Tag: TikTok

TikTok Adds Shopping Tab So Shopify Users Can List Products Directly On App


Image via Shopify

Now that Facebook and Instagram have gone the way of providing a direct shopping experience, TikTok’s just released its own, too. The social media platform has teamed up with Shopify for a new tab that business users can add to their profiles.

Similar to how Facebook and Instagram shopping works, businesses will be able to sync their product catalogs and link customers to their online stores directly through the app. As per Engadget, the new feature is available to business users in the US and the UK, though they need to be Shopify merchants.

Additionally, the platform is introducing in-app product links, which will allow Shopify sellers to tag items they’re selling in TikTok posts. By clicking on the tab, a viewer will then be directed to the brand’s online store.

One of the first brands to hop on board this new feature is Kylie Cosmetics, the makeup and skincare empire built by the youngest in the Kardashian clan. “I built my business on social media; it’s where my fans go first to look for what’s new from Kylie Cosmetics,” the young business mogul said.

Although it may be annoying to see more links, it does save TikTok viewers time from commenting, “Where did you get that from?” on nearly every video. You’ll be able to know exactly what your favorite influencer is wearing, or where to get that cool new gadget, right from the app itself. Hide your wallets!

For more information on the new shopping tab, click here.

[via Engadget, cover image via Shopify] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415436/TikTok-Adds-Shopping-Tab-So-Shopify-Users-Can-List-Products-Directly-On-App/

TikTok Tests New ‘Effect House’ Studio To Let You Develop Your Own AR Filters



Image via Pemika Chedpiroon / Shutterstock.com

TikTok is looking to build its portfolio of moving image tools by allowing creators to use its new toolset, the ‘TikTok Effect House’, to create augmented reality experiences.

Currently in private beta testing, the studio will allow for TikTok’s own developer community to build AR effects usable in the app.

On its website , the social media platform is offering developers early access to test out the new feature. Effect House appears to be a feature focusing on the building of AR experiences that TikTok users can access and enjoy directly from the video app.

Potentially, it won’t be limited to just AR, but there’s no saying that other offerings—perhaps even VR—can’t see similar developments.

“We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Currently, we’re experimenting with ways to give creators additional tools to bring their creative ideas to life for the TikTok community.”

This might hint at a simplified user-friendly developing experience, too, rather than being limited to just developers with an existing skill and tool set.

TikTok has also revealed to TechCrunch that the website was actually launched earlier in August. However, the project itself is still in early stages in only a few markets, such as the US.

Because it’s in such an experimental stage, there isn’t a set date for when the feature will become more widely available. The spokesperson has also clarified that some of the platform’s experiments won’t make it all the way to launch. Until the feature has undergone more testing and we can be surer of the details to follow, we’re just going to have to wait and see.

TikTok is launching an Effects Studio in beta

h/t @Sam_Schmir pic.twitter.com/K3LS5S2Yoq

— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) August 14, 2021

[via TechCrunch, image via Pemika Chedpiroon / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415401/TikTok-Tests-New-Effect-House-Studio-To-Let-You-Develop-Your-Own-AR-Filters/

TikTok Radio Launches On SiriusXM With The App’s Most Viral Songs



Image via Funstock / Shutterstock.com

This week, SiriusXM introduced a TikTok Radio channel, along with some of the app’s creators as hosts.

If you’ve always got TikTok tunes stuck in your head but aren’t sure where they come from, this channel will be a “radio version of the platform’s ‘For You’ feed,” the station said. Now, you’ll actually be able to listen to the whole song.

SiriusXM is hoping this partnership will help it capture a younger audience. TikTok stars—including personalities such Billy (@8illy), Cat Haley (@itscathaley), HINDZ (@hindzsight), Lamar Dawson (@dirrtykingofpop), and Taylor Cassidy (@taylorcassidyj)—will be hosting the channel’s ‘TikTok Radio Trending Ten’ weekly chart show.

According to TechCrunch, during the channel’s first week, celebrities such as Ed Sheeran, Lil Nas X, and Normani will appear on air, too.

“The channel captures song-breaking music culture that creates so much joy and entertainment on TikTok through video, in an all-audio format,” said Ole Obermann, TikTok’s Global Head of Music.

At last, there’s now a solution to scrolling through endless YouTube searches just to find “the song.”

[via TechCrunch, cover image via Funstock / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415384/TikTok-Radio-Launches-On-SiriusXM-With-The-App-s-Most-Viral-Songs/

TikTok’s Unhealthy New Trend Is Eating Frozen Honey Then Dealing With Diarrhea



Photo 115083967 © Nataliia Mysik | Dreamstime.com

The latest trend cropping up on TikTok is the #FrozenHoney challenge, a pivot away from the usual lipsync or dance trends. The tag has been viewed 912 million times at the time of writing.

Perhaps it’s due to the unforgiving hot weather, but users have taken to freezing an entire bottle of honey, then squeezing it out so it snakes out the top like a popsicle, and eating it that way. Later variations of the trend see some users adding corn syrup to the honey in order to make it less thick.

@feelgoodfoodie

Tiktok made me do it! ##frozenhoney ##frozenhoneytrend ##frozenhoneychallenge

♬ Best Hugs – Shelley FKA DRAM

However, consuming such a large amount of honey in a sudden spurt of time is wreaking havoc on the internal systems. About a fifth of a bottle of honey is already enough sugar overload to cause undesirable effects.

“Gotta go get my stomach pumped,” half-jokes a user after attempting the challenge. It’s a sentiment echoed across many of the short clips.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, tells NBC that side effects of the resultant fructose malabsorption include “awful diarrhea” alongside stomach pain, since the body isn’t breaking down the honey properly. Not to mention the cavities galore.

When stored at appropriate temperatures and not being used in a viral TikTok challenge, though, the nutritious content and flavor aren’t affected this way.

“If you try this trend once in a while and you get a stomachache—just because everyone else is doing it—be independent and you don’t have to do it, either,” Lisa Young, a professor of nutrition, warns TikTok users.

@lalaleluu

Reply to @sqiudward_smells Note to self: don’t eat three mouthfuls of honey in the morning, it will cause urgent bowel movement

♬ original sound – Lala

[via The Independent, cover photo 115083967 © Nataliia Mysik | Dreamstime.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415200/TikTok-s-Unhealthy-New-Trend-Is-Eating-Frozen-Honey-Then-Dealing-With-Diarrhea/

American Airlines Is Now Offering Passengers Free Inflight TikTok



Image via American Airlines

Passengers aboard American Airlines will now be treated to free inflight entertainment, though it isn’t what you’re expecting. Instead of the usual movies and television series, it’s offering users free access to TikTok, in 30-minute increments.

Any passenger aboard a Viasat-equipped narrowbody aircraft will be able to log in to their TikTok accounts for free in airplane mode, using the flight’s own ‘AA-Inflight’ signal. If you don’t have an account, fret not, as you’ll also be allowed to download the app for free.

This isn’t the first time the airlines has partnered with a social media company. Previously, it teamed up with Facebook Messenger to offer passengers free inflight messaging. These trials “help American evaluate offerings to ensure the best experience for customers throughout their journey,” the company said in a press statement.

