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TikTok’s Influencer Culture: What Makes It Unique

Published On July 06, 2021

Unless you’ve been living under a social media-sized rock, you probably are already aware that TikTok is not just an app, but a way of life. Whether people love it or hate it, there’s no denying that TikTok has taken over social media. Neither Instagram nor Twitter has caused as much of a seismic shift in the culture of social media as TikTok has. From young kids to social media veterans, everyone has taken to the platform like a moth to a flame.

Staying on the topic of culture, TikTok can be rather intimidating for the uninitiated. Before you realize the context of a certain niche joke or a song, it’s already a trend on the app! The speed at which culture is shaped here can be exhilarating! Add to that the overly democratized algorithm and it’s a world that is all too real.

In this blog, we explore how TikTok has worked across cultures, be it for content creators, influencers, or brands & businesses.

TikTok: A Video-Only World

What makes users spend countless hours on the platform is its user experience. The video-only format of the platform resonates perfectly with an audience that has a low attention span and seeks instant gratification. This has helped TikTok crack a formula to the holy grail of social media – the endless scroll. The lack of text and images makes it easier than ever for users to endlessly scroll for hours.

Feeds on TikTok are of 3 types. The “Following” page is your regular feed comprising users you follow. The “For You Page” is an exploration feed with users who are already or soon-to-be viral. The third feed is the “Discovery” feed with all the recent trends, hashtags and branded content from influencers.

This level of discoverability for creators, and consumers alike is hard to match. Moreover, TikTok capitalizes on the concept of FOMO and gives creators enough views that consumers always feel like they’re missing out on something.

TikTok Culture

Easiest Way To Be Discovered On TikTok

The beauty of TikTok is that it is ‘viral-agnostic’ in some sense. Unlike other apps and platforms, a user’s existing following and engagements don’t matter when you share a video as every video is judged on its merit.

The algorithm works in a way that new videos are masked in between two videos that are already viral, giving you as much of a chance to get discovered. Instagram and YouTube algorithms don’t work that way. Their algorithms put more effort into pushing out videos with a high user base and higher existing views.

That discourages creators from consistently creating content. On TikTok, a teenager has as much of a chance to go viral as a big record label or a brand. TikTok also allows old videos to be discovered long after they have been posted, unlike YouTube where never videos take precedence and old videos die on the platform. This is encouraging as you never know when a video may unexpectedly go viral.

TikTok Culture

TikTok Is Where Trends Are Made

From lip-syncing to BTS videos and from #bussit to #skateboarding, the most popular trends that we know on social media today are born on TikTok. The speed with which challenges and trends manifest themselves on TikTok is unheard of. A lot of songs that end up being used as the background music for a particular trend become popular because of the trend before anyone even knows the song. Say what you will about the frivolous nature of the platform, it is shaping the pop culture references of an entire generation.

These trends hold even more weight on the web as they begin on TikTok and then move on to other popular social media platforms. If you can create a trend that goes viral on TikTok, chances are you are going to get viral even on Instagram and Twitter. With the amount of negativity and toxicity on some of these apps, TikTok trends provide a welcome break for those seeking fun on the web.

To stay on top of the latest trends take inspiration from the best, with our blog: Top 15 TikTok Influencers To Motivate You.

TikTok Culture challenge

TikTok Is A New Marketplace For Music

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that TikTok has changed the music industry. The industry, over recent years, has seen a renaissance of sorts with artists moving from traditional record labels to YouTube channels. TikTok has transformed this further. Any video that goes viral on TikTok with a background score becomes the viral sound for some time.

This capitalizes on the ability of the human brain to reject a bad ad but not forget the jingle. Brands and individual creators have access to music from different artists to use as a sound and you never know who’s TikTok video could make your music viral. Brands actively seek musicians to record original songs for this exact purpose, making it a win-win situation. When the sound is trending, everyone from beginners to mid-tier creators to major businesses jump on the bandwagon and use the music, enhancing its reach further.

TikTok Culture music

Collaborations Are Easy On TikTok

TikTok fosters collaborations in an extremely positive way. Instead of being competitive and singular, TikTok creators have realized that they can join forces to cast a wider net and leverage off each other’s fans. This led to the birth of TikTok houses like Alpha House or Hype Squad.  A house, as the name suggests, is an opulent mansion where these creators come together to collaborate and push out content periodically. While they do have a following of their own, they do benefit from building a brand through collaborations and increased loyalty. Some would say creator collaborations are as effective, if not more, than collaborating with a brand. Fenty Beauty sparked a revolution when they created their own house with beauty influencers and paid them to create curated content with regards to their products. Since then, their following, as well as sales, have seen mind-boggling returns.

Figure 1. Alpha House TikTok. Source: TikTok

Everyone Can Have A Voice On TikTok

While collaborations and houses are great for engagement and brands, the real magic of the platform is the sheer number of subcultures that you can experience. Like an underground movement of sorts, any niche group of like-minded people can interact here through a shared interest that might be hard to achieve in the real world. As the algorithm is largely democratic, it is based on learning about the user. Therefore whether a user likes a massive content magnate or a virtually non-existent one, it’s the same as TikTok.

If you’re into a niche art form, this is where you’ll find others like you. If a joke or a dance or a song or a trend gets any kind of engagement from users, it will transcend big brands and establish itself within a niche. These are the trends that influencers will ultimately aim to bank on, making it not so niche anymore.

TikTok Is A Potential Marketplace For Any Brand

While the platform is considered to resonate more with Millennials and Gen-Z, the methodology of communication makes it ideal for literally any brand that isn’t even a part of these two groups. A seemingly non-creative industry like Fintech, for example, has made boring content more interesting for their target audiences through quick videos and trendy effects.

Cryptocurrency is a booming topic across the world and something like Dogecoin went viral on TikTok before it reached the likes of Elon Musk. What we’re trying to say is that anything can remain niche until it’s not anymore. Brands use TikTok to build a niche following until these followers themselves make them mainstream.

Interacting with like-minded people from any corner of the world is the bedrock on which TikTok was built and it’s more evident now than ever to brands. If you can become a niche influencer, sit back and wait for the brands to come to you.

Read our blog: 5 Top Tips For Budding TikTok Creators, to create quality content.

Figure 2. Dodge coin screenshot. Source: Fanbytes

There is a massive misconception that TikTok is all about fleeting memes and quirky dance moves. This is not untrue, but with far wider ramifications. TikTok is mining audiences through quick content for a bigger purpose through magnetism and dynamic storytelling. No matter what your interests are, there is a place for you on TikTok to contribute to a culture.

Get your foot in the door before it’s too late. Grab our Ultimate Guide To Becoming A TikTok Influencer to delve deeper.

Our revolutionary platform Atisfyre helps millions of influencers connect with leading brands across the world and create trusted content and insights for customer journey touchpoints at scale. We help you understand and reach your audience, engage your community, and measure performance with the all-in-one platform built for connection.

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