Why does TikTok have such a big influence?


Solen Feyissa

With TikTok being a hub for content circulating the media, many students wonder what impact this is having on them.

Chances are if you were online at all during the start of the pandemic that is COVID-19, then you are almost certainly familiar with the platform TikTok. Being a global hub for celebrities, comedy, trends, and music, TikTok has become one of the most used social media platforms with billions of members constantly scrolling and producing content. For this reason, TikTok has become one of the largest influences on fashion, music, and other trends that circulate the web.

“TikTok has been helpful in terms of promoting smaller artists’ music,” freshman Frank Cenicola said. “There have been many songs I have heard on TikTok long before ever hearing them on the radio.”

For those who are interested in music, it’s possible that you discovered a good portion of your playlist this year on TikTok, with millions of audios being used on viral videos daily. A look at the Spotify “Global Top 50” playlist reveals that the current holder of spot one in the world is “abcdefu” by GAYLE. For those unfamiliar, the chorus of the song probably rings a bell, considering the 1.5 million videos created using this song, with thousands of others using variations of the audio. It’s not a coincidence that this 17-year-old artist was capable of generating so much traction on her own after releasing a snippet of the now-viral audio to TikTok.

“The TikTok algorithm does a good job at catering content to the individual watching, and in my case the suggestions TikTok provides are enjoyable,” sophomore Stephon Melson said. “For this reason, I would say that I find the videos to be more real, and in turn, more relatable.”

The reason TikTok is so capable of pulling in viewers and creating such influential moments is because of the algorithm’s ability to filter each user into a niche. There are many unofficial subcategories of TikTok, which have coined terms such as “BookTok” or “FrogTok”, based on the content that you like and interact with, which makes the videos more filtered to your liking. With that in mind, users are able to find very specific things they like through TikTok, such as singing, dancing, etc. This relatability makes it especially easy to create microtrends or sell a certain lifestyle to viewers that will promote certain trends further.

Freshmen Keira Tiwari and Nina Menozi filming a TikTok, both agree they participate in trends they find funny. (Kayla Arnst)

“I think the key to making a successful trend on TikTok is definitely just creating something that everyone can universally like or appreciate,” freshman Aseel Ouri explained. “If people consider it to be ‘hip and cool’ it will eventually turn into a trend.”

For example, the “That Girl” trend that became popular on TikTok describes a girl that will wake up at five in the morning to go for a run, eat a fruit parfait for breakfast, and has a trendy wardrobe. In other words, the “That Girl” trend sells a lifestyle that gives the illusion of being put together. This trend arose on TikTok through videos selling the dream, with many celebrities being involved. It is trendy because of the idea that life would be perfect if only you could be That Girl.

In summary, TikTok’s ability to narrow down an audience and produce either relatable, authentic, or romanticized content is its key to creating an influential and trendsetting hub. The music and fashion industry are forever changed by this digital era, and the changes being made to advertising are already evident. It is no longer surprising to see high-profile celebrities making viral dance videos, or seeing stars who rose to fame on TikTok now making their way into red carpet events.