Lessons from one hour on TikTok

You probably already know about TikTok. Most likely you have the app on your phone, or you have seen it pop up as an ad on your social media, or you have heard your friends mention it (or a friend’s kid). Or you are all over it like a shuffle dancer.

I downloaded TikTok an hour ago and it has been surprisingly brilliant for a good laugh and some jaw-dropping, user-created content.

Right now we are collectively social distancing, self isolating, waiting out this Coronavirus pandemic. Like many other people, the current unique situation has granted me with the opportunity, the rare pleasure of extra time. However I should admit that anything new, interesting and detached from the normal and monotonous is welcome right now.

I immediately became a fan of TikTok when I saw this clip from @brentshaw4, well played sir.

@brentshaw4

What it’s like going to the checkout at Aldi in Australia. #howfastcanyougo #aldi

♬ original sound – brentshaw4

And while I am dishing out the TikTok man love I want to give a hearty Aussie shout out to two other blokes that I thoroughly enjoyed during my brief stint. Both of these guys had me laughing out loud, or LOLing.

Farmer and owner of Patrick the alpaca @malleeboy3490 and the hilarious Carl Barron tribute impersonator @boogs007. Both are bloody rippers in my opinion.

Who should Downunder Dad check out on TikTok?

Creativity is king

One thing that is immediately and abundantly clear upon diving into TikTok is the extraordinary creative minds that exist all around us. I am still overwhelmed with admiration for these ingenious content creators. Not the lame try-hard types, but the talented and original stars of TikTok. I cannot get enough of consuming the compelling video snippets that the app offers up. There are endless clips from parkour gurus, dancing fiends, dodgy pranksters, crack-up jokesters, clever impersonators and plenty of fitness freaks. Loads of legendary vision to make you feel completely useless and downtrodden about wasting your life.

Aussie pride is strong

This has undoubtedly been my favourite thing about exploring TikTok, the amount of Australians that are out there just celebrating being Aussie is heart warming. Whether it is riding a surf board behind a horse on a farm, showing us a day in the life of a miner, sheep herding, swearing, camping, sports tricks, barefoot waterskiing on plastic sheeting around an excavator, pouring beers into a fridge dispenser or impersonating Carl Barron – it is absolutely gold… and green.

Carl Barron has been reborn

For whatever reason my TikTok content has seen more than a dozen different people reciting Carl Barron stand up in a sort of unforeseen tribute to the Aussie comedy legend. None better than @boogs007 mentioned above. It has been super fun to revisit the simple genius and insightful gags via an entirely new generation of Aussie fans.

Blokes love dancing

Finally technology has dished up a socially-acceptable excuse for red-blooded males to get together and produce choreographed dance numbers! Isn’t this what we have all been waiting for? It might seem weird if you have not experienced it for yourself, but it is extremely enjoyable watching a bunch of creative and talented blokes bashing out the moves. Overall, TikTok is a wonderful digital global stage for anyone with viscous dance skills to get some love and admiration (and no doubt also trolled negativity from the haters!)

I can’t dance

OK, I admit it. I tried some moves, it was hard to resist. And it was scary, very ugly stuff. I couldn’t dance for shit when I was 21 let alone 41, hahaha! Not really a lesson here, more a reinforcement of a fact I already knew, all too well. Nevertheless, good luck to all the youngsters out there making everything all look so easy while simultaneously making me feel so old. They are living their best lives, I suppose, with their trending and duets and cringes and shuffling.

Volume speaks volumes

The numbers alone fascinate me no end. TikTok videos shot on a simple iPhone getting over 30,000,000 views. Everyday Aussies with TikTok accounts that have over 500,000 followers. Or even just the fact that I quickly found twelve users which I deemed quality enough to follow from my account in under an hour via the insightful TikTok algorithm. I can only imagine the dollars involved, more on that later.


The other weird lesson I learned is that sometimes it is hard to gauge what makes something popular. Whether it is an app like TikTok itself, certain users on TikTok or even specific content on TikTok. Well actually sometimes it is blatantly obvious what makes some users or content popular, I’ll use the gorgeous @itshildeee as an example below. But generally, it is most likely a perfect storm of innovation, timing, persistence and luck.

TikTok have been pushing their mainstream app quite hard via social media advertising for over a year now, I know this from personal experience. I have been inadvertently exposed to a plethora of their annoying ads. I knew about the existence of the app, long before I tried it. And now with some idea about what makes TikTok tick, it is difficult to pinpoint why exactly it is successful.

What is it about TikTok that differentiates it from the other internet noise, app store crowds and social media jungle inhabitants? I went digging, I wanted answers. It turns out a major reason why TikTok exploded has to do with its origin story.

I went digging, I wanted answers. It turns out a major reason why TikTok exploded has to do with its origin story…

Essentially I learned that TikTok is Chinese. Along with a strong pop cultural alignment, the censorship laws and the planet’s largest national population the uptake in China proved a strong springboard. By the time TikTok emerged and evolved it was extremely widespread and adopted, a growth path undertaken dissimilarly to US spawned tech gorillas like Facebook, Google, Twitter or Amazon.

TikTok content inspires and amazes… sometimes! (Photo by Lennart Wittstock on Pexels.com)

TikTok’s rapid growth had it climbing to seventh on the list of most-downloaded apps of the decade spanning 2010-2019, and it was not even released until 2017.


“…users can choose background music from a wide variety of music genres, edit with a filter and record a 15-second video with speed adjustments before uploading it to share with others on TikTok or other social platforms. They can also film short lip-sync videos to popular songs.” – Wikipedia


After diving in, consuming content, laughing my ass off and sharing other people’s work both IRL and via my phone I felt obligated to… you guessed it… have a crack. So I am going to make ONE TikTok video, and see what happens.

Well I had a good crack, but all results were super lame and not worth sharing.


An hour of TikTok was entertaining. I loved the creativity above all else, clever and talented people being clever and talented. Whenever I consume any form of entertainment I want to feel it is worth my time, something exceptional that I could not produce myself.

The short and sharp format creates variety and a fast-paced user experience.

However, the main lesson I learned after an hour of TikTok and after writing this blog post is that advertising and monetisation ruins all social media eventually. Once the aforementioned user-experience is interrupted and tampered with, things will unravel.

I loved the creativity above all else, clever and talented people being clever and talented.

The other historically-proven, detrimental and damaging aspect that will be the downfall of TikTok is the presence of pesky grown-ups. Even I noticed it has started, in fact I am probably proof. Once the adults get their fingerprints on TikTok the kids will start congregating around the next shiny app. Whatever it is that is fun, social and unknown by annoying 40-somethings just like me.


Downunder Dad: Independent and always ad-free undefined


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