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TikTok is reportedly 500 million users strong. It’s been a while since a new social app got big enough to make nonusers feel they’re missing out from an experience.
TikTok is an app for making and sharing short videos. For the Americans, it is one of the most popular of many short-video-sharing apps in that country. The videos are tall, and you navigate through videos by scrolling up and down, like a feed. You can follow and be followed. You can use it like any other social app.
TikTok has stepped over the point between the familiar self-directed feed and experience based on algorithmic observation and inference. When you open the app, you don't see a feed of your friends, but a page called "For You" - It's an algorithmic feed based on videos you've interacted with or just watched.
It's not full of people you know or things you've explicitly told it you want to see. It is constantly learning from you and builds up a model of what you tend to watch. In short, it is like an Instagram centered entirely around its "Explore" tab.
The first step to showing your content on most social networks is building an audience or having lots of friends.
With TikTok, you can make stuff for your friends. But those looking for something to post are immediately recruited into group challenges, hashtags, or shown popular songs. The pool of content is enormous.
TikTok is far from an evolutionary fluke. Its parent company, ByteDance, is first an artificial intelligence company, not a creator of mission-driven social platforms. It's content platforms enable people to enjoy content powered by AI technology, not humans.
The unintended consequences of these services are:
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Private messaging services like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp are where private interactions happen and people are comfortable sharing details in private group messaging.
There are new applications like Tex-Rex, The Infatuation, or Community which are helping brands penetrate this private space.
Micro-communities are platforms where people gather around shared interests, beliefs or passions. Some examples are Facebook Pages and Groups, Instagram Stories, Slack and Youtube.
Brands can tap into this by partnering with influencers who have the kind of demographic they are targeting.