Why TikTok could make you the next viral sensation and brighten up your quarantine

Why TikTok could make you the next viral sensation and brighten up your quarantine

Ever tried doing the “Hand Emoji Challenge”? If you have, chances are you possess a TikTok account. A recent fad surrounding the increasingly popular social media application, it involves taking a video of yourself making hand signs to the beat of Y2K and bbno$’s ‘Lalala’.

Perhaps the most impressive “Hand Emoji Challenge” would be the video by user Nik Skrlec, which he completes the challenge using both hands and facial expressions:

@nikskrlec

This is NEXT LEVEL! 😜 ##emojidance ##emojidancechallenge ##challenge ##viral ##tiktokslovenia ##slovenia ##fyp

♬ Lalala - İlkan Gunuc Remix - danilla_carvalho

That’s some serious hand-eye-face-emoji coordination right there.

What is TikTok?

Everyone seems to have an opinion on TikTok. 800 million people use it, the young love it, the old and edgy cringe upon hearing it, and BTS previews their music exclusively on it.

Unlike platforms like Instagram and Facebook, TikTok is an app centred on making mobile videos fun, creative, and extremely shareable. Creators can string together clips and add sounds, effects, and stickers on an interface that is intuitive and enjoyable, even for a new user. It has opened a world of new possibilities for creators. 

One of its key features is allowing and encouraging the implementation of catchy backing tracks into videos. These tracks can come from professional artists like Doja Cat and Dua Lipa, or from other users deciding to upload their own original sounds for the world to enjoy. TikTok has made both new and old songs go viral, including bringing back this 80s hit.

TikTok's Unique Algorithm

BTS’ previews aside, certain songs have shot to fame simply by virtue of being TikTok fodder; examples include Lil Nas’ ‘Old Town Road’, and Arizona Zervas’ ‘Roxanne’. On the Asian front, acts like RRILEY, MICappella and THELIONCITYBOY have also started TikTok accounts, netting them even more exposure with their videos reaching over 60,000 views. RRILEY’s ‘mmm bye’ features as a curated TikTok backing track, and is featured in over 800 videos. 

Therein lies the hidden potential of TikTok: its ability as the next viral social media phenomenon to promote music of all genres.

In an exclusive interview with Alan Tang, Music Operations Team, Southeast Asia, TikTok, he explains that the app features an intelligent discovery process powered by a combination of machine learning and local operational teams well-versed in cultural trends and nuances. This gives rise to very interactive “TikTok challenges” and trending topics that anyone can participate in.

“Machine learning is applied into the content discovery process, as well as in the creation of tools including special effects, cool features, stickers and other video editing tools, resulting in a pool of very diversified content, and providing a direct way for creators and fans to connect.” he says. This results in a compelling personalised viewing experience in the app’s “For You” feed, enabling users to reach a new audience. 

Opening a freshly downloaded TikTok app, our writer gets shown Michael Le and Javier Romero’s vivacious hip-shaking down the escalator to Shakira’s 2006 hit song 'Hips Don’t Lie'. A response to an original post by fellow user Miguel Gonzalez, this challenge has already garnered 281,700 video responses to date.

When asked why TikTok seems to be easier for new users to get views and engagement (👇🏻 case in point our #broomchallenge), Alan offers further insight that instead of serving up videos from only popular users of the platform, users also get recommendations to videos shared by regular users of the app based on their preferences. They also apply a robust localization strategy to encourage users to create content relevant to their local cultures and trends, with operators like him helping to ensure the best community support for creativity and discovery of local users.

Our #broomchallenge getting over 32,500 views overnight despite of having only 127 followers

This seems a departure from most social apps, where the usual process of showing your content to a wider audience is having to build up a mass of followers, which is easier to achieve for those who are already famous, extremely good-looking, or well connected. TikTok seems to open up a world of new possibilities and reach for all kinds of creators just from using the app.  ​​​​​

TikTok and Creativity

In addition to broadening your horizons, TikTok has made creative expression more accessible than ever before, like this animated version of the viral dance to Dua Lipa's 'Don't Start Now' by Lauren Deane:

@misslaurendeane

this one goes out to the ceo of bucket hats herself @thexhan 💖 ##animation##animated##rotoscope##fyp##foryou##foryoupage##4u

♬ Don't Start Now - Dua Lipa

Video editing is made simpler too. Singaporean TikTok user WizAirul uses TikTok’s user-friendly video editing software to create “transitions”, mind-blowingly complicated scene-shifts that match the beat of the backing tracks used:

@wizairulrosalessidek

Wanna do transitions with me?🤗 ##transition ##transitioner ##transitions ##kawaiirabbit ##fyp ##singapore

♬ original sound - kokoleyy

With the recent global Covid-19 outbreak, a viral video where users are mimicking hand-washing gestures to the beat of a vietnamese song has surfaced on TikTok.

