4 surprising ways young people are using TikTok
From astronomy to zoology, songwriting to real estate, TikTok has evolved into a platform not only for entertainment but refreshingly relevant learning. The impact of the pandemic has been a challenging time for many school leavers and university graduates and many have been turning to TikTok’s career-focused content with creators offering résumé and career advice. TikTok is now in talks to launch a job site through the platform targeted for Gen Z where applicants will submit applications by video. More practical life hacks, tutorials, motivational tips and advice can all be found on #LearnOnTikTok. With the hashtag currently having over 111 billion views, we can see the sheer outreach and demand for this type of entertaining and educational content. Following the success of the hashtag, TikTok launched the #DidYouKnow campaign, encouraging users to share the most surprising and unexpected things they have learnt on the social media platform, aiming to celebrate this community of learning.
CONNECTING TO THE ANALOGUE WORLD
#BookTok is another trend made popular by TikTok users. With the increased digitisation of life, as well as a demand for new media, many young people have embraced books to escape, educate and reconnect to an analogue medium. Gen Z is using the platform to share their book recommendations and leaving their own reviews. BookTok tends to centre around young adult fiction and has revitalised childhood favourites such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, garnering a collective sense of nostalgia. Typewriters, extensive book collections with colour coordinated bookshelves are all part of the romanticised aesthetic of BookTok. Bookstores are now even jumping on the bandwagon. Barnes & Noble now have a page on their website dedicated to the most popular books on TikTok and their American stores have introduced assigned #BookTok Made Me Buy It sections to display novels that have gone viral on the platform.
SAVING THE WORLD IN SECONDS
Whilst TikTok may be best known for its dance challenges and funny memes, it also provides a platform for real-world activism and political action. From climate change to skin positivity, activists use TikTok’s fast-paced content stream to educate and inspire their audiences. Young eco-activists have formed a community (known as EcoTok) to spread awareness about environmental issues, from waste reduction to marine conservation. They transform these complex topics into snappy viral clips, helping to mobilise people via shareable, easily digestible content. Similarly, slow fashion influencers are responding to the push-back against hyper-consumerism, weekly clothing hauls, and mass consumption of disposable garments. Mathilde Mellor is one of the creators exploring this space, sharing pieces she finds in vintage stores or from sustainable brands. Another group of Gen Z activists are the skin positivity influencers. They are using TikTok videos as an antidote to the picture-perfect Instagram feed, to embrace realness and spread messages about skin positivity, with the aim of destigmatising acne and educating people about skin health. Last March, the #myskinandme campaign that enlisted influencers to post unfiltered photos of their acne received 5.7 billion views.
TikTok style influencers are steering trends and influencing fashion in a way that brands’ meticulously curated campaigns can’t. The Gen Z audience is inspired by the authenticity, free expression and unfiltered content of fashion content creators. Social-born aesthetics have evolved into TikTok Style Tribes, with unexpected and unique aesthetics becoming viral sensations that captivate Gen Z audiences. Gen Z’s experimentation with various visuals and identities have formed microcosms, otherwise known as “-cores”. Cottagecore, Kidcore, Goblincore and Clowncore are just a handful of these Style Tribes, which whilst extremely niche, are also surprisingly inclusive, offering tutorials for people to align themselves with their chosen aesthetic. TikTok provides a space for individuals to instantly connect to like-minded people, and it has become a hub for digital exploration of visual styles and fashion, without fear of judgement for not adhering to visual homogeny.