Last summer, I decided to give TikTok a go. I’d downloaded the app a couple of years earlier, but I couldn’t really see what it was for and I quickly deleted it.
This time, somehow, something clicked. It’s an incredibly powerful app, with a suite of easy-to-use tools that makes Instagram look clunky by comparison.
Although the vast majority of TikToks are ‘talking heads’ I wasn’t keen on putting my face out there. I created a handful of ‘typical’ TikToks to begin with. Although I had fun with the frankly bonkers effects, I didn’t want my social media to be about me and soon gave up on this approach.
Each social media platform serves content differently. What sets TikTok apart is that content can reach a wide audience even if you don’t have followers, (neatly reversing the model of other platforms).
When I signed up to TikTok, I knew I didn’t want to grow a following, per se. I’ve put that effort into other platforms with patchy results. If I grow a following on TikTok, that’s okay, but it is not my primary aim.
That might seem counter-intuitive, but it isn’t. TikTok’s algorithm serves TikToks to individual For You Pages (FYP), matching content to that person’s interests. So the TikToks that any user sees on their FYP are not simply comprised of TikToks from TikTok accounts they follow, but includes content from accounts such as mine (that way, matching book-ish people together). Obviously, they hope that we follow each other, but it’s not strictly necessary. It’s this that sets TikTok apart from Twitter, FB or Instagram. In practice, it means that each of my TikToks is pushed out to between 400-600 individual FYPs. Far, far more exposure than anything offered by the other social media platforms I am on.
No platform is perfect and TikTok certainly has its own funny oddities. Every so often, the algorithm seems to reset, and a TikTok would be served only a handful of people.
I have switched off ‘Comments’ on my TikToks, (apart from a handful). However, TikTok rewards engagement. The more engagement, the more it will serve that TikTok to other FYP pages, significantly increasing its exposure. Really, I need to turn the comments on, but, for now, I prefer not having to engage. Each TikTok seems to be pushed out by TikTok for 24 hours. If it hasn’t picked up momentum of its own by then, then TikTok seems to stop serving it.
I now mostly create collages, crafted within the app and carefully constructed from photos on my camera roll. Each lasts ten seconds. I like the challenge of that: of crafting a story within such a tight framework.
I’ve posted several examples below, from self-made book promos, to TikToks on the climate crisis, my new novel Privilege, and research into book four.
If you want to find me on TikTok, I’m Here.