“Customers play the lead role in helping us better understand what content they want during their inflight experience, and TikTok is one of the platforms they love on the ground, and we’re thrilled to work with Viasat to give customers free access to TikTok while they’re in the air as well,” explained Clarissa Sebastian, American Airlines’ Managing Director of Premium Customer Experience and Onboard Products.

While it’s unclear how long this feature will last, it may not be a permanent addition to airlines’ offerings. However, judging by how widely used the social media app has become, and how effective it is at killing time, it could become an inflight favorite.

[via Gizmodo, cover image via American Airlines] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415092/American-Airlines-Is-Now-Offering-Passengers-Free-Inflight-TikTok/

TikTok Creators Could Be Putting Olympic Athletes In Danger By Outing Them



Image via Funstock / Shutterstock.com

Creators on TikTok have found athletes in Tokyo’s Olympic Village with profiles on gay dating app Grindr.

In a report by Insider, users used the app’s ‘Explore’ feature to scroll through profiles, uncovering some of the athletes’, and then posting videos of their profiles to social media.

However, this could prove to be dangerous for LGBTQ+ athletes, as homosexuality remains a crime in several countries participating in the Summer Games. The posts on social media could potentially out athletes from anti-LGBTQ+ countries, as well as Japanese individuals on the app who aren’t out publicly.

According to Insider, who didn’t link the videos to protect the athletes’ privacy, some videos on TikTok had zoomed in on specific profiles, revealing full faces and identifying information. One video even garnered more than 140,000 views on the platform.

In the comments, activists cautioned other creators from following suit, alerting them to the fact that they may be putting certain LBGTQ+ athletes at risk. The video remained up on TikTok till July 28, when the platform removed it for violating community guidelines.

A Grindr spokesperson told the news outlet: “These individuals are in breach of Grindr’s Terms and Conditions of Service which prohibit them from publicly displaying, publishing, or otherwise distributing any content or information that are part of the Grindr services.”

[via Insider, cover image via Funstock / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414968/TikTok-Creators-Could-Be-Putting-Olympic-Athletes-In-Danger-By-Outing-Them/

TikTok Adds New Features To Improve Livestreams: Audience Controls, Live Q&A


Image via TikTok

In order to entice more people to participate in its livestreams, TikTok has unveiled a whole slew of new measures to make its user experience even more seamless. These changes include a live question-and-answer function, keyword filters, and pop-up prompts to prevent harmful comments.

Trusted Moderators, Added Controls


Image via TikTok

One of the ways it hopes to boost the popularity of livestreams is by giving hosts more control over their own shows. According to Engadget, hosts will now be able to select a trusted moderator to keep track of comments during livestreams. They will also be allowed to add up to 200 entries in the keyword filter to ban unwanted comments in the chat. Other functions include being able to delete comments and temporarily mute viewers as the livestream is on-going.

Pop-Up Prompts


Image via TikTok

In addition, TikTok is taking a stance against online abuse through its new pop-up prompts on livestreams. Before a user can post a negative or abusive comment in the chat, they will be prompted to reconsider the impact of their words. The company hopes this measure will deter against more abuse.

Live Q&A Feature


Image via TikTok

Another highlight includes the addition of a LIVE Q&A feature. This will allow viewers to ask hosts questions during the livestream, separating their queries from regular comments. Hosts will be able to see questions pop up in the chat and engage more easily with their audience.

With TikTok saying the number of users hosting and watching livestreams have doubled over the last year, it’s no wonder it’s shifting its focus to rolling out new features for this rapidly growing format.

[via Engadget, images via TikTok] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414954/TikTok-Adds-New-Features-To-Improve-Livestreams-Audience-Controls-Live-Q-A/

TikTok’s Fatal ‘Blackout Challenge’ Hasn’t Gone Away, Causing Another Casualty


Image via XanderSt / Shutterstock.com

In a recent press statement, the Bethany Police Department (BPD) in Oklahoma confirmed that the death of a child this week could be linked to a deadly TikTok challenge.

Although TikTok isn’t where the notorious ‘Blackout Challenge’ first originated, it’s already been linked to two other deaths this year – a 10-year-old in Italy, and a nine-year-old in Tennessee.

In the latest incident, police and emergency services had responded to reports of an unresponsive child at an apartment complex just before midnight. Officers noticed ligature marks on the child’s neck, and despite being quickly transported to the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, he succumbed to his injuries the next day.

While it’s unclear if the child had a TikTok account or was actively viewing videos on the platform, a spokesperson for the BDP said that investigators were currently looking into such leads.

According to Insider, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that children have died from similar challenges from as early as 1995. The ‘Blackout Challenge’, like its many predecessors, involves encouraging people to choke themselves until they pass out or reach some sort of “high.”

Though the TikTok challenge has not been identified as the sole cause of the latest tragedy, social media platforms like it have allowed such trends to become more accessible to children and teens.

A spokesperson from TikTok did tell Insider that it blocks “related hashtags and searches to discourage people from participating in or sharing potentially dangerous content.”

As of now, you won’t be able to find any videos upon searching for the challenge on the app, and there has been no evidence the challenge had been recently trending either.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that children and teens haven’t found other ways of working around such bans to still perpetuate internet trends.

[via Insider, cover image via XanderSt / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414857/TikTok-s-Fatal-Blackout-Challenge-Hasn-t-Gone-Away-Causing-Another-Casualty/

TikTok Addresses Blocking Bios With ‘Black Lives Matter,’ Allowing ‘Pro-White’


Image via nikkimeel / Shutterstock.com

TikTok has found itself embroiled in a new scandal surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.

Users have said the social media platform has apparently been blocking creators from being able to use words and phrases with the words “Black” and “Black Lives Matter” in their bios, flagging them as “inappropriate content.”

According to The Hill, Ziggi Tyler, a user on the TikTok Creator Marketplace, discovered the phrase had been disallowed when he attempted to update his bio last week. He has since posted several videos of his findings, which show the phrases “Black people,” “Black success,” “Pro-Black,” and “I am a Black man” being flagged as inappropriate.

Notably, when Tyler tried using the phrases “Pro-White” and “Supporting White Supremacy,” he was allowed to update his bio without receiving an error.

TikTok’s Creator Marketplace has been rolled out for beta testing, aiming to help connect brands with influencers on the platform. Tyler told Forbes that he wanted to highlight his heritage so as to attract brands focused on diverse talent or racial justice campaigns.

The video-sharing app has since responded, saying Tyler’s experience was due to a flaw within the platform’s safeguards, which had been implemented to filter out hate speech.

“Our TikTok Creator Marketplace protections, which flag phrases typically associated with hate speech, were erroneously set to flag phrases with respect to word order,” a spokesperson told The Hill.

“To be clear, Black Lives Matter does not violate our policies and current has over 27 billion views on our platform,” TikTok said.

@ziggityler

#greenscreenvideo I’m going live in 30 minutes to answer questions. Y’all need to get this message out. Please. #fypシ #fyp #wrong #justice

♬ original sound – Ziggi Tyler

[via The Hill, cover image via nikkimeel / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414670/TikTok-Addresses-Blocking-Bios-With-Black-Lives-Matter-Allowing-Pro-White/

TikTok Tests Gigs Feature That Lets People Engage Creators To Make Custom Videos



Image via Pemika Chedpiroon / Shutterstock.com

After TikTok just announced plans to BuzzFeed News, the new ‘Shoutouts’ feature is currently first being tested with users located in Turkey and Dubai. Fans can now pay their favorite creators to create and send them a personalized clip through direct message.

