Well at last, I’m on Tiktok. I mean “on it” as a producer. I am a creator, as they say, posting content on a recurring basis and not just consuming it.
I say recurring because my first video went up yesterday. The second one is in the can and ready to post today. From here, I aspire to post stuff habitually, maybe daily.
I know, I’m late to the party. TikTok had more than 1 billion active monthly users worldwide at the start of this year. It’s on pace to hit 1.8 billion by the end of 2022.
Facebook has something like 2.9 billion such users, and YouTube has 2.5 billion. But TikTok is by far the fastest growing.
Yet when I ask people my own age, most of ‘em say they don’t use TikTok. A common reply is, “No but my kid’s on it.”
So I feel justified in sharing with my audience this view of something already widely known. This is for the other 6 or 7 billion of us.
Lot of people think the app’s content is mostly teenagers dancing. It sort of started out that way. Now it is a robust platform covering business, politics, health, sports, and of course real estate. It’s full of household tips and inspirational stories and social media coaching. Just everything.
The algorithm heavily favors content that is entertaining. The videos are fast and funny, and then you scroll onto the next thing. I believe this style has shifted the very nature of all mass-communicated info—for better or worse, I’m not sure which.
Here’s a creator who does brilliant explanations of macroeconomics.
I mentioned inspirational stories. Here’s a guy who always moves me with reminiscences of his life in advertising.
Here’s my post. Fast and a little funny, I hope, it took maybe 20 hours to produce. Shooting and reshooting, trying different camera angles, frustrated by bad lighting, mucking up with the microphone. Not to mention learning all the TikTok technology
If its subject matter looks familiar to regular readers, it is the same narrative told in my newsletter last month. It’s the story of a challenging home sale that took a few months to close.
Writing that print story took maybe three hours. The video version would have taken even longer—more than 20 hours—if I’d had to write a script from scratch. And it conveys considerably less detail.
I was never a big fan of video—neither of producing it nor of its prevalence in mass media. In the 1980s, I was a young newspaper journalist living near Sun Valley, Idaho. Like many ski resorts, it attracted a lot of out-of-town party people.
It was New Year’s Eve and I chatting with a cute young chick at the bar. She said she was a senior studying journalism at UCLA.
“Oh great,” I said. “I’m a reporter at the local paper.” She was unimpressed.
I pressed on. “Maybe you should apply here.”
“Nah,” she said.
“I can’t write. And I need to make a hundred grand.” Her career ambitions were in broadcast news. My annual salary was about $15,000.
Video, I believe, has been part of the dumbing down of America. But don’t get me started. That party girl may now be a big TV anchor in LA. Or a TikTok influencer. At some point you gotta get onboard.
And much of the video produced now—at least the cream of the crop—is infinitely smarter than TV news in the eighties.
We all need to curate our consumption of media, like we manage our diet. Here’s a TikTok creator who makes exactly that point.
But TikTok also pushes a lot of buffoonery; wildly popular stuff like public farting or slipping an orange bucket over someone’s head in Home Depot. There is also a lot of hate and hostility.
One dude regularly bashes real estate agents. In his world they are overpaid, incompetent hustlers who were responsible for inflating home values in recent years.
Unsurprisingly he sells an online course for homeowners to sell their own homes, without realtors. Presumably it covers intricacies of marketing, negotiating, finance, inspections, appraisals, contingencies, contract disputes etc.
That FSBO (For Sale By Owner) course is all video-based because, the creator says, his followers “don’t like to read.” You can’t make this stuff up.
An intriguing aspect of TikTok is the ability to “stitch” your video to someone else’s. It’s a way to respond to contentious content, and it makes for some entertaining rivalries.
My time is better spent than in engaging in pointless debates. Still, I will be stitching a few rebuttals to Mr. FSBO. I’m not ready for that yet. Meanwhile please check out my maiden voyage here, and as they say, like and follow for more.