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A response in defence of TikTok’s ‘Brave New World’

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

The Media Leader recently posted a review by Jack Benjamin of TikTok’s Summit, in response, our Content Director Alex Moore argues back in defence of TikTok and their ‘Brave New World’.

If 20-somethings are spending their evenings not with Big Brother, or Succession, but with hours of TikTok as their entertainment, who are we as marketers to decide that that is not a worthy use of time?

The nature of how the app is built is fundamentally different to more traditional social, it’s entertainment first rather than connection first.

Of course, the barrier of entry to produce social content (a phone) can equate to low standards in quality, but equally, there are incredible creators and storytellers across these platforms making incredibly slick professional work every day.

They have to, it’s quite literally their job now.

We must lean in

I wasn’t at the TikTok Summit last month, and enjoy TikTok in small doses myself, but I can appreciate that if as many people enjoy it as they do, and use it much as they do, then that’s something to lean into as a marketer.

The Media Leader’s review mentioned the event began to feel “cultish” but had not downloaded TikTok. I wonder you would’ve thought a Harry Styles concert was ‘cultish’ if you found yourself at Wembley this summer as he sang to over 360,000 people had you never listened to Harry Styles? And whether that feeling would presume any less of the devoted crowd there enjoying themselves and hanging off his every word?

If the Sidemen were formed today, and built a community on TikTok rather than YouTube, would we diminish efforts because they used iPhones to film raw, scrappy, real content?

I wonder whether that same attitude would exist years later, when one of their energy drinks was sponsoring primetime boxing events in Vegas, selling their trading cards sold alongside newspapers in every Tesco across the country or as they were opening their third brick-and-mortar chicken shop in Dalston (which at the time of writing there is an overnight queue forming at)?

Technology’s popularity is not always a measure of its quality.

Twitter/X remains a potent force for news and opinion despite its contentious nature (and Elon), media professionals still regularly buy ads across the Daily Mail despite their often own staunch left-leaning identities.

I don’t imagine that TikTok will make a fan out of you anytime soon Jack, but I think it’s fine to say you just don’t fancy it rather than talking down to the upwards of 23 UK users that probably really do.

We can’t lose our child-like curiosity

I’m in my thirties now, and if TikTok is soma for a younger generation, I guess my soma was Myspace, Facebook and then Instagram. But I still read books, eat out, go to the theatre and watch bands and I don’t think those digital experiences and communities have left me non compos mentis, or with an inability to appreciate art.

As Aldous Huxley also writes in Brave New World: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

I think it’s important to maintain a positive child-like curiosity and intrigue with emerging platforms and technology. It may be uncharted territory but what do we have to lose?

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