Why Is TikTok the Biggest Social Media Opportunity of 2022?
Updated: Mar 8
It was an ordinary night in 2020 when rising country artist Andrew Jannakos’ life would change forever. Andrew’s (now) wife, Katie Jannakos, caught a video of Andrew cooking dinner while singing his new, unreleased song titled “Gone Too Soon.” The next morning, the Flowery Branch, GA native woke up to 250,000+ likes and 700,000+ followers.
“I was just cooking dinner, listening to a master of the song I had gotten from my producer. My wife was like, ‘I’m going to do a TikTok of this.’ I’m not even going to lie, I fought her on it. I was like ‘No, I don’t think people will like this. I’m just cooking.’ Needless to say, no pun intended, people ate it up.”
Now a signed Sony Music Nashville artist, Jannakos has toured with 2021 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Carly Pearce; his viral song “Gone Too Soon” debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artist Chart, as well as debuting at #12 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart (and within the Hot 100, by the way). The song has garnered millions of streams on DSP’s and his organic following continues to soar across all digital platforms.
Jannakos is just one of the many creators who have experienced life-changing success due to TikTok’s mysterious algorithm. With much rumor and headlines regarding influencer and small business success stories around the trending app, does this happenstance offer some sort of validity to the platform?
Regardless of digital statistics, TikTok is an incredible publicity tool in of itself. In my humble opinion, TikTok is the biggest social media opportunity of 2022. According to a 2021 TikTok press release, the app now aggregates over 1 billion monthly users. If you didn’t read that correctly, that equals ~12.66% of Earth’s population. Facebook boasts more attractive numbers in this category, with ~2.89 billion monthly active users (active user is defined as an individual who has logged into Facebook within the last 30 days). TikTok was launched in 2016 and is staking itself as a societal power player, if it hasn’t already…
With figures as strong as these, TikTok should no longer be considered a “cool app for little kids,” as Generation X has vaguely claimed from time to time. Have you ever thought to yourself about why the “kids,” who are commonly referenced in stereotype generalizations, are so addicted to the platform? You’ve probably heard all of this hooplah from some colleague or friend interested in data and social media before, but it’s very important to understand why TikTok is so powerful. Why do people spend hours scrolling on the platform? Why are creators and businesses finding success, even as quickly as overnight? Why is this app different from Facebook, or Instagram? The answer is simple.
TikTok has mastered, just like any viral social media application, how to trigger and stimulate your brain. In psychological terms, this is called “random reinforcement.” The principle of random reinforcement is simple; occasionally you win and occasionally you lose. Sometimes you will go viral and sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you will get a red ‘New Follower’ notification and sometimes you won’t. The possibility that you could go viral, or that you could gain more followers, or get a lot of likes on your spicy or funny comment keeps you waiting around longer. The fact that the videos are shorter creates the sensation that you can keep scrolling and find exciting content quickly. The scrolling could last infinitely long. This is an attention trap. You click on the comment section of an interesting post you find and immediately see if other fans resonate with the three-second opinion you made about the post. You argue, complain, cheer, and agree with other fans while the creator who made the video pumps out more content that you will find on the For You Page in about five minutes. You will repeat this process over, and over, and over, and over… Addiction at its finest, am I right?
TikTok took this exact “digital crack cocaine” model (as I call it) an extra step farther than this. TikTok’s algorithm is designed in such a way that you will go viral if you do things that keep people within their app, as opposed to hardly going viral at all. Think of going viral as a virtual “thank you” from TikTok. If you are compelling enough and force people to watch your video, that means the viewers stayed inside TikTok’s app longer. This promotes TikTok’s plan for social media-to-global domination, so of course they will push your content to more people – TikTok assumes that you are what the people want based on data and watch-time, so therefore they will put you in front of a larger audience.
An entire argument and thesis could be drawn up regarding ethics, mental health, and more. It already has been drawn up in various universities around the world – all of which are Googleable. I don’t want to go down that route. I do want to go down the following route, however…
We cannot change TikTok’s system of discovery by sitting at our computer or phone. We may have opinions about social media’s tactics, but we can’t change them. What can we do instead?
We need to use TikTok to our advantage.
The premise is that if we can keep people inside TikTok, we all benefit, essentially. It’s the way the addictive system is designed. The more you work for it, the more it will work for you. That being said, remember this exact idea when you are scrolling on the TikTok For You Page. Think of yourself scrolling on your phone, in bed, at 2 AM questioning why you are still awake and why you have been staring at TikTok for 3 hours. Relatable? Why did you watch those videos? What caught your attention? Why did X post go viral? When you’re ready to create your own videos, remember these notes and drill them into your brain.
Okay, okay, okay. Wow! I went deep. That said, my advice is to lean into TikTok as much as you can. If you truly believe in growing on the platform, you need to fully immerse yourself in it (as with anything). Learn to love it, breathe it, and work hard at it with a specific mission in mind. If you want to grow on TikTok, here are some tips that I have picked up from numerous sources throughout the last few months that have been successful for myself and other individuals. TikTok is just another tool. TikTok is just like Facebook, Instagram, etc. – you use them to connect with others. Why not take advantage of the platform that allows you to be social on media with more people than the other platforms? Keep an open mind, but don’t forget about the other platforms. Hurry, though, because TikTok will soon become too saturated in usershare. This will make it more difficult to go viral, and they may change their algorithm because of the usershare tally. Good news: it’s still early in the game. You want to be better than the algorithm. Treat TikTok with the confidence that regardless of what the algorithm is, you will prevail. Make it happen by following my tips below.
Also, as I write this sentence and my closing thoughts, I just got the big news that one of my colleagues just signed a major record deal thanks to their persistence with TikTok and using it as a tool to build a dedicated and real social media following. I will leave you with these pieces of advice that I hope you find useful!
A very good hook (first 1.5 to 2 seconds)
2-3 #’s (no more than 6)
Description with either a CTA or a conversation piece that stimulates comment discussion
Videos 9 to 13 seconds or 18 to 21 seconds (unless you have a timeframe that works better)
Click + prompt that is easy to see and read in the last 3 seconds of the video
Posting 3x to 4x per day (massively important)
Use trending sounds or content
Use reposts or recreations of your top performing videos
Use content in a series (Part 1, Part 2, etc.)
Most importantly, be authentic
Sources Referenced in Blog