Vine might be dead, but short form videos continue to rise in popularity. What’s so addicting about the videos on TikTok?
When a new user first downloads the TikTok app, the user is shown a series of introductory video previews before the app displays its home page.
TikTok’s home page, or “For You” page, encourages user interaction much more directly than the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. Its deliberate lack of negative space ensures that the video will play continuously as long as the user keeps the app open. Users can skip videos by scrolling downward.
If a user switches to TikTok’s discover page, the app displays a grid of popular videos without sound alongside video playlists which contain similar categories of posts. After the user clicks on a video or playlist in order to hear its sound, TikTok reverts to playing continuous video.
The way TikTok encourages its users to stream content feels almost invasive. In order to take a break from streaming, the user must exit the app, or the video will play on loop.
TikTok’s constant streaming tactic ensures that scrolling through the app must be the user’s priority. It discourages distraction and captivates the viewer.
Perhaps the most addicting feature TikTok employs is the ability to link videos together using the same pre-existing audio in different contexts. For example, one video may show a 9-year-old girl lip syncing to original audio from “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” while the next may show a 30-year-old man mocking the same audio clip.
The viral popularity of a certain audio clip influences the user’s perception of each video containing that audio. TikTok makes it entirely possible for one viral video from a separate social media platform to be transformed into thousands of viral TikToks using the same audio.
At the same time, each user who posts a video on the app containing a viral audio clip knows the video will be added to the continuous list of similar TikToks.
TikTok creates its own culture by grouping videos together in audibly identical playlists. The playlists allow trends to be created, watched and recreated infinitely.
Though the app is designed to benefit from external social trends, trends created on TikTok have now begun to spring up across various social platforms.
Trends help people feel as if they are part of a group. Trends become more popular as they gain momentum, and TikTok’s loop video strategy ensures they will.
In turn, TikTok users who share the app’s trends on Instagram and Twitter encourage those without the app to download it in order to feel a sense of belonging.
TikTok’s dual ability to create and drive trends makes the app more addicting than most major social media platforms.