Photo by Kon Karampelas
As TikTok continues on its way to becoming a social media juggernaut set to rival the likes of Instagram and YouTube, we understand that it is important for our followers to be aware of the latest changes to the platform. While TikTok has yet to fully address questions surrounding its potential for monetization, we believe it’s only a matter of time until content creators will be able to earn a reliable living solely off of their TikTok-specific content.
What is clear already, though, is that users are remaining engaged with the platform, and as brands continue to inspire this engagement with hashtag challenges, the future is certainly looking bright for 2019’s second-most downloaded app in the world. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the latest TikTok updates and explored what this might mean for your influencer marketing strategy.
Photo of TikTok’s current discover tab
This news will undoubtedly be welcomed by users, content creators, advertisers, and critics of the platform who have cited a lack of curation as a cause for concern. While it is yet to launch this stream of curated content, which has been compared to Snapchat’s Discover feature, many hope that by adding a navigatable reel of moderated highlights, it will minimize the chances of controversial content appearing alongside content that will appeal to children as well as paid advertisements.
This maneuver is not only important to improve user experience but also to ensure the longevity of the application. TikTok has already come under fire for doing little to prevent younger or sensitive audiences from stumbling on to inappropriate material. This has led it to be banned in some countries and has also discouraged some advertisers and brands from investing in marketing on the platform.
However, while this curation may be great news for brands, and in effect, content creators hoping to secure partnerships with these brands, conscious curation may stifle the popularity-driven flow of seemingly random content that users have come to love so much from the service. Finding a fine balance between addressing the concerns of advertisers and critics while still maintaining the same experience will be crucial to the success of this feature, so we are watching closely to see how TikTok implements it.
In another bid to streamline the user experience, TikTok will now offer users to choose which videos will be blocked from their feeds. This allows users to limit the kind of content based on who created it and the sounds that appear in them.
Photo credit: Matt Navarra
We expect that this will only enhance how users interact with their content and will go along way to helping users take control of their experience. It’s possible that as time progresses, users will be able to filter videos based on other criteria, from genre to subject, which is also bound to provide advertisers with a greater understanding of which demographics to target and who to avoid.
Photo credit: Derpfakes
A deepfake, for those who are unaware, is the name used to describe content that has been manipulated to composite the likeness of somebody into a video. The word is a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”, due to its reliance on artificial intelligence technologies to convincingly place the person into the video. While last year brought us some fairly humorous examples of how celebrities’ faces could be implanted into different scenes, there is wider concern around the ability to unwittingly feature someone into obscene or violent content with a near-undetectable level of perfection.
It seems as though TikTok is leaning on the former scenario to reign supreme, as it is reportedly working on a deepfake-style feature that will allow users to scan their faces and import them into a number of different videos. Interestingly enough, rival Snapchat has also recently acquired a start-up called AI Factory that specializes in creating deepfake technology. We expect, then, that 2020 will drive deepfakes into the mainstream, for better or for worse.
As we explained above, the technology is not without its controversy, so the success of its implementation may rely on how much control users have over their likeness and data. This is bound to be even more controversial for users in the United States, as military personnel have been ordered to abstain from the app citing fears that the Chinese government can access users’ personal data from TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance on request, as per Chinese law.
Concerns aside, these features are likely to not be going anywhere regardless of how TikTok uses them. We expect, then, that they are to become another tool to be used by influencers and brands in creating unique content and driving user engagement. Perhaps users will be able to export their likeness into a branded digital arena, or visualize a try-on of shoppable fashions. Creativity is really the only limit with this one.
In a bid to further improve its public image and online culture, TikTok has recently announced that it has updated its community guidelines. As described in the announcement, TikTok reinforced its goal “to offer our users the means and create an atmosphere that encourages their creativity and in which they can consume content that is expressive, authentic, refreshing and sometimes wonderfully weird – all in an appreciative atmosphere”
By doing this, its new policy will tackle a number of controversial subjects, including a commitment to banning manipulated content or fake news around elections by deeming it misinformation, by allowing satirical or historical topics on controversial subjects to be allowed as long as they are deemed as such and are appropriately categorized, and grouping violations of its guidelines into 10 distinct categories that will be cited in the event of an offending post or user being removed.
Photo credit: TikTok Newsroom
These updates address many of the criticisms placed against TikTok over the last year, including claims that it has censored political materials, especially those that have criticized the Chinese government. While addressing the new guidelines, a TikTok spokesman confirmed that these kinds of posts would no longer be censored, which in our opinion, proves that TikTok is quickly adapting to the morals of its Western audience.
To go one step further, we’d argue that TikTok’s commitment to filtering out divisive misinformation has revealed that it is more committed to fostering a harmonious community than Facebook, which has stood by its decision to allow misinformation content on its platforms.
So what does this mean for influencer marketing? If anything, it proves that TikTok has longevity and is building a fortification against controversies that could threaten to bring it down further down the line. This is essential to providing peace of mind to brands and content creators who may be looking to begin a career on the app or pivot from Instagram and YouTube to TikTok.
What cannot be doubted is TikTok’s appeal to a younger demographic, so with all of these changes in place seeking to build a more harmonious, entertaining and malleable social sphere, we are excited to see what 2020 has in store for TikTok and its users.
Want to learn more about how to leverage the power of TikTok with the help of the hottest content creators? Reach out to our partner consultants via firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, if you don’t want to miss our Social Media Round-Ups, subscribe to our newsletter here.