Payment is via in-game coins, the same used for gifts and donations available in existing live videos, and can be topped up using real-world currency. The “exchange rate” stands roughly at 100 TikTok coins to US$1.80.

Prices for custom videos are up to the creators to decide, and the sky seems to be limit. Users can request videos from creators via a button on their bio, and the talent will have three days to accept or decline. The clip then needs to be created and sent out to the buyer’s inbox within a week.

TikTok’s expansion into monetization services comes in a bid to keep its top creators on the platform. Currently, they can make more money with other platforms, such as TikTok’s biggest competition, Instagram.

More information is yet to come on Shoutouts, such as an official release date, who can use it, and what the pricing or content guidelines are.

TikTok launches Shoutouts – fans can request birthday wishes, pep talks and other messages from their favourite creators.

Fans can directly pay in-app, through TikTok’s in-apps currency (also used for live-stream gifting). pic.twitter.com/i5zQJKNfP5

— Fabian (Bern) Ouwehand 法比安 (@iamfabianbern) July 4, 2021

[via XDA, image via Pemika Chedpiroon / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414650/TikTok-Tests-Gigs-Feature-That-Lets-People-Engage-Creators-To-Make-Custom-Videos/

TikTok Launches Video Resumes Portal For Gen Z Job Seekers


Image via TikTok

This week, TikTok launched its ‘TikTok Resumes’ pilot program, aiming to connect users with job vacancies at major corporations such as Shopify, Target, Chipotle, and Alo Yoga. Users in the United States can submit video résumés from now till July 31.

According to Insider, TikTok users have already been sharing career and interview tips on the social media platform, including résumé-building advice.

Now, job seekers can showcase themselves and their skillsets creatively on the app, by using the hashtag #TikTokResumes. They can browse job listings, view examples of A-star video resumes, and check out profiles of creators who offer career-related advice before submitting their own.

“We’re humbled to be able to partner with some of the world’s most admired and emerging brands as we pilot a new way for job seekers to showcase their experiences and skillsets in creative and authentic ways. #CareerTok is already a thriving subculture on the platform and we can’t wait to see how the community embraces TikTok Resumes and helps to reimagine recruiting and job discovery,” said Nick Tran, Global Head of Marketing at TikTok.

Take a look at some of the standout video resumes below.

@makena.yee

Here are the reasons why YOU should hire me! Don’t be shy, let’s get in touch. ##tiktokresumes ##tiktokpartner

♬ original sound – MAKENA

@coop.cm

Tiktok do your thing! Check out ➡️ ##TikTokResumes ##TikTokPartner ##productmanagment ##jobsearch ##graduated

♬ original sound – Christian 🚀

[via Business Insider, cover image via TikTok] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414613/TikTok-Launches-Video-Resumes-Portal-For-Gen-Z-Job-Seekers/

Old Books Are Returning To Bestseller Shelves, Thanks To TikTok



Image via Shutterstock

#BookTok’, a tag propelled by bibliophiles on TikTok to share their favorite reads and bond over emotionally-wrecking plots and endings, has been so influential, it is making bestsellers out of novels years after they went into publication.

Barnes and Noble even has a whole NBC News.

Because TikTok runs on a unique, user-based algorithm, people who are already interested in books and have engaged with content relating to the subject are shown more of it on the dramatic decrease in reading as a hobby, but this may just pave the way for a renaissance yet to come.

What's our new favorite source for book recommendations? TikTok, natch! Check out our collection of #BookTok's buzziest titles: https://t.co/d1GYHYoqrw pic.twitter.com/gzyoWD2Gtd

— Penguin Random House 🐧🏠📚 (@penguinrandom) May 31, 2021

It's actually been hopping on and off the Indie Bestseller list for the past few months, I just found out late about the last couple weeks because publishing was closed for the holidays. Haha. Sales started surging in the summer because of TikTok. Absolute heroes over there!

— ADAM Updates (@AdamSilvera) January 5, 2021

[via http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414604/Old-Books-Are-Returning-To-Bestseller-Shelves-Thanks-To-TikTok/

TikTok Is Putting Up Its Incredible Algorithm & AI Capabilities For Sale


Image via XanderSt / Shutterstock.com

Companies across the globe can now access the algorithm and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities behind popular app TikTok.

According to the Financial Times, the app’s parent company, ByteDance, launched a new BytePlus division last month, allowing firms to purchase the popular social media app’s technology, including the recommendation algorithm behind users’ ‘For You’ page.

Up for sale is the app’s computer vision technology, real-time video effects, automated text-to-speech translation, and tools for data analysis and management. Organizations can mix and match these features to suit their specific needs.

As seen on BytePlus’ website, several global companies have already sprung for the offering, including US fashion app Goat, Singapore-based travel site WeGo, and Indonesian shopping firm Chilibeli.

As per Gizmodo, TikTok published a blog post last year explaining how its incredible algorithm works. The app determines which videos to show on users’ ‘For You’ page based on their metadata, interactions on the app, what device they’re using, and location settings. This allows a tailor-made experience that varies greatly from user to user.

While BytePlus’ algorithm is certainly eye-catching, it’s going up against other giants in the market. Key competitors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Microsoft, and fellow China-based counterparts such as Alibaba and Tencent are all offering similar AI-based services, as per the Financial Times.

With rumors circulating that BytePlus plans to register trademarks in the US, it could soon become a major player in the growing AI space stateside.

[via Gizmodo, cover image via XanderSt / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414588/TikTok-Is-Putting-Up-Its-Incredible-Algorithm-AI-Capabilities-For-Sale/

TikTok Extends Video Length Limit, So You Won’t Have To ‘Wait For Part Three’



Image via Funstock / Shutterstock.com

Since late last year, TikTok has been testing extending the maximum length of videos from 60 seconds to three minutes with selected users.

Over the next several weeks, the social media app will begin to roll out this change to users worldwide. The platform hopes longer videos will allow content creators on the app to produce better storytelling and entertainment.

“Creators are already well-versed in weaving multi-part stores together on TikTok but we often hear from creators that they’d love just a little more time to bring their cooking demos, elaborate beauty tutorials, educational lesson plans, and comedic sketches to life,” said TikTok product manager Drew Kirchhoff.

According to TNW, when the app first debuted, videos were set to a maximum of 15 seconds, which was later extended to 60 seconds.

Now, with the limit being stretched yet again to three minutes, Vine-like short videos will no longer remain the platform’s focus. It will now have the same maximum video length as its rivals, Snapchat Spotlight and YouTube Shorts.

While longer videos may not hold the attention of audiences as well as the shorter ones, it might be a relief to stop seeing “like and follow for part three” the next time you try to watch a cooking or makeup tutorial, though we’re unsure if we can keep up TikTok dance moves for three whole minutes.

Take a look at an example of a three-minute-long TikTok video below.

@chowderthebulldog

We’re trying out TikTok’s new longer video format. Please let us know what you think. #fyp #bulldogtiktok #dogsoftiktok #petsoftiktok #tipsandtricks

♬ original sound – Chowder

[via TNW, cover image via Funstock / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414559/TikTok-Extends-Video-Length-Limit-So-You-Won-t-Have-To-Wait-For-Part-Three/

TikTok Could Start Collecting Biometric Data Like ‘Faceprints’ & ‘Voiceprints’


Image via XanderSt / Shutterstock.com

This week, TikTok introduced a new section into its privacy policy. The social media app can now “collect biometric identifiers and biometric information” from its users’ accounts, including “faceprints and voiceprints.”

