It’s about the algorithm.
For those who study the social media space and have spent time trying to figure out how to get traction for their content, they know that the algorithm that determines what users see is incredibly important. Facebook and Instagram dominate in this space and have for years. When you see content that engages you, you’re more likely to keep coming back.
So when TikTok was recently named the best social media app of 2022 so far this quarter, I took note. There must be some reason why everyone loves it.
Fortunately, there is an answer to this question.
It all starts with the algorithm, and at the heart of the content engine that makes TikTok more engaging is the fact that the app knows what you like. As you spend more time watching instructional videos related to plumbing, you’ll start to see more videos like that. If you prefer to watch funny short clips with trending songs, TikTok pay attention.
Feed the beast, and the beast is you. Say what you will about this being pretty nefarious or downright devious, but TikTok has figured out how to create a perpetual interest machine, always feeding you content you like, which makes you want to scroll more, which in turn feeds you. with more content you like. Imagine if another company could do something like this. An ice cream parlor knows what flavors you like, then mixes and matches them to make an even more appealing flavor, which makes you want to buy even more ice cream.
In my case, I am more attracted to everything related to cars, since I have been reviewing them for more than a decade. I love watching videos that show off a new model, and I love longer videos that explain some of the technology that’s available.
Never before has there been a category of technology that can feed itself in this way. What we like becomes what we love over time. It seems that the app knows us, learns about us, feeds us with what we crave, and yet it depends on the fact that you will never reach the end. You’ll constantly keep craving for more, which in turn means the app gets even better at satisfying those cravings.
In my ice cream example, it means that all we will eat is ice cream.
I’m not exactly against this, by the way. I admire the ingenuity of a product that can create such user appeal and then improve over time the more the product is used. There has never been a product that feeds that “just one more” mentality. You might think it’s chocolate chip cookies or chips and gravy, but that product doesn’t really get any more appealing over time.
TikTok has won the social media war this year so far because it has hooked most users. However, I have some problems with social media companies in that regard. They don’t seem to know how to stop seducing users. I would rather they would interrupt the stream and suggest the user take a break. (I recently wrote a book on how to control bad social media habits using a daily routine.) As is often the case with the best and smartest technology, we become so obsessed with it that we can’t stop, which creates businesses. like Apple and Google.
TikTok is downright fascinating, and it’s all about that algorithm that constantly adjusts the feed as you watch certain types of videos. I guess TikTok will get even hotter throughout the year, especially if they keep giving me more and more car videos.