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TikTok gives YouTube the elbow

Stair shuffling and eating fingers? It can only be found on one app

It’s the Chinese video app that’s the talk of playgrounds everywhere. TikTok ramped up marketing activity in Britain at the end of 2018, but way before this our and Trendspotter kids were hooked.

We reported back in the autumn that buzz was building around the TikTok app, which enables kids to watch, make and share short-form videos, from lip-synching to challenges. Going upstairs in the normal way is so dull when you can #StairShuffle; and mimicking Little Mix in the #WomanLikeMe challenge while balancing books on your head is a great way to use up five minutes. Where else would a viral trend for ‘eating your own fingers’ (camera trick only, phew) take off?

Kids love the challenges on the TikTok app. Credit: South China Morning Post
Kids love the challenges on the TikTok app

Week after week, our Trendspotter kids tell us everything from how they’re using the app to which TikTok meme they’re loving right now. We’ve even found TikTok was commanding kids’ attention at the expense of firm favourite YouTube.

Pinpointing the trends before they happen means we can boost and engage our audience. Our on-site personality quiz What Type of TikTok Videos Should You Make? has a huge 90% completion rate, helping boost our super user score (kids who return to of their own accord) to a record high in January 2019.

What is TikTok?

Unless you’ve been on a wi-fi-less retreat for the past three months, you’ll have heard the name. But here’s a bit of background in case.

The app launched in 2016 as Douyin, by Chinese company ByteDance. The tech giant then bought the app and combined the two under the name Tik Tok. Today, the app claims to have more than 250 million daily active users, and is available in 75 languages, in 150 countries and regions.

The Tik Tok app offers the user the ability to create short clips of up to 60 seconds long, such as lip-synching to pop music or soundbites, and to add special effects to them.

How safe is TikTok for kids?

Well, the age limit for TikTok is restricted to under 13s, with under 18s needing parental approval to join. But we know from our audience that it’s a magnet for underage users (come on, it’s a one-stop shop for lip-synching animals to pranks and ridiculous challenges, all the things kids love).

By default all TikTok accounts are public so anyone on the app can see what a user shares. Activating privacy settings is a must for kids. Not all content is suitable for under 13s but there is a restricted mode to filter out inappropriate videos.

Users of the app are also at risk of being targeted by trolls posting compilations of lip-synch ‘fails’ on You Tube and inviting people to mock them – this seems to be spreading the TIk Tok app’s popularity and increasing downloads.

While privacy settings filter out such problems, as kids strive for more followers they may push back against boundaries. Parents sharing accounts with their kids and educating them on safe ways to use the app is key.

Tik Tok: what’s next?

Last month (January 2019) ByteDance announced a launch of a new social media product under its Douyin brand, prompting speculation that Tik Tok could rival Chinese go-to app WeChat.

The new ByteDance launch Duoshan is a mix of Tik Tok and Snapchat and is built for private messaging, gearing up for the age of 5G where kids prefer to send short-form videos to communicate.

Private messaging is at the core of the WeChat app, owned by Tencent, and known as ‘China’s app for everything’ due to its huge range of platforms and functions. WeChat is one of the world's largest standalone mobile apps, reported to have a billion monthly active users, mostly in China. The company has launched multiple video apps over the past year.

So 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Chinese tech – but how will this impact the UK kids’ market? Will Facebook’s soft launch Lasso make any impression on kids at all? Can YouTube regain the lion’s share of our kids’ attention? (Probably, or we’ll eat our own fingers.)

Keep tabs by signing up to Bang on Trend at – the only fortnightly report that focuses on kids’ trends right now.

How Beano for Brands can help your marketing strategy

Beano for Brands is a kid-first consultancy and agency for brands seeking to connect with a new generation who are already rewriting the rules of engagement, creativity and even the world around them.

Our fortnightly reports are drawn from a wide range of touch points with real kids and families: Trendspotters (a UK-wide panel aged 9-12), insight and analytics from – the UK’s fastest-growing kids’ site, external research and 80 years of working with kids.

Pssst if you don't already get our FREE monthly newsletter updating you on the latest kids' insight, trends and industry news, click here. ​


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