The new section states: “We may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under US laws, such as faceprints and voiceprints, from your User Content. Where required by law, we will seek any required permissions from you prior to such collection.”

As of now, the company has yet to expand on why it’ll need this data, or how it will seek users’ permission. Plus, according to TechCrunch, only a few US states currently have biometric privacy laws in place. It’s unknown if TikTok would only request consent from users in those states.

If you weren’t aware, TikTok’s extensive privacy policy had already listed the different types of data the app harvests from its users.

This includes images and audio content, “such as identifying the objects and scenery that appear, the existence and location within an image of face and body features and attributes, the nature of the audio, and the text of the words spoken.”

In other words, now along with your unique faceprints and voiceprints, TikTok could harvest data from anything you upload onto the app.

While it may sound alarming, this is similar to the data other social media apps, such as Instagram, collect when you upload an image or video.

There are also legitimate uses for why TikTok and other apps collect such data. For example, as per TechCrunch, identifying faces and scenery helps activate the app’s AR effects, while voice-to-text data enables its automatic captions function.

TikTok has yet to provide further information on its plans for biometric data collection, though it’s sure to be a new sticking point against the controversial app.

[via TechCrunch, cover image via XanderSt / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414231/TikTok-Could-Start-Collecting-Biometric-Data-Like-Faceprints-Voiceprints/

TikTok Replaces Its AI Voice After Lawsuit With Previous Voice, To Users’ Dismay


Image via Primakov / Shutterstock.com

Earlier this month, it was reported that TikTok had gotten tangled in a lawsuit with the voice of its text-to-speech function, which allows users to add speech to their videos without vocalizing anything.

Bev Standing, the original voice behind the feature, allegedly said she had not given the social media platform permission to use her recordings.

Now, TikTok has a new female voice taking over its text-to-speech feature, which it had rolled out for user accessibility in late 2020. Voices on the app vary by the user’s region, and it seems the new voice has been switched for North American users, as per Insider.

However, it seems most users aren’t warming up to the new voice. According to Refinery29, the new voice sounds more upbeat than Standing’s recordings, and has been said to resemble a voice from a Barbie doll.

“Like… why she sound like that, though…” commented one user, with the voice change seeming to have caught most people on TikTok by surprise.

Some users have even said they’re afraid to update the app, not wanting the new voice and much preferring the old, “more monotone” version.

Hopefully, the new voice actor isn’t taking the critique too harshly.

@gia.guidotti

Like… why she sound like that tho…? #tiktokupdate#fyp#confused#weird#ihateit#texttospeech#foryou#explainthis

♬ brandy running and crying – brandy running and crying

@fymlili

I DEMAND AN EXPLANATION ##texttospeech ##fyp ##foryou ##foryoupahe ##update ##ConjuringHorror ##sad ##tiktok ##siri ##trend ##help

♬ Castaways – The Backyardigans

[via Insider and Refinery29, cover image via Primakov / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414151/TikTok-Replaces-Its-AI-Voice-After-Lawsuit-With-Previous-Voice-To-Users-Dismay/

How Snapchat is Preparing for the Next Creator Movement

2020 has seen many brands and platforms step outside of their comfort zones and experiment with ways they can deliver content at scale and create personal experiences. A player of late that has stood out in departure from the original focus on intimate communications is Snapchat.

Here’s a breakdown of what the company has released these past few weeks and what they could mean for marketers and creators.

Making video creations and communication more expressive with ‘Sounds’

Earlier this fall Snapchat released ‘Sounds,’ a TikTok-rival feature that allows users to enhance their Snaps with music from a curated catalog of both emerging and established artists. Tracks can be added pre or post-capture and then shared either publicly, via your Story, or directly to specific connections.

To add music before recording video, select the Sounds tool designated by the music notes icon on the right-hand side of the Camera screen and select a track from the Featured Sounds list. Alternatively, use the Sounds tool after taking a Snap to drop in a song after you record.

The current Sounds catalog offers “millions” of licensed songs from Snap’s music industry partners including Warner Music Group, NMPA. and Universal Music Publishing Group. Per Variety, beyond music, Snapchat is also working on introducing the ability for users to create their own sounds and add them to Snaps — an update expected to roll out globally on the platform in the coming months.

Acquiring mobile music app Voisey

Delving even further into the music industry space, Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. recently acquired startup Voisey, a mobile music app founded in 2018 that allows users to record short videos using professional vocal effects and backing tracks provided by producers. Clips are one-minute in length following the ever popular short-form format dominating the social media sphere.

Think of it as a musical equivalent of stickers and filters, where users can pick from a selection of user-created backing beats, hit record, and then customize the content by overlaying to the track with their own vocals. More specifically, they can add auto-tune, choral, spacey amongst other voice effects.

“We are on the verge of a revolution in music creation with the boundaries between creator and audience blurring like never before. Apps like Voisey focus on giving consumers tools that enable them to go from zero to 100 faster than ever before,” said Mark Mulligan founder of MIDiA Research in a statement to Business Insider.

The move seemingly follows a trend in which apps are more eager than ever to deliver unique creative at scale. Instagram, for instance, allows users to create high quality photos, TikTok the ability to create share-worthy short-form videos, and now, the window of opportunity centers on the next generation of music creators and giving them the tools to collaborate and work efficiently and effectively.

Unveiling ‘Spotlight,’ a short-form video feed

Taking a page out of TikTok’s playbook and Instagram’s ‘Reels,’ Snapchat introduced a short-form video feed option, ‘Spotlight,’ showcasing the top Snaps submitted on the platform by more than 249 million users and offering financial incentive for the most entertaining content. Snaps in this designated feed will play on a continuous loop until the user swipes to the next one. Previously, Snapchat users were limited to seeing snaps posted by their friends or posted by publishers in the app’s Discover feature.

As part of the push, Snapchat is offering a million dollars per day in funding, which it will distribute to the best Spotlight clips. The app will utilize a similar algorithm to TikTok in ranking each clip based on engagement. In particular, factors like total views, view time, and number of Favorites and Shares will be weighed. Clips are displayed in full screen, so the intent is for the platform to utilize specific indicators to better tailor the feed over time. In terms of how brands can get involved, a spokesman said Snap expects it will introduce ads to the product in coming months.

Instagram’s Explore page, TikTok’s ‘For You,’ YouTube’s recommended videos, and now Spotlight — it’s clear that a discovery engine is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have as creators become the crux of social media engagement. With an emphasis on exclusive content, these feeds are evolving as the key differentiator that will continue to etch platforms out above their competitors in the fight for online talent.

Photo credit via The Verge

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How to Use Exaggerated Emotion and Original Audio to Drive Your TikTok Engagement

Since 2018 TikTok has nearly tripled in size. Among U.S. users 18 and older, TikTok brought in 22.2 million mobile unique visitors in January 2020, 23.2 million in February and 28.8 million in March. In April, that number skyrocketed to 39.2 million.

Looking ahead to 2021, new projections find that the platform will exceed one billion users. Despite this growth, it remains an untapped space for many marketers due to the obstacles that come with adapting for younger audiences and the related cultural nuances, values and interests that define them.

