TikTok Newsletter 43

Dear God Please Help Me. LGBTQ+ Social Media Safety. Mediocre and bland

Hello,

this is Understanding TikTok your weekly TikTok snack 🫐. My name is Marcus.
If you are into JournoTok and absolute numbers, Jonathan Kemper took my list of german media companies, applied some Python magic and crawled views, likes, comments and shares. Here it is.

Today we talk about:

🙏 Dear God Please Help Me
🦄 LGBTQ+ Social Media Safety
🐱 Mediocre and bland



🙏 Dear God Please Help Me

The Protestant Church in Cologne, Germany is now using TikTok. I read it in this article (german). The journalist even asked a 14 year old to check the account. Obviously this person was way too polite to tell the truth. While i embrace all attempts by traditional content producers (including representatives of all sorts of religions) to join TikTok the road to hell is still paved with good intentions.

Let´s have a closer look. Learnings here might be helpful not only for servants of god. First things first. Your TikTok videos should of course be 9:16 (vertical phone recording size). But you should avoid keeping any important information or content on the very top or very bottom or right edge of your video, since captions and comment boxes are shown at the bottom and interaction options are placed on the right side. And video thumbnails are shown as 4:5 images, so if you want something to grab viewers’ attention, keep it away from both the top and bottom edges. (Thx Kapwing).

Let´s have an even closer look. I chose this random example from the account. And it just happened to be that i had read the newsletter Good TikTok Creative right before. So i am borrowing a sentence here: “If I was quickly scrolling through my TikTok feed and saw one of these Ray-Ban videos, it wouldn’t be immediately clear to me that the video is from the eyewear brand.”

Well, if i was quickly scrolling through my feed (like every user does) i would associate an old school blackboard and chalk with a school lesson and a hand drawn explainer video with YouTube 2012. While retro-style can be debated the intro not really hooks me in. The narrator says: “Church 2 go asks: What are the first three commandments?” Well, whom are you asking? Me? I guess you already know? Well i am asking myself: Why three? What about the rest? Which one is the coolest, the most important or most incomprehensible?

To cut short: The video does not provide any sort of added value despite the fact that the first three biblical commandments are read while a hand scribbles more or less useful things. The visual layer remains basically the same for more than 30 seconds. There is a typical YouTube visual divider with a short sound used twice that feels out of place and a final screen with a logo that has a YouTube feel again.

The video does not make use of any visual or aural effects, zooms, cuts, edits, camera movement etc. I can not help but wonder if the people responsible for this have even googled the words “church” and “TikTok”. Otherwise they might have found some inspiration here (Meet the TikTok Generation of Televangelists), here (5 Pastors on TikTok Reaching People Beyond Their Churches) or here (Feel Their Faith in 15 Seconds: Meet The Christians Conquering TikTok). Amen.


🦄 LGBTQ+ Social Media Safety

TikTok’s notorious algorithm has been caught circulating anti-LGBTQ+ content, adding to its long track record of homophobic actions, writes them. Quote: A new analysis from progressive media watchdog Media Matters is drawing attention to an uptick in anti-LGBTQ+ content on the platform.

“After we clicked “like” on one anti-LGBTQ video, TikTok almost instantly began recommending more. As we liked similar videos, the “For You” page became progressively tailored to almost exclusively anti-LGBTQ content. In each case, this content was placed on the “For You” page and required no additional searching.” (Media Matters)

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube are “effectively unsafe for LGBTQ users,” according to GLAAD’s inaugural Social Media Safety Index (NBC News). GLAAD writes: “As TikTok continues to make improvements to Community Guidelines, the company must also continue to improve the enforcement of these policies to make the platform safe for LGBTQ users.” (Social Media Safety Index report PDF)

🐱Mediocre and bland

TikTok’s algorithm tends to value aesthetics over content, writes Ryan Broderick in his newsletter Garbage Day. He continues: And I’m not the only person to notice this. Both Vox’s Rebecca Jennings and Insider’s Kat Tenbarge wrote incredibly sharp pieces this week about the blandness and algorithmic mediocrity of TikTok celebrities.

If you have a closer look at the texts you see that both authors do not criticize the protagonists like Charli D’Amelio (“This is not by any means an invitation to bash Charli, who I feel great sympathy for given her age and precarious position in multiple overlapping industries.” Tenbarge) but “it’s more about what we should expect from the people we make famous...TikTok stars, in other words, shouldn’t have to become everything to everyone.” (Jennings)

What else?

Speak soon. Ciao
Marcus