The second week of March came, and Jayson Idelfonso, an undergraduate student, returned from his spring break trip to Amsterdam where he’d learned that classes at Saint Peter’s University were being moved to online to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Like thousands across the country, in the next few days, Idelfonso was confined to being home.
Tik Tok maintains a separate app for the Chinese market called Duyin and has over 300 million active monthly users. The logo of Tik Tok in the United States is a combination of Musical.ly and Duyin logos.
But what is Tik Tok, exactly? The short version: song snippets, special effects and a couple of filters. The more complex version: a new era of video editing in short form and creative space.
During quarantine, Tik Tok has become the third most used app across the world. With Instagram holding the number one spot and Facebook coming in second, Tik Tok follows all the major social media apps.
At 500 million active users and over 80 million downloads, the app is thriving during the pandemic (at least something is).
“The app captures local trends through hashtags and gives you an equal playing field to go viral,” said Idelfonso.
Idelfonso joined the app before quarantine, but didn’t use it as much at the beginning.
“I downloaded the app last year, then I deleted it and redownloaded it as something fun to do with friends,” he said.
His first Tik Tok got 236 views with Chris Brown’s song “Don’t wake me up” in the background and different clips of him under his blanket, symbolizing, well… not wanting to wake up. If 236 views seem like a ton, try 434 thousand views!
A video of the “Savage” challenge dance, set to Megan Thee Stallion’s song, went viral when she reposted the Tik Tok of a fan on her Instagram. Later on, celebrities like Justin Bieber and Jimmy Fallon began showing off their savage dance.
Idelfonso’s savage video got him over 400k views and plot twist, he had his mom standing in the background for a reaction, to which he responded “that’s probably what got me the views, my mom’s facial expressions are known to be funny.”
Idelfonso says he tries to post daily and goes on tik tok to look for inspiration, then making his own video and adding what he thinks will be funny and personalizes it.
In a new social world, this includes dancing challenges, Frozen sing-alongs, or relatable #mood content. Tik Tok has reached the influencer level with the term “Tik Tokers” coming into play.
Now, everyone is a Tik Toker if you’re on the app, but are you influencer level? And what does that even mean?
Like all the platforms that have their run of the mill celebrities, Instagram reigning in for the crown of influencing, Tik Tok brings to you “The Hype House”
Labeled as a content creator collective by the NYTimes, it is a sleek, modern-styled mansion sat at the top of a hill located in Los Angeles. There are a total of 19 members in the house, four who reside in the mansion permanently and others who crash while they’re in town.
The Hype house was formed in December of 2019 by some of Tik Tok’s most influential stars and was designed to be a productivity house where all the members produce a various number of Tik Toks with other members and get their viewership up.
You may have heard of something similar with Jake Paul’s “Team 10” house. There was another instance back in the day when content creators surfaced “02L short for Our Second Life” which was run by YouTubers Kian Lawley and JC Caylen.
Essentially, all the houses built around the same idea, have a group who will produce content to boost ratings and get the hype needed to draw attention from the public and be your own self-made celebrity.
Brian Bates, a former Saint Peter’s University student now attending Pace University, studies film and shares his rise to fame on Tik Tok racking in 53.6 thousand followers with over 1.7 million likes and all still growing.
“I used to post 3 times a day, but then I realized that one did better than the others, so then I just decided to post one really good one daily,” he said.
Bates, a swimmer for his university, started Tik Tok with a large swim following and although he still caters to that following, he has branched off into different content.
His bio on Tik Tok, containing a 4 line, short description of what people may be able to find on his page says “Can’t Swim, 6’1, CEO of Grey sweatpants, 55k pls, Duet Me.”
Bates said he tries to see what people like and creates his content around that. “I'm really trying to collaborate with people, and with the duet feature I want to get on that to see if it’ll get my viewership up.”
As far as making a potential career out of Tik Tok, both Idelfonso and Bates agree that it is very likely because unlike other platforms, the chance of you going viral is 8 out of 10.
Bates said, “Going into the summer, I’ve asked myself what if my following quadruples, and so I’m trying to make connections to keep my following growing, that potentially could lead to something more.”
With his biggest video at over 4 million views, Bates seeks to grow his following and capture the audience as much as he can during this quarantine.
“I have zoom calls with fans and it’s cool to see a whole bunch of people who like my content,” he said
Needless to say, Tik Tok is buzzing during times of crisis and whether you’re making videos of your dog at home or your toosie slide dance challenge, there is room for anything and everyone. Like in Idelfonso’s case, you may have the chance to be reposted by JLO, or in Bate’s case host your own zoom call with your very own fans from all over.