To help add some clarity for those looking to stake their TikTok territory, creative analytics platform VidMob employed its computer vision algorithm to examine roughly 1,500 ad posts that ran this year across 34 brand accounts.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the key findings of the study and patterns of the videos that saw the most engagement and how marketers can use them to maximize their results.

Exaggerated emotion and the human gaze

Per Vidmob, exaggerated emotions like expressing surprise and anger led to an average of 1.7x boost in the number of six-second views, compared to more neutral expressions such as calmness. In addition, cycling between four or more emotions in a single video led to a tripling of conversion rates.

Not only is the use of talent critical to a successful TikTok presence, but leveraging footage and imagery of talent that focused particularly on these more powerful emotions prove to engage the audience further and foster a deeper connection that resonates.

In this vein, background content and providing context to viewers is especially important results showed. When users can see a creator in their kitchen, bathroom or bedroom for instance, it is easier for audiences to easily associate and relate to the content they’re consuming.

A couple of other details to keep in mind:

  • Limit close-ups—videos in which the subject’s face took up less than a fifth of the screen performed 31 percent better in terms of clicks.
  • Aim to show multiple perspectives versus a single gaze — clickthrough increased by 1.7x when the subject looked directly into the camera for less than half of the video’s duration compared to more than half
  • More emotions are better than one — using 4 or more emotions resulted in a 3.3x greater conversion rate when the on-screen talent versus when they showed 3 or fewer.

Music and voice effects

In a recent webinar presentation of the findings, Sarah Graham, research strategist at VidMob, explained, “On other platforms, advertisers are focused on the visual elements of the creative specifically whereas on TikTok, sound is very much key to the success of creative. There was a level of audio analysis that we were able to do here that we haven’t done on other platforms.”

Voice effects and music not only increase engagement but create a more native feel for its users. For brands, original music helps them create their own footprint and stand out above the noise. How you employ audio ultimately boils down to what you aim to achieve — depending on if your objective is awareness. conversions, or consideration, there are different paths to take including whether you only use audio or if it’s combined with music.

Some stats to support your decisions shared as part of the findings include:

  • Uploading an original track can lead to 52 percent more six-second views on average
  • Posts with either music or voice over saw 1.6x more clickthrough than those with both, and employing the platform’s voice alteration tools led to 1.7 times more click than a subject’s natural voice.
  • Audio-only ads led to a 51 percent lift in 6-second view rate, by comparison to voiceover plus music or voiceover-only

Copy and CTAs

The average retention rate across the majority of social platforms is 2 to 3 words per second. Compared to TikTok, however, given that it is a quick-moving platform and that its UI is very friendly to scrolling — audiences are effectively retaining more content at higher rates of 5 to 10 words per second. For brands, this shows the value of being able to convey more information in a shorter period of time.

A few other details in this regard worth noting:

  • Audio with 4 or more words per second saw a 19 percent lift in Conversion Rate compared to talk tracks featuring 2 to 3 words per second.
  • Featuring a CTA in the opening frame led to a 44 percent lift in conversion rate compared to when it was displayed later.

Using influencers and UGC-style content in different ways than other platforms is what ultimately makes TikTok a powerful player. The biggest lesson for marketers here: Avoid an urge to recycle — rather, experiment and think outside the box as to what you create, how it will cater to this specific space, and why the ad will be native to the environment.

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How TikTok and Shopify are Fueling Shoppable Videos

Earlier this year, TikTok announced a $200 million creator fund with a goal of helping more leading creators in its community sustain themselves financially solely through TikTok. More recently, the platform announced a partnership with Teespring allowing creators to sell merchandise they design and create directly to fans via the app itself.

As social commerce continues to proliferate, brands and retailers are recognizing that to rise above the noise they must tap emerging spaces with highly creative and engaged audiences. In this spirit, TikTok and Shopfiy announced a global partnership geared to help more than one million merchants reach highly engaged audiences and drive sales by tapping into TikTok’s global scale.

Helping Shopify Merchants Engage TikTok Users

“The TikTok channel means Shopify merchants—even those without a strong TikTok following of their own yet—can connect with these new audiences using content that feels authentic and genuine to the TikTok experience,” said Satish Kanwar, Vice President of Product at Shopify, in a statement about the new partnership.

At a high level, the partnership enables merchants access to TikTok’s key business features and software as part of its Business Ads manager including the ability to designate which product they want to spotlight. They can also access a variety of TikTok’s ready-made templates to help customize their campaign with their brands’ images, and videos. The tools are already designed for commerce and compatible for “merchants of any size,” so any heavy lifting is removed from the equation.

As a perk, they can claim a $300 ad credit to put toward their first TikTok campaign. Beyond launching ads, merchants can use the software to target specific audiences and track ad performance so they can more easily track for what they’re doing well versus what they can improve on in their next ad.

#ShopBlack Challenge

Prior to its latest push, TikTok had toyed with allowing users to drop e-commerce inks in their bios, launched ‘Shop Now’ buttons for brands to incorporate into their videos, and introduced shoppable components to hashtags with Hashtag Challenge Plus, it’s e-commerce feature.

Along the vein of hashtags as a commerce function, as part of the partnership TikTok and Shopify are hosting a co-branded #ShopBlack challenge scheduled to run from November 10 to November 15. The effort will feature products from over 40 merchants in a powerful testament to the responsibility and meaningful opportunity for today’s social platforms to support the notion that societal issues like racial equality and business growth are connected efforts. Specifically, by serving as an outlet through which Black entrepreneurs can share their stories and inspiration as business owners within the larger TikTok community.

Separately, Shopify released its own Black Business Directory through which users can discover and buy from Black Shopify merchants. The platform also recently announced its partnership with Operation Hope to create one million Black-owned businesses by 2030.

Simplifying social commerce

This partnership is just one example that speaks to the growing social commerce movement, a trend that has been accelerated by the coronavirus. As the physical stores closed in 2020 and sent massive traffic to online destinations, platforms spanning Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest rushed to update their shopping features. Mobile-apps are the shopping malls of the internet.

Content can be moved more cheaply and quickly than ever before and there are new ways to make it to ensure it stands out above the crowd. The influx of social channels as retail avenues doesn’t come without its own challenges, however.

“One of the concerns brands have with [the] growth of e-commerce across social, retailers and their own .com is that it requires managing multiple retail streams,” shared Jess Richards, EVP and Managing Director of Commerce at Havas Media Group. “The connectivity with Shopify for Merchants can simplify the approach.”

In an era of empowered consumers, experiences should be the primary focus for brands — and these have to be easy-to-navigate, streamlined, and delivered in hyper-relevant formats that match the space and flow of communication. Video is one of these expanding areas worth watching.

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What You Need to Know About TikTok and Teespring’s Partnership

A few weeks ago TikTok launched a $200 million creator fund with a goal of helping more leading creators in its community sustain themselves financially solely through TikTok. Fast forward to today, creators will soon be able to sell merchandise they design and create directly to fans via the app itself thanks to a new integration in partnership with realtor commerce platform Teespring.

This isn’t TikTok’s first foray into e-commerce, however. Last year it tested social commerce links in videos and piloted an advertising format with a call-to-action button that links marketers to social influencers. More recently, it introduced its ‘Small Gestures’ digital gift-giving program as a gentle reminder to practice digital empathy and not overlook the power of a small act, especially in these uncertain times.

