TIKTOK TURNS ONE
Written by Mike Sheley
You may or may not have heard of TikTok, but you have most likely heard of Musical.ly.
Many preteens, teens, and – yes, even youth pastors – have made sing-along videos with Musical.ly. One year ago, in August of 2018, it merged into a new app known as TikTok.
Basically, if you are still not sure what we’re talking about, TikTok is an iOS and Android social media video app for creating and sharing short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos.
These can be either videos of 3 to 15 seconds or looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds. It is one of the most popularly downloaded apps in the world right now.
To catch a glimpse of how they see themselves, check out this description from their about page:
TikTok is the world’s leading destination for short-form mobile videos. Our mission is to capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and moments that matter in everyday life.
TikTok empowers everyone to be a creator directly from their smartphones and is committed to building a community by encouraging users to share their passion and creative expression through their videos.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO YOUTH MINISTRY
There are so many social media options, and tons of things happening online, why does this matter to youth ministry?
Almost half, 41%, of all TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years old! Back when it was Musical.ly, the user-base was a bit younger. But now, those users are growing with the app.
Marketing and technology researchers say, “TikTok is a must-explore marketing platform to engage the Gen Z audience, especially the ones who consume and share more videos than other age groups.”
If we are going to engage this generation, we need to take note of not just where they hang out or live physically, but also in the world of social media. TikTok is a very popular location for them, as you may already know from having one of them show you a video they saw on this network.
You can use TikTok as inspiration for fun programming ideas.
Most videos on TikTok are 15-seconds long, although they can be as long as one minute. So, if you watch for just a few minutes, you can get lots of ideas from fun lip-syncing options to simply funny videos.
You might share one with students to start a conversation or ask what some of their favorite videos are. One youth pastor started researching this and found out that one of his students already has over three million followers!
That’s part of the brilliance of this platform. Because the videos are short and the platform is relatively new, it is easier right now to go viral (over 1 million views) on TikTok more than almost any other platform. You might want to check it out and ask around.
If you have a student with a large following, they could potentially be a great person to help make video content for your ministry. They could also give you tips about how to become a content creator on TikTok.
NOT JUST ENTERTAINMENT
As much as TikTok is used for entertainment, there is also content that is truly inspirational and motivational in very bite-sized pieces.
@findthemap has 1.2 million followers, and its content has been viewed 39.7 million times. One of their top videos shows them handing out pizzas to homeless people with cash and gift cards inside. This would be a great teaching illustration for random acts of kindness or putting love into action.
YOUTH PASTORS AND MINISTRIES
There are youth pastors who are sharing short, 15 – 60-second words of encouragement, challenge, or mini-teachings using TikTok.
Grayson Bearden is doing so and has 326,000 followers and over 4.6 million likes.
Youth ministries have even created accounts to share short highlights from summer camp videos to fun and serious moments in their weekly program.
BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE!
But here is where part of the real value comes in. Most of us don’t want one more piece of content to create or one more video to shoot. However, most of us would love a larger audience and/or increased engagement.
Brock Johnson shares some tips in his 13-minute podcast episode on TikTok. He points out that it is relatively easy to go viral on TikTok without a lot of followers or content. And, since your account can be linked to other social accounts like Instagram and YouTube, you can grow your follower base on those social media channels from those who follow you on TikTok and then check out the links to see more of your content!
If you need a step-by-step guide to TikTok, WikiHow has several options, including one called: “How to Become Popular on TikTok.”
HIT PAUSE: WARNINGS
We also need to familiarize ourselves about TikTok because of some of the problems or dangers with the app and its creators.
In February of this year, the Washington Post reported:
Federal regulators fined social media app Musical.ly — now known as TikTok — $5.7 million for illegally collecting the names, email addresses, pictures and locations of kids under age 13, a record penalty for violations of the nation’s child privacy law.
The app failed to seek parental consent before collecting data at a time when so many users were under thirteen.
According to TikTok, that is no longer happening.
This is just one example of why we need to make sure parents are aware of these apps and the personal information their children may be sharing – without even giving it a thought.
Another observation is the amount of time that can be lost by watching a large amount of these short-form videos.
As we work with students, we need to help them understand responsible use and appropriate time management when it comes to these digital resources.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whether you want to get the word out about your ministry, grow your followers, or just warn parents about what is going on with the apps their kids are using, you would be a wise youth pastor to know a little more about TikTok.