Constant Curiosity | #26
TikTok: The idea validation engine
Hope you’re doing well. This week I’m diving into a single topic that I’ve been exploring. Enjoy!
🎶 Understanding TikTok
As a technophile and early adopter, TikTok was the first new technology that made me feel out of the loop.
Over the years I’ve avoided, criticized, and misunderstood the massively popular platform.
I’ve assumed that it was a service solely reserved for Gen-Z wanna-be influencers trying to go viral twerking on camera.
Yet, TikTok is increasingly a dominant force in modern culture, and I finally decided to explore the service so that I could understand if it was worthy of my ire.
My biggest question about TikTok was this: is there a place for thoughtful content?
The best way I could think of to answer this question was to create my own content and see what happened.
Not knowing what the “kids are into these days” I just decided to repurpose existing content from my blog, newsletter, and Twitter feed into TikTok content.
I created a 60-second video based on this series of tweets I posted last year (tweet below)
This tweet received 6 likes and 513 impressions. I have nearly 3,000 Twitter followers, so this amount of engagement is a fraction of my total potential audience.
Contrast that with this TikTok video I created based on the same content when I had only 10 followers.
Within 48 hours, the video generated:
110+ new followers
I’ve also posted some other content, which in aggregate has generated over 14,000 views in just one week.
So how is this even possible? I had to learn more about the TikTok recommendation algorithm to answer this question.
The default page in TikTok is called the “For You” page. It’s not like Twitter or Instagram, which primarily show you content from people you follow. Instead, this page shows you the content you are most likely to enjoy from anyone on the platform.
But how did my video get such a broad reach? Whenever new content is created on TikTok, the algorithm randomly shows it on the “For You” page of a few users across the platform. If the video receives engagement (likes, comments, watch time) the platform will show it to more users who are likely to enjoy it. The result is that the best content (for TikTok users) wins.
That’s the secret sauce of TikTok. On this platform Content > Distribution.
Idea Validation Engine
After running this experiment, my outlook on TikTok has completely changed.
Yes, TikTok is home to countless dance and cat videos, but other types of content can shine as well.
TikTok may be the most efficient idea validation engine ever created.
I write and create content because I enjoy the process of refining my ideas by sharing them with others.
TikTok will allow me to validate my ideas with the largest audience in the shortest amount of time possible.
I plan to continue creating content for TikTok going forward. Click the button below to follow me.
Concerns with TikTok
Just because I was pleasantly surprised by TikTok, doesn’t mean I don’t have major concerns about the service.
To list a few:
TikTok is extremely addictive
Excess social media use has been linked to higher rates of teen suicide
TikTok has been linked to young users developing involuntary tics
Concerns that TikTok is sharing private user data with the Chinese government
In general, I’m not a fan of social media. I try to limit my use as much as possible.
I view social media not as a form of entertainment, but as a tool. And like any tool, it can be used to do both harm and good.
If you’re happily enjoying life without TikTok, I’m not recommending you signup. However, for those who are on the service, I’ll be one more voice trying to spread the word about living a more intentional life.
Thanks for reading and talk to you next time.