A move towards non-apparel

As TikTok accelerates its e-commerce plans it wants to make clear its community will be at the center of its decisions and efforts.

“We believe, based on the current trend, that non-apparel items will be outselling apparel by this time next year,” Teespring CEO Chris Lamontagne told The Verge. “Layering in really smart commerce opportunities is key, so it could be physical merchandise or it could be something more digital…we as a collective need to think about creators in this way where they’ve got super engaged fans who love them — there’s already this connection.”

According to the official press release, creators will have a choice from over 180 different products in addition to having the opportunity to create bespoke products uniquely catered to their personal brand. Think beyond your typical t-shirt and hoodie and more along the lines of Skateboard decks and smartphone covers for instance.

Roughly 7,000 TikTok creators in total are part of the initial program though details surrounding which creators will be eligible to participate is still being hashed out. Another outstanding question — how will the products appear in the videos themselves? While details are still worked out the platform knows one thing: it wants to ensure a full shop functionality to make things as streamlined and simple as possible.

Tapping into underrated features

Amidst all of the conversation and social chatter around what TikTok’s future has in store, including the possible $30 billion price tag being discussed, former CEO of Vine, Rus Yusupov, used the opportunity to give TikTok some of his own advice in a CNN op-ed reflecting on the learning lessons garnered from his experience in the short-form video space.

“TikTok hasn’t stopped innovating. They’ve made bold moves we should have made. Specifically, its algorithm-driven distribution model is extremely accurate and effectively surfaces new personalized content. And allowing creators to monetize their content through live streaming is an underreported, underrated feature, and is key to their success.” In short, where he feels Vine failed is in not fully embracing new challenges and opportunities to experiment. It is one thing to become popular very quickly, but another to sustain yourself by constantly pushing the boundaries.

The growing role of exclusive merchandise

During an age of social distancing, e-commerce and exclusive merchandise continue to surge in popularity. Artists and creators enjoy leaning into digital experiences like shopping as a way to connect with their fans, gather feedback, and get creative in ways they haven’t before and are using various platforms to achieve these ends.

Earlier this summer YouTube dropped a feature that lets users include a virtual “shelf” underneath their videos displaying their merch. In June, Instagram opened up its own commerce platform for creators. Finally, late last month, TikTok took this trend a level further by hosting its first shoppable livestream in collaboration with Ntwrk — a home shopping network targeting Generation Z — and artist Joshua Vides. These are just a few of many examples.

With current findings showing that e-commerce is now five years forward due to the global pandemic, there is no shortage of white spaces to consider. The brands that will ultimately stand out above the crowd, however, will be those that can hit a sweet spot of premium content and experiences driven by gaming, shopping, and other means of engagement that feel fresh and accessible.

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How TikTok is Keeping its Community Harm-Free and Positive

In recent months TikTok has spearheaded a broad effort to instill an image of itself as a place of pure positivity and inspiration — one deeply rooted in American culture and users can express themselves in a toxic-free environment. More specifically, TikTok articulated its stance on hate speech and eliminating hate and dropped an ad campaign depicting the impact of its community.

Countering the spread of hate

“In what can feel like an increasingly divisive world, one of the areas we’re especially intent on improving is our policies and actions towards hateful content and behavior. Our goal is to eliminate hate on TikTok,” shared TikTok’s Head of Safety, Eric Han in a recent blog post.

In the update, the platform shared that since the beginning of 2020, it has removed over 380,000 videos violating its hate speech policy. In addition, TikTok banned more than 1,300 accounts for hateful content or behavior and removed 64,000 offensive pieces of content from the app. While the company admits these stats don’t reflect a perfect success rate — taking responsibility is an important action needed for long-term success. During a time when relationships are heavily reliant on smartphones and other devices, urging authenticity and embracing digital empathy has never been more critical for a platform’s survival. For TikTok, this is especially true as its fate in the U.S. remains unclear.

So how exactly does TikTok help prevent the spread of hateful content? Primarily it employs a strict zero-tolerance stance on “organized hate groups and those associated with them,” including accounts associated with white supremacy or nationalism, male supremacy, antisemitism, and other hate-based ideologies. To regulate this, the platform uses a variety of methods including re-directing people who search for offensive material to its guidelines and rules. The motive behind this is plain and simple — education around how to think before we post online and hone our digital empathy skills.

Enhancing cultural awareness and transparency

TikTok also notes that its evolving its policies in line with regional and inter-community usage. An ongoing learning curve for its Safety team, TikTok understands that not all slurs are used in a negative context. Conversely, they can be used as a term of empowerment. In this way, the platform is looking to improve how it defines this line and the distinctions that enable it to decipher when it has been crossed or not. In short, the app is looking to better read the room as its community continues to grow and identify new ways it can support a safe, respectful and diverse environment for all of its users.

Incorporating the evolution of expression into its policies does not stop with its own moderation teams, however. To effectively grasp nuanced content like cultural appropriation and slurs, TikTok is turning to experts within its broader Content Advisory Council and external civil society organizations.

“Our platform is the daily destination for millions of people to express themselves creatively, enjoy entertaining content, and engage with a diverse global community that transcends borders.” With this in mind, TikTok launched an information hub and dedicated Twitter account, @tiktok_comms, to ‘serve as a source of truth’ is counter to the various rumors around the app and deliver updates about the company in real-time.

“A ubiquitous part of American life”

TikTok may be a household name for its personal and quirky videos, but the platform is using this unprecedented time in our industry to remind everyone that these single moments of authentic creativity can cascade into much more.

Countering some of the negative perceptions and events surrounding the app as of late, TikTok released a new ad campaign designed to depict its community’s power in spreading positivity. Specifically, by spreading joy and bringing people together, while also launching careers, driving support for causes and educating the masses.

“We’re only halfway through the year, but the impact of the TikTok community on every facet of culture – arts, food, beauty, fashion, film – is undeniable….We’re celebrating you, our TikTok community, for making TikTok a ubiquitous part of everyday American life,” the platform said of the campaign.

From launching the D’Amelio sisters’ careers to reimagining learning with snackable science TikToks posted by Bill Nye himself to The Weeknd rallying more than two million users for a virtual concert benefiting the Equal Justice Initiative, it’s more clear than ever that one trend inspires another and there is true power in sharing our stories, talents, and passions.

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Why TikTok and Snapchat are Priortizing In-App Voter Awareness

During the 2018 midterm elections, Snapchat registered more than 450,000 voters through its app. Of that group, 50 percent of those went on to cast ballots. Fast forward to today, the platform is announcing a slew of new tools and features to help prepare young people to vote in November.

For context, of its 100 million U.S. users, 80 percent are 18 or older and between 300,000 and 500,000 Snapchat users turn 18 every month. In addition, the company recently obtained data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (“CIRCLE”), which showed that two-thirds of voters age 18 to 21 with some college experience received important resources and information about voter registration from their universities.

Driving in-app voter awareness

Despite being interested in participating in elections and exercising the right to do so, college-aged voters are unsure where to find the facts around the process. This is especially an issue in the context of the global pandemic as campuses are forced to operate remotely or limit the number of students on campus.

