiah Harmon, with whom she later on met and, of course, recorded the original version of the dance for TikTok. The whole D’Amelio family appeared on Gary Vee’s podcast, where they told their story and how it all started. Charli appeared in a Super Bowl commercial, and she also got an opportunity to meet her childhood favorite Jennifer Lopez and take part in the Super Bowl JLo Challenge. Her popularity got her on The Ellen Show and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where she recently appeared. She used her fame for a good cause by spreading awareness of online violence in partnership with UNICEF.
Celebrities or famous TikTokers
Celebrities are trying out the social media platform for the same reason as “ordinary” people. They find it amusing, and the people around them are already there, so why not. Some of them have a good grasp of what the point is and what format fits the platform, like Bebe Rexha, who invited Charli to dance in her show while Charli was at only a few million followers. Some celebrities totally missed TikTok’s point, but that didn’t stop them from getting the blue tick and millions of followers, earned by their name alone. This fact is quite annoying to the TikTokers who have garnered millions of followers through content but still haven’t been verified yet. The issue was quite a hot topic in videos and parodies for some time. It should be noted a person having many followers does not mean that they are a good TikToker. The secret is in the total number of likes on videos — if the number’s big, that’s the real deal. This is where the difference is made between the celebrities who have large numbers of followers from the start just because of their name and the TikTokers who earned their likes and follower numbers with their content.
Perpetual war: The Hype House vs. The Sway House
You probably have no idea what this title means, and those of you who do — congratulations, you are well-versed in TikTok.
These houses are actual homes located in Los Angeles where TikTokers record videos for the platform, hang out, and collaborate. This form of influencers getting together under one roof is not new, we’ve seen something similar with YouTubers (Vlog Squad, Clout Gang, Team 10…).
The Hype House was founded by Thomas Petrou (21), and Chase Hudson (17) in 2019. This house is home to a prominent group of TikTokers: the already mentioned Charli, her sister Dixie, Addison, Lopez brothers (Tony and Ondreaz), Avani, and many others. The audience loves to see their favorite TikTokers recording together, making duets, and hanging out, which is why this house has earned its success of more than 11 million followers. And the members themselves collectively have more than 100 million followers. The videos that captured most attention were those of Charli and Chase, who originally claimed to be only good friends, but in the end, it turned out that they were in a relationship. That was followed by myriad couples popping up, which only made the entire group more popular — logically so, considering that their target audience is teenagers. Recently, the entire posse went to the Bahamas, where they recorded a bunch of TikToks, of course. In swimsuits. That sparked a little Tik Tok drama, with Perez Hilton expressing that it was distasteful for a 15-year-old girl to shoot a TikTok video to an explicit song, referring to Charli D’Amelio. She refused to stay silent and responded that she was just trying to have fun and that was it. Not even TikTok is immune to #drama.
On the other hand, we have The Sway House, currently made up of only male TikTokers, of which the most famous are Josh Richards, Bryce Hall, Jaden Hossler, Anthony Reeves, Griffin Johnson… They also share a house where they live and shoot videos, but they too owe the best part of their popularity to romantic relationships. Josh Richars makes videos with his girlfriend (Nessa Barrett), Bryce Hall gained popularity partly by dating the popular Hype House member Addison Rae for some time, and Anthony Reeves is in a relationship with Avani Gregg, also a member of The Hype House. Right now, the biggest attention is turned to the new couple, Griffin Johnson and Dixie D’Amelio (the popular Charli’s sister, who is also a member of The Hype House).
By the number of romantic relationships between these two “rivaling” houses, it could be said that rivalry is there only formally as a means to boost popularity.
Caleb Finn, another forgotten TikToker case, the difference being that Caleb did not delete his account and remains active. At that time, reaching a million followers over six months was a miracle (later on, Charli managed to do that in a month). His most popular video is a duet with TikToker Ava Leeigh, featuring Babe Rexha’s song I’m Gonna Show You Crazy. He was popular during the transitions on TikTok.
Three TikTok eras
TikTok can be said to have had three eras:
- Musical.ly (LipSync)
- Transitions (Musical.ly & TikTok)
- TikTok (Dance & Comedy)
As we already know that TikTok was previously Musical.ly, the most popular videos at the time were pure lip-sync clips and the most used effect was the speed-up effect. Videos using transitions appeared after that. Transitions are forms of video editing and recording that make the change of scene as appealing as possible. Many TikTokers were masters at this and built their popularity on amazing transitions: Falco Punch, Shay Bar, Maria Jeleniewska, Federica Scognamiglio, Freja Rehnström, and many others. Since the era of transitions ended, they stopped being interesting and their popularity faded away. They are all still active on TikTok, but you can’t see them on the For You page (the page that shows popular videos following parameters similar to YouTube trending) — meaning not famous.
The local scene
How strong the local TikToker scene is reflected in the fact that for some time they have been organizing very successful meet-ups with their fans — not only in Belgrade, but also in Novi Sad, Kragujevac, and other cities. The Balkan Tube Fest team hired them for some festivals and events, and there they had an opportunity to hang out and meet their fans. The audience, by our estimation, is mostly 6 to 14 years old, but the creators themselves are slightly older. Our TikTokers are very active and don’t lag behind global trends. For now, they mostly shoot funny content, lip-sync, as well as dance videos. Even the local scene is rife with drama between two beefing famous TikTokers, while fans are picking sides. To learn about the local scene, check out the Top 5 Balkan TikTokers (listed by the number of likes on videos, with the two protagonists of the local TikTok drama sharing fifth spot):
- nikolinaa.ly (360,8k followers | 11,9m likes)
- milli2nd (877k followers | 11,2m likes)
- dariomarcac (197,5k followers | 9.3m likes)
- ela_burke18 (140,5k followers | 8,4m likes)
- barbiafrika (202,1k followers | 8m likes) and ukiqukiq (210,6k followers | 8m likes)
It’s Corona time!
And now a bit about the corona. TikTok is not lagging behind the rest of the social networks with the content of the novel coronavirus. As for the platform itself, each video that has something to do with this topic (whether the sound created for the virus is used, or any of the #, like #coronavirus # covid19…) is set aside by the information bar at the bottom of the video. When the user clicks on the bar, the link leads to a special page where the user can get informed more about how to protect from novel virus. They also started the project #HappyAtHome: LIVE! Every day live socialising is organised with famous TikTokers, singers, actors… New trends related to the virus have been launched, users record different choreographies such as: dancing in the rhythm of the song “Corona”, a dance that explains how to properly wash hands, a social distancing-themed dance (that Charli also recorded). As for other trends, there is also the song “It’s Corona time” featuring mostly empty stores, home equipped with disinfectant agents, toilet paper and the like; further on, there is the song “I’m bored in a house” featuring creators filming themselves at home getting bored. One can tell there are more users at home also by the fact that there is more and more content, such as the clips of well-known TikTokers who regularly inform their followers what you are doing while they quarantined or comedy clips on how online education system works.
We hope that we’ve managed to bring you at least a little closer to understanding the mysterious TikTok world a bit better and that you’re ready for your first video.
This was just the introduction. Get ready for the full briefing.