Originating from choreographer Quang Đăng, it uses a parody of the popular Vietnamese song ‘Ghen’ by Khắc Hưng, Min and Erik to create the “Ghen Co Vy Challenge”, which has spawned the creation of over 7500 videos, with more than 4.2 million views to date:

@im.quangdang

Cùng nâng cao và bảo vệ sức khỏe bằng cách lan tỏa ##vudieuruatay Bạn sẵn sàng tham gia cùng Đăng chứ? 😉 ##quangdang ##tiktokvietnam

♬ Ghen Cô Vy (Vũ Điệu Rửa Tay) - Khắc Hưng, MIN, ERIK

Fighting virus with viral (videos), this challenge inevitably aided in educating the Vietnamese public on reasonable steps to take to avoid transmitting or receiving the Covid-19 virus, one “sick” dance move at a time.

Encouraged by the success of the “Ghen Co Vy Challenge”, Singapore has also jumped on the viral bandwagon, with local radio application Camokakis collaborating with TikTok to create the “SGUnited challenge”. Released on the 14th of March, Singaporeans can upload TikTok videos making hand-washing motions to the beat of the #SGUnited song produced by the Music and Drama Company and performed by artistes Gail Belmonte and Khim Ng. These videos combined have already gained over 100,000 views to date.

@fadilahjubir94

##sgunited ##frontliner💪🏽❤️

♬ original sound - Ariessa Koh

By limiting users to short 15 to 60 second clips, users are less intimidated by the amount of effort needed to express their creativity. Fresh, wild, and incredibly innovative, TikTok is inspiring a new generation of animators, videographers and dancers. The best part? That’s just the tip of the artistic iceberg.

TikTok and Music Creation

On the musical side of the creativity spectrum, singers like Taylor Edlin thrive off TikTok. A master of lower harmonies, his riffs are clean enough to sound like autotune at times, seamlessly blending in with the backing tracks TikTok readily provides for him.

@tayloresings

Remaking my most viral harmony video with a slate digital mic rather than an iPhone 6s ##candy ##dojacat ##fyp

♬ Candy - Doja Cat

His own videos have become backing track material through the use of the “duet” function, allowing other users to showcase their own creative flair. Taylor occasionally posts “Riff Challenges”, videos with no backing track, just for other users to test their singing ability. TikTok’s “duet” feature is also used in his collaborations with fellow singers like Nina Ann Nelson:

@tayloresings

Here is the full harmony! All finished. With @ninaannnelson ##fyp ##music ##duet

♬ original sound - tayloresings

TikTok with Caution!

While TikTok has enabled a whole new wave of creativity and popularity, the ingenuity to ‘go viral’ or entertain may have also led creators to cross safety limits, and sometimes with disastrous consequences.

In 2018, the “Kiki Challenge” resulted in police around the world warning people against doing the challenge, citing injuries and unfortunate incidents that came about from exiting slow moving vehicles to dance to Drake’s ‘In My Feelings’.

Recently, two minors were charged for aggravated assault by US prosecutors over the “Skull-breaker challenge”, which involved two people kicking the legs from under a third, making them fall over.

This has led Tiktok to respond with safety warnings and actively taking down dangerous videos. The company has also taken creative steps toward stewarding its community, by working with its top creators to make TikTok style videos featuring its safety guidelines.

@tiktoktips

Stay safe and create responsibly on TikTok!

♬ original sound - tiktoktips

Alan notes that TikTok also  maintains comprehensive community guidelines that are constantly being updated to mitigate emerging risks and foster a global community.  TikTok’s moderators also ensure that harmful media is swiftly dealt with, with actions ranging from account bans to contacting and cooperating with local law enforcement.

What's in it for me?

That said, if you are a budding artist, singer, animator, videographer or content creator, TikTok remains one of the most powerful tools today to showcase yourself to the world. If you are looking for new music and dance moves to jive to, TikTok can also be the avenue for new and refreshing ideas.

In addition, users can enjoy monetary rewards from viewers who appreciate their content. TikTok users have spent over 115.3 million as of 2019 on virtual currency to lavish upon their favourite content creators, with the figure growing over the past 7 quarters. TikTok’s virtual “diamonds” can be converted into money, allowing content creators to earn from their content. 

If all this doesn’t matter, and all you want to do is make weird hand gestures and facial expressions, TikTok and its users will love you too. 

@officialtaufikbatisah

Da fugggg 🤣 ##bagaikanlangit ##bagaikanlangitchallenge ##taufikbatisah ##tiktoksg ##tiktok

♬ Bagaikan Langit(cover) - _ucil👑