Why TikTok is so exciting for the young

Especially The Gen Z loves TikTok. More than 5 million users already use the app in Germany, and 1 billion worldwide. German users call TikTok on average 10 times a day and then spend about 50 minutes with the app, significantly more than on facebook or Instagram. What fascinates young people about TikTok? What user experience does it convey and which learnings can be derived for commercial use?

TikTok looks like a video miracle bag full of nonsensical surprises. It offers a colorful variety of funny, whimsical, creative and sometimes even useful videos, which are played to you in seemingly arbitrary order. “There are all the things in TikTok that you try to keep out of your head while learning,” says a 20-year-old student.

The meaning of TikTok’s use is therefore, so to speak, the nonsense of the content, e.g. in idle situations can be used as an activating contrast program or when learning as a time-out to get your head free again. The videos remain entertaining and free from the everyday requirement of being reasonable and the usual performance pressure on social networks.

The actual user experience is characterized in the first access by the moment of control, because the users judge the works of the creators – hot or not – as in a kind of permanent audition. The sheer tickle of these constant decisions and the curiosity about the next video are hugely stimulating and ensure that sessions can last up to several hours.

By selecting the uninteresting videos, the user formally defines his personal limit of nonsense. Implicitly, he experiences a self-appreciation, because he rises above exaggerated excesses of nonsense. The ultimately selected videos have the opposite effect, that one reflects in them one’s own childlike desire for nonsense and is legitimized by the mass success of the videos and the platform as a whole. From this perspective, the avoidable nonsense turns into a sense of the weird, of crazy little things or actions.

On closer inspection, the creativity, passion or courage of the video producers for the various postings is appreciated. Users feel that the “good” videos were partly produced with attention to detail. Active users report that e.g. Do you need to practice, record and edit Lip Sync videos in several hours.

In this way, TikTok serves a completely different creativity than Instagram, where it is about aesthetic stagings, which in turn are oriented towards a successful mass effect. TikTok is about the lived creativity, the fun of making, including the joy of a successful result. While Instagram provides orientation towards your own performances, TikTok can relieve performance pressure and be seen as an encouragement to your own creations.

If TikTok is just as influential for Generation Z as Instagram is for Gen Y, then a freer, less mainstream and more creatively oriented up-and-coming generation could grow up, yet as a matter of course, operates in a fully networked way.

Of course, TikTok is also interesting for brands and advertising because of its reach. The reception constitution of TikTok is open to surprises and therefore also to advertising messages. But brand accounts or challenges can also have a positive effect. The TikTok performances of the Tagesschau make the brand look younger, humorous and approachable. The young users appreciate that the daily show TikTok and the interests of the young people in the first place and actively engage in their world.

Although the users surveyed skip the political debate about TikTok, brands should of course also take this aspect into account in their decision for or against TikTok at a time when attitudes and morals play a major role.


The rheingold expert

Sebastian Buggert

Sebastian Buggert

Sebastian Buggert has a degree in psychology and is a member of the management board at rheingold. His research focuses on trade, the media, and the service and finance industries. He is an expert in the field of digitization and has been intensively involved for a long time with the influences or opportunities of digital change, both for markets and for qualitative market research. Phone: +49 221-912 777-34 E-Mail: buggert@rheingold-online.de