TikTok Newsletter 48

Study: TikTok for Political Communication. 180 seconds. Fashion Influencer.


This is Understanding TikTok – your weekly TikTok update. My name is Marcus.

I wrote about young female influencers in Egypt being arrested last week (#47).
Human Rights Watch has more: Egypt Persecutes TikTok Women While Men Get Impunity for Sexual Violence.

I wrote about the so called 🕌 “TikTok Intifada” (#42). There are two new articles observing Mockery as a Tool of Palestinian Resistance on TikTok (MDC) and Israeli military’s TikTok attempt to make propaganda cool (Al Jazeera). As always: Check who wrote what. 

This week we talk about:

✍️ Study: TikTok for Political Communication
⌚ 180 seconds
👘 Fashion Influencer

✍️ Study: TikTok for Political Communication

The study on TikTok as a tool for political communication by Chris Köver and me got published last week. You can get a PDF here (german). You can see and hear Chris present it together with Tanja who wrote a study on Instagram on the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation YouTube channel (german) or hear me talk about it on Deutschlandfunk Kultur (german) 📻. 

The study starts with a basic explanation of TikTok. We cover censorship and analyze strategies for success. The core part of the study is an analytical framework (including amongst others four design elements) that helps to deconstruct why some accounts win and others lose, followed by an overview of leftwing creators in Germany. We conclude with a bunch of recommendations and strongly advice to increase your TikTok-literacy. 

⌚ 180 seconds

I manually updated TikTok on my way back home after lunch. Videos can be 3 minutes long now. After having tested the feature in the last couple of months TikTok rolled it out to all. The platform is embracing longer videos after the initial 15 and 60 seconds time limit (Techcrunch). By the way Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) already has videos up to 15 minutes long, Chris Stokel-Walker points out in this Twitter thread.

TikTok says that creators asked for longer videos for tutorials, cooking demos or educational content. And while this is true for sure there are some more strategic considerations behind the decision. TikTok wants to be on the big screens too. I wrote about 📺 TikTok TV (#25) on Samsung Smart TVs and in February 2021 TikTok on Google TV and Android TV was introduced. TikTok content is likely to feel a bit more like YouTube. Or as Taylor Lorenz wrote: “Top creators like Charli D’Amelio and Michael Le have transitioned away from dancing toward more vlogging and YouTube-style content.” Of course longer videos means more time for ads too.

Here is Chris’ take: “Do I think TikTok will succeed in shifting people to longer form video? Yes. Do I think it’s still a significant risk they’re taking? Yes.”

We are currently moving into a new TikTok phase. And i have no exact idea how users will embrace the feature. I am well aware that there is constant and dramatic change in the game, but i very much like the short and sweet strange stuff. On the other hand 3 minutes means that you can get a glass of milk (0:23) and watch the entire Sonic Youth Providence video (2:37). We’ll see. I am happy if you point me to your favourite 3 minute TikTok video 👉 📧.

👘 Fashion Influencer

Refinery29 has a nice article on the ever changing and evolving fashion influencer. Starting with Style Rookie Tavi Gevinson in 2012 (that is her Insta in 2021) the article takes us to the present where a different archetype of influencer — less of a vessel, more of a critic, if you will — is also emerging on the platform, where personality moves the algorithm more than a pretty filter or sponsorships ever will.”

A perfect example is Agus Panzoni (@thealgorythm). Quote: The magic formula has been to bring her behind-the-scenes knowledge of trend forecasting to the app through video series helping people navigate fashion trends and their cultural significance. Here TikTok's motto is “I find things you like”. Her content: raw, opinionated, often funny.

What else?

📍Radical relatability and extreme authenticity are two trends in YouTube’s Culture & Trends Report: The future of video. Maybe they are suited to enhance the blurry 2020 Realness-term attached to especially Nathan Apodaca who by the way has his own Alcoholic Cranberry Drink now.

📍 Want to learn the secrets of using TikTok for journalism from @BBCWorld ’s @sophiasgaler ? Watch her #FJAssembly session https://buff.ly/360qMAI

📍 You remember the Boomer Emoji story (#29)? Well, have a look here: Emojis in public diplomacy...

📍 Charli & Dixie designed a mattress for creators. Yes. They did.

📍 Church + TikTok. How does that go? Sometimes it does not. Compare 🙏 Dear God Please Help Me (#43). Sometimes it does. Here is a Twitter thread by a german pastor and her experiences.

They say you should end each newsletter with a clear call to action. Here it is. Please recommend this newsletter to a cool person you know. Thx. 🙌