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TikTok Just Keeps on Ticking

What a difference a year can make! From the routine world of everyday things, all things seem to be changing at a more rapid pace with each year’s end. In the digital world of technology, all things virtual appear to be changing at warp speed. Barely a year ago the word on the digital street was full of conversations that centered on the likely or unlikely chance that the social media platform TikTok would survive 2020. The hottest social media app in the world was predicted to be on the verge of being forced out of business in the United States.

With more than 800 million followers, TikTok was suspected of sharing the personal information of its users with the Chinese government. November 12, 2020, was the day that President Trump set as a deadline for the app to shed Chinese ownership in order to minimize a potential national security risk. Apparently, the issue of security and the ownership of the popular app was resolved sufficiently to escape its anticipated extinction.

The social media platform has become an extremely popular medium for young, creative, and eclectic users that produce and share short-form and entertaining videos on the app. Generation Z’ers have made the platform the fastest growing social media app in the world with 850 million monthly users in 154 countries. TikTok is expected to earn $500 million in revenue in the United States this year.

Now, with only a couple of months remining before the anniversary of its predicted day of demise, TikTok is test marketing a new “Stories” feature. The addition may be new to TikTok but it will be a near exact clone of the features users encounter on Facebook “Stories”, Pinterest “Story Pins”, LinkedIn “Stories” and the recently canceled Twitter “Fleets”. We guess that in the competitive social media world, what is old is new again before it’s old? Clearly it is a case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. The social media app Snapshat is given credit for the feature’s origin only to have it pilfered by Instagram. Honor among social media competitors is clearly passé. TikTok’s admission to testing the feature comes one day after YouTube launched its own copycat, short term “Shorts “option. It’s getting to be a bit crowded in the “Shorts” arena.

TikTok’s version of Stories is different in that it allows users to comment publicly on the creator’s content. Mutual friends can see each other’s comments and there is a tab to reveal how many people viewed a given Story that disappears in 24 hours. The addition of Stories offers TikTok users a simpler and more comfortable method to start engaging with TikTok’s format. The platform designers believe in exploring any creative tool that could allow its users to express themselves through video, livestreaming or through ephemeral, short-form content. Short stories are often successful in attracting users and getting them to interact with each other on a social media platform. It also provides marketers additional advertising space to present the brand’s message.

A TikTok spokesperson said, “We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience. Currently we’re experimenting with ways to give creators additional formats to bring their creative ideas to life for the TikTok community.” The “Stories” format may not always be successful but TikTok apparently believes that the millions of users will embrace the app’s newest, but well used, feature.

Just like that old, durable watch of a long time ago, TikTok continues to take a beating but it just keeps on ticking.