Here a peek into some of the updates and how they work:

  • Voter Registration: As part of its new series of mini apps announced this Summer during its Partner Summit, Snapchat is introducing a new ‘Voter Registration Mini’ which will enable users to register to vote directly in the app.
  • Voter Guide: Snapchat’s also launching a ‘Voter Guide’ which will provide users with key voting information and resources from official partner organizations covering topics including ballot education, voting by mail, and more.
  • Before You Vote: In partnership with BallotReady, this mini app will provide users with more insight into their voting options ahead of the poll as they finalize their plans
  • Voter Checklist: Also utilized in the 2018 midterms, Snapchat is bringing back the voter checklist, an interactive platform aimed to ensure users are registered and ready for the vote.

Detecting and removing misinformation

Yet another platform with a firm hold on younger demographics, TikTok, is also manifesting its plans ahead of this Fall. It’s focus? Combating misinformation.

“Misinformation, disinformation, and threats to civic engagement are challenges no platform can ignore. By working together as an industry with experts and civil society organizations, we can better protect the civic processes that are so essential to our users,” the platform explained.

At a high level, TikTok is introducing stricter, more specific guidelines around deepfakes and coordinated use of the platform to influence opinion. It’s also expanding its relationships with PolitiFact and Lead Stories to double down on fact-checking and adding an option for users to easily report content or accounts for review that they feel may be sources of misinformation. In the vein of detection processes, TikTok is gathering insights and key information from the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Foreign Influence Task Force.

As far as political ads are concerned, TikTok is using this opportunity to make it clear they don’t see them as a fit for the general experience they aim to create for its users. “The nature of paid political ads isn’t something we think fits with the experience our users expect on TikTok.”

Looking ahead

According to a new survey from GlobalWebIndex, over half (52%) of 18-24-year-old Snapchatters will be voting for the first time this November. With their specific reach into Gen Z and Millenials, it’s apparent why these resources by the part of TikTok and Snapchat are needed.

In the midst of an abnormal election year, on-the-ground voter engagement can no longer be counted on. These first-time voters would typically be preparing to register on-campus at college after equipping themselves with key information but these options are either limited or off the table. It’s on platforms like TikTok and Snapchat to step in and fill this education void.

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Will Triller Dethrone TikTok?

Since 2018, TikTok has been the talk of the neighborhood. It’s the new kid on the block that brands and influencers alike are attracted to in order to stay ahead and connect more innovatively with one another. In just a few short years, the app’s evolved into the hub of internet sensations including Lil Nas X, Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and dance trends like “The Renegade,” “Say So,” and the #DistanceDance.

This past April the app surpassed 2 billion downloads on both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Recently, however, TikTok has dominated the news including threats to have it banned in the US — its fate now uncertain unless an American company, like Microsoft, acquires it.

Amidst the uncertainty, competitors are looking for windows of opportunity including video-sharing app Triller. Read on to learn more about the basics of this app, why it’s experiencing a moment in the digital space, and what’s next.

Triller at a glance

Triller, first introduced in 2015, was dubbed as “an entertainment platform built for creators.” Similarly to TikTok, Triller is built for short-form, flawless video content that can be shared in seconds and created for trending challenges, music videos, and other viral clips. A key perk that differentiates it from TikTok? Triller auto-edits your takes into a single flawless clip. As stated in the official app store description “You do you, Triller does the rest.”

Outside of its auto-editing algorithm, you can customize content with over 100 filters, text, drawings and emojis, access the top music tracks from your personal music library, and directly share your content across your other platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, a simple text message or email, or store it in your camera roll and decide how you want to use it later. Another useful element especially in an age of social distancing — you can collaborate with friends in a group video.

So just how popular is Triller? As of early July, it garnered 50 million monthly active users, but more recently, the app soared to the top spot in every category in the app store across 50 countries, including the United States, Australia, and Italy. According to an official announcement, Triller now boasts more than 250 million downloads worldwide — a 20x increase.

Who’s on Triller?

Millions have made Triller videos to date including Chance the Rapper, Justin Bieber, Rae Sremmurd, Rita Ora, and Kevin Hart. Marshmello, Skip Marley, Juicy J, Martin Garrix, Millie Bobby Brown, Brad Paisley, Blac Chyna and Mike Tyson are also known for their presence on the platform while others, including rappers Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne, are leading investors in the company.

This summer, a few of Triller’s most notable creators with a combined following of nearly 50 million, Josh Richards, Noah Beck, Griffin Johson and Anothy Reeves, revealed they’d be leaving TikTok and onboarding with Triller. As part of the deal, they will be advisers and equity shareholders in the company.

What’s next?

TikTok isn’t counting itself out just yet. On August 7th at 8:30pm ET, The Weeknd will take to the platform, in the form of a digital avatar, to perform his fourth studio album “After Hours” during a virtual concert. In what TikTok is referring to its “first-ever in-app cross reality experience,” the event will be livestreamed on the company’s official account (@tiktok).

With the future of TikTok unknown, other platforms are wasting no time trying to get a competitive edge. Triller itself unveiled new filters, camera tools, and the acquisition of Hallogen, a go-live app slated to introduce a monetization feature in the near-time. Snapchat shared it would be rolling out a TikTok-like music feature this fall. Finally, last month Instagram officially confirmed that its competitor app, Reels, will launch this summer.

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How Brands Can Maximize Their Videos With TikTok for Business

Brands are a core part of the TikTok experience whether they use the platform to be at the front of emerging trends, connect with impressionable communities, or bring awareness to critical health and societal issues like a global pandemic and racial injustice. Just look no further than the #DistanceDance campaign featuring TikTok star Charli D’Amelio as an example of how TikTok continues to leverage its authentic spirit to offer users fresh ways to discover, engage, and make a difference IRL.

In this spirit, TikTok recently announced a new brand and platform specifically catered to helping marketers and brands thrive. Dubbed “TikTok For Business,” the platform will serve as the home for all its current and future marketing solutions for brands. These include ad formats such as TopView, which is the ad that appears when you first launch the TikTok app.

An audience for every voice

“The magic of TikTok is not just the chance to create, but the chance to discover – and to be found. With TikTok For Business, our goal is to give marketers the tools to be discovered and connect with the broader communities around them,” said TikTok’s Managing Director for Global Business Marketing, Katie Puris, in the official announcement. “For brands, this opens an entirely new window of opportunity to create content that speaks to people, to invite the community to join in the conversation, and…to Make TikToks,” she added.

Nodding to the ad slogan “Make TikToks — Not Ads,” the core mission behind TikTok for Business will be to encourage marketers to focus on aligning with more meaningful themes of creativity, expression, creator and brand unity, inclusivity, and a participatory community over interruptive, non-productive spots.

Branded effects, in-feed videos, and hashtag challenges

Amongst the new features and updates with Business for TikTok includes branded takeovers and a Branded Effects Partner Program that create seamless augmented reality experiences between brand and audiences.

With the help of partners including Tommy, Subvrsive, and Bare Tree Media, TikTok is launching a new AR effect called Branded Scan. At its core, Branded Scan allows brands to play a more integral role into the content creation behind ads. Specifically, by activating visual effects such as a brand logo or band product in a user’s 2D or 3D videos. These can also be combined with Hashtag Challenges to help drive engagement. In a time where we face an oversaturated attention economy, the simpler it is for brands to become involved in a conversation where users are already actively participating the better — and will only become more integral to our marketing decisions.

