Written by 19
6 min read

What’s a TikTok?

tiktok loading screen on iphone

I am not old in real life. But on the internet? I feel ancient. Here, my Vans are not ironic, they are bandwagon boots; my penchant for Googling slang (seriously, can someone define “Yeet”?) isn’t cute, it’s unrefined idiocrasy. After all, I’m a Millennial – shouldn’t all this work on autopilot?

How do I first prove that I’m not old? Pay no attention to the wardrobe of turtlenecks behind the curtain, and instead believe me when I say my nightly routine consists of Imgur and Reddit scrolling in bed. That’s where I’ve started to see an overflow of short, hysterical, and manic videos with credit links leading to an app that I could have sworn was headlined by a resurrected YikYak.

In walks TikTok: an app that I’ve largely been uninformed about, but one that has swallowed me — and much of the currently quarantined world — entirely whole. If you’re “internet old” like me and have been using your extra free time to peruse the app, I bet you have a lot of the same questions I did.

What is TikTok? And, my god, what does it mean?

Answer still loading…

This mobile-first app is the “leading destination for short-form mobile videos,” meaning that in 15-60 seconds or less you can: lip-sync to your favorite song, show off world-class makeup skills, dance up another revolution, brag about unique Amazon scores, or show us moments with your pets to bring joy to just everyone ever.

What is on TikTok?

Some people may say that you can change the world in 60 minutes, but TikTok is showing how this generation is changing the culture in 60 seconds – over and over again. A new dance move? It started on TikTok. An old song booming in popularity again? TikTok. Believe me or not, there is even a dance to a dubstepped Max & Ruby theme song – yes, the friendly 2002 rabbits.

It’s deeply infectious and always a touch weird, but maybe in the best way.


We’re here! Of course we had to HOP on our own challenge! ##maxandrubychallenge ##maxandruby ##foryou ##fyp @nickanthonyy @giannalavecchia

♬ max and rubyyy – giannalavecchia

Who is using this? Am I too old to download this app?

When you open it up, you’ll see floods of teenagers singing, young adults dancing, and pets doing the salsa – this arena has truly become a Gen Z staple. But, what you might not expect is the spike of adults, parents, and professionals jumping aboard. Your doctor might even be included in this mix.


Salsa Sunday 🤠😹 ##fyp##catsoftiktok##tiktokcats##petsoftiktok##tiktokpets

♬ Patatak – mihnea.craciun

And, when the masses flock, so do the brands you know and the ones you don’t – yet. With targeting abilities that span across over 150 countries and a captive audience who has been trained to just watch, those seconds become solid gold to marketers in the rush for exposure. Just don’t expect that your other platform’s content is transferrable here. This is not the place for a pitch. It’s the ground level for authenticity and to get away from Instagram celebrities, photoshopped faces, and picture-perfect ad campaigns. If your brand has a true and relatable personality, TikTok is where the rubber should meet the road.

So, the surprising answer is: No, you’re not too old. But this kind of silly and flash-pan humor isn’t for everyone; if it’s not an age misconception that phases you out, it could just truly be the content.

Is this just “another” app that will fizzle in a year?

The truth is, who knows. But the perspective is that TikTok might actually be here to stay for a while, if not become a core content staple. This doesn’t mean that these other platforms won’t begin to cannibalize by offering the same experience (re: Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat), but there is a brilliance in TikTok’s utter simplicity. And let’s face it – we’ve all been glued to it within recent weeks, which now makes it a real habit.

Just like the original Instagram before them, creating a one-trick-pony queue of only video shorts helps them feel unique. And while it’s easy to relate this phenomenon to the now retired Vine, it offers a full suite of in-app editing tools that let anyone from youths to yayas produce a high-quality movie.

It has also falsified the recent idea that “influencers are dead” – Charlie D’Amelio, a 15-year-old with over 40 million followers, would tell you differently.


THANK YOU GUYS SO SO MUCH FOR 46 MILLION!!! 💕💕💕 dc @keke.janajah

♬ Savage Tiger King Edition – calebjaxin

Do I commit to it?

I’m not sure if the people who know me best will be surprised by this (or not at all), but my honest answer is: Yes.

Whether you’re filming your own funny videos to share, recording things to keep for your own memories, or being a “scroll troll” by just watching and giggling along, there is so much joy that comes from letting yourself indulge in something silly for 15 seconds to 15 minutes (Quarantine translation: 1-6 hours).

And while I poked fun at the feeling of being “too old,” there is also the reality that the internet and its app offspring are moving at the speed of light – to not jump in and try to understand is to be left behind Googling all these questions until the next platform or trend comes along. Dissenters should beware, marketers shouldn’t bulldoze, and everyone should be on board.

So, what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time. TikTok, TikTok, TikTok…

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