Platform updates may be rooted in tech, but they impact the experience of brands and users alike in terms of the tools they use, the culture they exist in and the creativity that rises to the top.

In our first iteration of Platform Perspectives, we take three different angles on TikTok’s latest update ‘TikTok Tips’ – an official TikTok account featuring well-known influencers promoting positive messages about safety, privacy and well-being on social.

Platform Perspective: Andy Volosky, Account Manager and TikTok Platform Lead, We Are Social New York

“The main play for TikTok here is showing that this is part of a larger strategy toward promoting positivity and fighting these issues.”

The biggest trend across the internet the last five years, but especially recently, has been in regards to mental health and the negative aspects of online spaces. As a platform that caters to a younger audience, TikTok needs to show that it takes the issues of harassment and bullying seriously and that they’re trying to tackle these head-on, on their still-emerging platform. @TikTokTips looks to be the first part of hopefully a bigger move in that direction.

All things considered, it’s a small update, especially when you compare it to possible UI/UX updates that other platforms have rolled out in the past. But the main play for TikTok here is showing that this is part of a larger strategy toward promoting positivity and fighting these issues. If they do this effectively, they can set themselves as the industry-leader while their platform is still in its (relative) infancy – as other platforms play catch-up, this likely wouldn’t be a bad thing

As with any platform and brand, keep in mind exactly what your goal is for being on the platform. You can’t just tell your audience that you care about the same issues as they do, but you have to continually show them in order to make an impact. Rally your audience, and they’ll reward you in turn.

Creative Perspective: Ryan Engelbert, Creative Director, We Are Social New York

“This update seems to be more of a due diligence effort than something that’s going to curb any creative thinking.”

With the recent rise of fake TikToks (a.k.a. FikFoks), the new privacy update could stop potential fikfokers™©® from going on a completely separate creative route and instead use the platform’s privacy settings to select who can see their more abstract Yoko-Ono-scream-singing-esque content. Conversely, the positive vibes update may invite some creators from different verticals into the TikTok mix looking to saddle up beside the lip-syncing challenges and boost “positivity” to the top of the trends list.

The creativity-o-meter shouldn’t move much at all in either direction. This update seems to be more of a due diligence effort than something that’s going to curb any creative thinking. Privacy is a loaded topic now more than ever – this is simply scrutiny security. On the positive vibes front, however, TikTok could have blown the door wide open in terms of a new creative purpose – from hashtag challenges paired with earworm songs to a more mindful territory. Perhaps brands like Calm and Headspace have a unique entry point here. Though other brands need to tread lightly when preaching less screen time on one platform and blasting out daily 23-frame IG Stories on the next.

There may be more creative opportunities in the execution of the rollout of this update than the update itself. The move to get influencers who are highly active on the platform to be the faces of the recent updates is an interesting approach. Not a revelatory one for brands already using influencers to raise awareness for their campaigns, but a distinct approach in this context nonetheless. Though privacy transparency using trusted faces is certainly something brazen brands that are looking to temper user privacy concerns can jot down in their idea journal.

Cultural Perspective: Lore Oxford, Global Head of Cultural Insights, We Are Social

“TikTok has provided a space for people to be imperfect online – to be human. So it makes sense that the platform is leaning into the healthier social usage space.”

One of the questions we’re often asked as an agency is what makes TikTok different from platforms like Vine. Why is it succeeding where Vine didn’t? And one of the main differences, I believe, is the maturity of the social media landscape it’s been launched into. Vine rose to fame prior to Instagram’s ubiquity, and it shows. While it was also a short-form video platform, what users filled the space with was very different – many of the major players were using it to create pretty polished comedy bits. It felt more scripted, more finished. 

By comparison, TikTok has launched into an era of perfection fatigue. The universal usage of Instagram has supercharged narratives around the damaging effects of social media – people are tired of constantly feeling the pressure to look and behave a certain way online. Against that backdrop, TikTok has provided a space for people to be imperfect – to be human. In this sense, the timing of the app’s rise to fame couldn’t really be better. 

It’s because of this social and cultural context that ‘cringe’ content is among its most famous – from people dancing in public (with bemused strangers filming them) to bloopers from gone-wrong challenge attempts. Given that the platform’s popularity is at least partially down to narratives around how to be happier on social media, it makes sense that it’s leaning into this space with @TikTokTips.