Since its arrival in 2016, TikTok has persisted in disrupting the landscape of social media. The introduction of short form content can now be seen on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and even YouTube. Whilst these platforms have introduced short form content to compete with the fast-growing TikTok, is this change something that users actually want to see? Has TikTok changed social media for good?
The Rise of TikTok
The shift started during the first lockdown, although TikTok was on the rise generally, it gained huge traction during the pandemic. Shortly after, Instagram introduced Reels which presented short form content in a similar way to TikTok. At the time, Instagram Reels were an added feature to the app, but the general format and use of the app remained the same. Facebook followed suit shortly after with its own version of Reels.
TikTok continued to grow with more users spending time on the app, other platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube began to feel the weight of the competition. This is when other platforms started altering and adding elements to try and keep users’ attention. In July 2021, YouTube globally released Shorts as its own form of competition for short form content. Similarly to Instagram, this was an addition to the platform, but the overall use and structure of YouTube remained the same.
Recent Changes within the Industry
Whilst it is clear that platforms were adding content to their platforms to compete with TikTok, they were not initially changing the function and use of their platform. In recent months, certain platforms such as Instagram have gone through rapid changes to emulate TikTok, in a bid to retain users, however, this has been faced with backlash.
An example of one of the major changes that were a cause for concern for users and content creators on the platform was the new home page format. This was designed to show users suggested content which the algorithm prioritised based on a user’s following interest. This is incredibly close to TikTok’s ‘For You’ page which shows users suggested content based on interaction and following. This was problematic for many users as they no longer had the autonomy to decide which accounts they would see, including the accounts users followed. To rectify this, Instagram added a new option on their homepage which allowed users to choose whether they would see content from those following or content determined by the algorithm. Again, this is very similar to the set up TikTok’s home page with the option to choose between the algorithm orientated ‘For You’ page or alternatively the ‘Following’ page.
Has TikTok changed social media for good?
Facebook, Instagram and YouTube were primarily created for different purposes. Instagram was known as a photo sharing app; Facebook was created to keep and form friendly connections and YouTube was a platform for amateur video creators to excel. Whilst is it natural for platforms to grow and evolve over time, it seems that social media platforms aren’t growing to facilitate their users within the platform. Each platform seems to have lost its original purpose within the market, trading a unique user experience for a more generalised ‘all in one’ approach.
The leading question is, has TikTok changed social media for good? Based on the growth of the platform, especially in such a short space of time, as well as the reaction of its success, the short answer is yes. Whilst healthy competition is natural within the social media market, prior to TikTok, each platform still had its own unique purpose. Now, many social media platforms overlap in user experience and function. It comes as no surprise that many users are demanding that platforms revert back to their original purpose.
What are your thoughts? Has TikTok changed social media for good?
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