Free entertainment for a steep price

Ever been on TikTok? How many hours do you scroll per day? Do you personally know anyone who is “TikTok famous”?


After spending 30 days on the TikTok app, I can see why children, tweens and teens want to be part of the crowd.


I downloaded the TikTok app this year to see what the hype was about. I opened the app, agreed to give up my privacy and I immediately saw the celebrity, Will Smith, performing a skit for the “Wipe It down” challenge.


I didn’t need to make an account. I could scroll and the app would show me similar, funny skits forever. Literally, forever. There’s no refreshing the feed. You don’t follow a certain number of accounts. You just open the app and join 500 million other users who are entertained by the creative crowd.


The TikToks are short videos with one or more people dancing, lip synching, drawing, joke-telling, pranking, cooking, teaching, singing, hobby-making, and anything else you could possibly imagine.


Some TikTokers post 60-second videos with emotion-stirring music in the background, setting the tone as they share their personal story. These stories often reveal a deep psychological or physical pain, like a broken heart, a lost loved one, or other hardship. 


An interesting part of the TikTok videos is the way stories are told. Most of the stories are communicated through music with short bits of text appearing on the screen. TikTokers create their narrative, creatively, with music and short text.


After 10 minutes of scrolling, I thought, Why not try it. I was learning digital marketing and wanted to test Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice of how to build an audience quickly on TikTok.


I made an account for my kitten, Elvis.


Vaynerchuk’s advice is to post daily and multiple times. This turned out to be a chore. 


I followed my kitten all over the house. I waited for him to do something cute or funny hoping to catch it on camera. I uploaded the video to TikTok and scrolled through hundreds of songs until I found the perfect music to complement my kitten’s cuteness.


This took me about an hour every day and I posted on average 2 times a day.


In 30 days none of my videos went “viral.” I racked up thousands of hearts and dozens of positive comments, but never any shares. That’s not to say that if I had stayed on the platform longer eventually one of Elvis’s posts might have gone viral. I think that’s the desire for many teens who post every day hoping to get famous.


Vaynerchuk has often said ”The creative is the variable for success.” This statement is 100% true if you want to make it on TikTok. You have to be engaging, talented, funny, cute, original, quirky, or helpful to create some kind of value to keep users staring at their screen.


If you have “it” then the algorithm will boost your content to more user’s pages where they will see your video, and possibly tap the heart or the share button, boosting you more frequently in the feed.


If you rack up over 500,000 followers you could make a decent amount of money. It’s not uncommon for a user to gain thousands of followers after a single viral post.


Followers can donate coins that turn into diamonds that you can cash in on PayPal. You can even go “Live” and entertain followers who donate coins, like tossing coins into a street performer’s case.


This is a fast paced app, where Chipotle, Oreo, Apple, Samsung, and a host of other products and services are advertising, and reaping rewards, from the attention of the masses. With an account of 500,000+ followers there’s plenty of room to make a lot of money.


But only a tiny percent of TikTokers are actually making money.


Most will pay the steep price of less sleep, less energy, little focus and exhaustion for those hours and hours of scrolling.


TikTok is after your attention. And your attention is worth time and money.


There’s no mistaking the addictive properties of the TikTok app and I would advise parents to think twice, do some research, and have a lengthy conversation before allowing their child or teen to download the app.


Elvis gained 1300 followers in a mere 30 days. My creativity and his cuteness had me seriously thinking up a business plan to cash in on his quick start fame. Luckily, before delusion set in, I deleted the app.

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