The rise of TikTok during COVID-19
During the coronavirus pandemic, it seems like everyone and their mum has jumped on the TikTok bandwagon.
In fact, the app has been downloaded over 2 billion times. In Q1 of 2020 alone, the app had 315 million downloads, which is the best quarter experienced by any app, ever.
So it is just by chance that the recent growth of TikTok has coincided with the onset of coronavirus?
It seems that during a time when people find themselves feeling increasing anxious, depressed and bored, TikTok has swooped in to give the people what they need, playing a role in helping to maintain wellbeing and serve as a source of refuge and positivity for its users.
So, what is TikTok?
TikTok is essentially a video-sharing app. Users can create 15-second clips set to music or soundbites, which they can then overlay with digital effects. The app is easy to use and provides a limitless bank of content. From meme-as-video references and dance challenges to reaction videos and tutorials, the app is designed to focus on share-ability and online traffic.
Coronavirus crisis and TikTok – what’s the link?
As the virus started to spread all over the world, governments urged residents to practice social distancing and isolation.
With the people suddenly forced to compress their lives into the four corners of their home, we noticed a natural spike in anxiety, depression and phobia of the unknown.
And this is where TikTok comes in. The teen-favourite app, which was launched three years prior, had been waiting in the sidelines, experiencing steady yet slow growth. That is until the onset of coronavirus.
As more people stayed at home, more people wanted to participate, create and share. And TikTok content began to go viral.
TikTok became the ‘app of the people’. While celebrity presence grows, the app remains approachable. Sure, the era of the ‘TikTok influencer’ is imminent but TikTok isn’t yet dominated by celebrities with its main feeds still focusing on everyday users.
Psychologist at Vice India, Prerna Kohli, describes that, “TikTok has emerged as a safe space where people can be authentic and real, without feeling this need to wear a social mask. So using TikTok may be a way to overcome any unconscious feelings of a lack of self-worth or identity in these uncertain times.”
Call it comic relief, but essentially, TikTok has provided a generally positive space for people to escape the current crisis situation or deal with it in a lighthearted way.
Here’s a compilation of some trending TikTok dance videos: https://youtu.be/tgiFNrLR5ac
Don’t tell me that didn’t make you smile.
Will the TikTok trend continue?
Ever heard the term ‘TikTok hole’? If you’ve used the app, you’ll know. What was supposed to be a few pre-bedtime minutes on the app, turned into hours of endless scrolling.
But, don’t worry, that’s not just a personal problem. TikTok is designed to be addictive. Users can scroll its dashboard for hours without ever running out of content. The app’s algorithm uses artificial intelligence to observe your interests and quickly deliver videos that align.
One user even commented saying that since downloading TikTok on his phone, his screen time has gone up from 7 hours a day to 12.
It seems that coronavirus expedited a process that was already in motion: the rise of TikTok. Pandemic-related content has supercharged the platform’s growth with hashtags such as #quarantine (25 billion views) and #happyathome (11.5 billion views).
From grandparents to essential workers, the app’s infamous dance challenges are becoming household staples across demographic boundaries.
It seems that TikTik has taken over the globe, with isolation right by its side.
And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.