Separately, Brand Takeovers entail a three to a five-second advertisement featuring an image or video while In-Feed videos are longer in form, allowing brands up to 60 seconds of space and run with audio playing.

Maximizing Your Videos

Creativity aside, TikTok is also aware that brands must balance their objectives with what the data is telling them. In this vein, the company recently distilled down the three key elements that inform which videos appear in a user’s feed: user interactions, video information such as captions, specific sounds or songs, and hashtags, and device and account setting including language preference and mobile device type.

While the platform, like many others, largely seeks to show users more of the same content based on their engagement and interests, it also may show something out of the norm in an effort to promote diversity. “Our goal is to find balance between suggesting content that’s relevant to you while also helping you find content and creators that encourage you to explore experiences you might not otherwise see,” TikTok shared.

A few takeaways to note from these insights: when creating TikTok content bear in mind that each post is assessed independently, staying abreast of trending conversations will help you connect with a larger audience, and higher reach is contingent on viewers watching your videos in full.

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Why Your Brand Can No Longer Ignore TikTok

TikTok may be the biggest social media winner of COVID-19 lockdowns. Even though its audience skews exceptionally young (e.g., 60 percent of users are between 16 and 24), it’s hard to have missed a viral video on the music-infused, short-form video platform formerly known as Musical.ly in the past few months. 

Now with more than 800 million active users, the viral platform is moving beyond short dance videos reminiscent of the now-defunct Vine and into a broad category of influencers covering everything from cooking to digital learning

TikTok may have a significant climb to reach the pantheon of Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube, which account for more than six billion active users between them. However, the platform relies on something that can’t be measured by conventional metrics —virality and popularity among young people. 

It’s the cool new social media platform on the block — something that can no longer be ignored in the media world. 

A distinct algorithm

One of the defining characteristics of TikTok is that it relies on a unique algorithm that presents content in a different way than most social media platforms. The algorithm subtly displays content based on user preferences with what Jesse Hirsh, an established social media researcher, calls an “incredible” signal to noise ratio.

The power is in the details, where TikTok’s algorithm has some oddly compelling byproducts that encourage users to post content. For example, content from people that a user follows is divested from the main feed of viral content. Influencers don’t necessarily have to cater to their audiences when posting a video for it to go viral — an area where it differentiates itself from apps like Instagram

But what is most interesting is how common it is for new users to achieve impressive engagement numbers from the outset with a simple 10-second video. 

Reasons for this have been described as the “slow burn” of the algorithm where videos with poor engagement numbers went on to garner thousands or millions of views days or weeks later rather than being shuttered to the content attic. Compounding views can also catapult a random video to users’ “For You” page that is based on user preferences, regardless of their follower list. Consequently, videos rely less on hashtags and can aggregate views over extended periods without an established follower base. 

Since the videos are also only several seconds long, more content is churned throughout the platform at a higher clip. Compared to platforms like YouTube, which rely on longer engagement times, TikTok users can go viral much easier than other networks. And that’s precisely what ambitious teenagers are looking for. It’s also why 83 percent of users have posted a video — a telling metric. 

Its popularity is exploding

Facebook’s moat of social media apps dominates the entire landscape. Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger are four of the most actively downloaded non-gaming apps in the world. But guess who is poised to surpass them in downloads? That’s right: TikTok. 

For context, TikTok ranked seventh in “The 10 Most Downloaded Apps of The 2010s” list from CNET. It finished ahead of both Twitter and YouTube, despite launching in 2016. Twitter launched in 2006 and YouTube in 2005.

When network effects are everything in social media, the notion that TikTok outpaced two social media behemoths in just under four years of going live is fairly amazing. 

Leveraging digital marketing strategies often encompasses projecting a future landscape of media, influencers, and clever marketing tactics. There’s a compelling opportunity for media agencies to tap into TikTok’s snowballing growth right now. 

Many people in older generations, even Millennials compared to their Gen Z counterparts, are entirely unaware of TikTok’s power or popularity. They blithely dismiss the platform as a venue for silly videos of teenagers and kids, but it’s much different now. 

One of the most intriguing changes induced by COVID-19 was the transition of TikTok away from mostly dance videos and Vine-like content. It caters to social movements, professional engagement with audiences of people looking to learn something during the quarantine, and even subtle political critiques. And that’s where it has capitalized on a unique method of capturing people’s attention. 

A unique market for capturing people’s attention

TikTok stands distinguished among its social media competitors. It may not be the digital forum for serious (and often toxic) debate like Twitter, which is now becoming a huge force in academia. And it may not be the ideal communication medium for real-time chats with friends like WhatsApp, which now comes included with a payment feature.  

But it is addicting, just in its own way. Zoom calls with funny backgrounds became pretty dull during the doldrums of quarantine. Twitter is more fascinating than Zoom but is often mired in toxic political discourse. And Instagram isn’t nearly as entertaining when everyone is locked inside and not exploring the world. Enter TikTok. 

Imagine a bartender out of a job, who decides to furnish drink-mixing tips to followers during quarantine, as many bartenders actually did. What’s the best platform to capture people’s attention: one where the algorithm displays short-form viral videos of newcomers persistently or YouTube? Or invite people to a Zoom call, which random people will likely not join? 

What about someone who wants to mix music with fun cooking videos while everyone decides whether or not to order out or prepare the same meal again the next night? That’s what TikTok personalities like The Pasta Queen did. Exploding in popularity during quarantine, doubling her followers in the last three weeks alone, Nadia’s (The Pasta Queen) goofy Italian cooking videos have raked in views in recent months. Originally from Rome and now living in the US, The Pasta Queen is a microcosm for a class of new personalities emerging on TikTok that have smashed the viral, short-form style of TikTok with educational tips you’d find on some shelved YouTube video.

It’s an interesting dynamic, and also represents the global appeal of TikTok, which is widely popular not just in the US but also in India and China, which together, account for the bulk of its users. Expect creative professionals to gravitate towards TikTok in coming months, and away from more restrictive platforms like YouTube, which even saw the departure of podcast king Joe Rogan recently. 

Creativity is where the clicks are

Piggybacking on the notion that TikTok is a black hole for young, ambitious personalities and professionals, its growing list of influencers may become the most dynamic in the social media space. More diverse influencers bring more diverse audiences and more advertising dollars. And It’s not just the users who gravitate to creative platforms (and the advertising dollars that follow them). 

Content creators who want more flexibility to impress the up-and-coming Gen Z horde, which will soon be the largest consumer generation in the world, are pursuing TikTok aspirations. Social commerce is an unstoppable trend, and if you want to brand like Supreme, you need to appeal to Gen Z. With the promise of going viral for your first video, why would an aspiring influencer not at least give TikTok a try? After all, leading influencers on TikTok haul in some eye-popping revenue

As a media professional, marketing aficionado, or advertising specialist, TikTok may currently fly under the radar of most conventional branding campaigns despite its surging popularity. Maybe due to a mix of its Tencent origins, pointed Congressional criticism, or young-skewed audience; it doesn’t matter anymore. TikTok has come out of the lockdowns as the dark horse platform to usurp the coveted circle of Facebook’s app hegemony. It’s now the king of creative social media content.  

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The post Why Your Brand Can No Longer Ignore TikTok appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/06/why-your-brand-can-no-longer-ignore-tiktok/