My name is Emily and I’m addicted to TikTok…

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About a month ago I was off work sick spending the day in bed scrolling through social media when I came across a compilation of funny videos with the source listed as ‘TikTok’. At this point I’d never heard of this app but having exhausted all of my social media already and needing more of a distraction from my illness, I decided to download it and see what it was all about.

At first I was apprehensive and it seemed like the whole app was just a bunch of pre teens lip syncing or dancing to random songs and the odd funny dog video. But the more I scrolled through the app the more I realised there was actually a wide range of content on it from all ages and I found myself enjoying the short funny videos. In fact it was quite refreshing compared to the usual scrolling through pictures on Instagram or watching long YouTube videos. Now here I am a month or so later and I’m officially addicted, and I’ve got loads of my friends hooked on it as well.

I’m so addicted to it that its now my most used app on my phone with the screen time tracker telling me I now spend an average of one hour per day on it compared to just 20 minutes on Instagram and fifteen minutes on twitter. Then recently I watched a TikTok that said the app recently passed 1 billion users worldwide and it got me wondering, where did this app come from and how has it got so popular so quickly?

I did some research and found out that TikTok came about due to a merger between the Chinese app Douyin (branded TikTok for the western world) and the app Music.ly which became popular in 2016 and was an app where users could create short 1 minute lip syncing music videos.  Then when Bytedance, the owners of Douyin, bought Music.ly in November 2017, they realised they could easily expand into the US teen market which was already dominated by Music.ly.

The ‘new’ TikTok however, is a lot more than just music videos with users uploading a wide range of content including prank videos, storytimes, cooking videos, life hacks and comedy re-enactments – all under one minute each.

The growing popularity of this app, not just among  a teenage audience but expanding into young adults and beyond, shows the shift in how we like to engage in social media content as a society. We like short, to the point, varied content that we don’t have to read. That’s the beauty of TikTok, its very easy to consume, the app automatically sends you a feed of videos on your ‘For You’ page that are popular on that day in your area and it also learns what type of content you enjoy based on the videos you like and the accounts you chose to follow.

According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, TikTok ranked third in the world in November 2018 for the amount of downloads and the app was downloaded more than 104 million times on Apple’s App store during the full first half of 2018.

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Celebrities are getting involved now and there are even some users considered ‘TikTok’ famous with millions of followers now organising meet and greets and doing paid sponsored posts. I’ve now started to see it all over LinkedIn where everyone is saying that ‘TikTok must be a part of your marketing strategy’ and I’m starting to think we may have another Vine on our hands and TikTok could just be another social media app with a very short lifespan.

I think that if suddenly TikTok is just saturated with paid content and sponsored posts, people will lose interest and trust in the people they’re following.  I mean I’ve only been on it a month and even in the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed an influx of ads in between the videos! The ads are easy to scroll past but it is frustrating especially because the complete lack of ads and sponsored videos is what made it so easy appealing when I first joined the app. But I suppose with such growing popularity, its not surprising that brands are taking advantage of the app but I am very intrigued to see how the app grows in the coming months and whether or not it will last.

Source: The Incredible Rise of TikTok – [TikTok Growth Visualization] – influencermarketinghub.com

Emily Spackman McKee is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter @_spackman and LinkedIn Emily Spackman McKee 

 

Following in Dad’s footsteps – how did I end up here?

From the ages of 12 to 16, if you’d asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer certainly would’ve changed depending on my mood. Whether it was a barrister, a pathologist, or a translator, I pretty much wanted to be everything under the sun at one point or another. But one thing that stayed consistent was that I had absolutely no interest in following in my parents’ footsteps and becoming a civil servant or going in to marketing.

I just always had the mentality that following in your parents’ footsteps would somehow take away from your own individuality – something that was very important to me. So, how is it then that 5 years later I’m embarking on the final year of my CAM degree and currently working as a marketing assistant?

Again, it wasn’t just that I woke up one day and decided to copy my dad and go on to study marketing, it was a very unconventional and at times very difficult path that brought me to where I am today. I’ll begin with September 2014, aged 16 and just starting lower sixth studying French, Irish, Maths and History, not anywhere close to the subjects you would expect a future CAM student to study, right? Well as I said I couldn’t decide on a specific career path before picking A Levels so with the idea that a lot of degree courses don’t expect specific subjects, I decided the safest option would be to go for the ones I enjoyed most.

But, week one of lower sixth comes to an end and my whole life changed. On Friday 5th September 2014, my dad suffered a massive stroke that initially left him with a 30% chance of survival, complete right side paralysis and global aphasia*. We were told that our whole lives would have to change and that my dad would be left in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, never speak again and would need 24/7 care. Being the optimists that we are, we took this with a pinch of salt and kept focusing on him making a full recovery (side note – five years on he is walking, driving and even has limited speech). We did however, know that this was going to take a lot of time, effort and money from the whole family. With my mum and sister both working full time, I even considered  leaving school to care for him but after lots of discussions, I realised that as an educator, my dad would never have accepted this. We decided we had to keep everything as normal as possible because after all, our lives had changed enough – I was going to stay in school, my mum and sister were going to stay in work and we were all going to take on the responsibility of caring for my dad and taking turns with the everyday responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, shopping etc.

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This was of course very difficult and I could write an entire book on that story alone but alas we are talking about my path to marketing. During the mid-term break over Halloween, all lower sixth students had to embark on a week’s work experience, not having time to apply for work experience myself because my dad was still in hospital gravely ill, I reached out to two of my dad’s friends who worked in PR and Graphic Design to ask if they could take me on for a couple of days. They were of course willing to do anything possible to help and so began my journey into this industry.

I spent the first three days of the week shadowing Joanne McNeill at her PR agency, McNeill Communications – at this point I had zero idea what PR actually meant, apart from knowing that some of my friends did PR for Thompsons and Filthys. I did know that it was along the same lines as marketing and had therefore decided that although this experience wouldn’t help me in my career, it would be nice to get a few days away from school and the hospital. Within the first few hours of shadowing Joanne, my mind had been completely changed. We had been working on launch events and planning for a Red Bull event and it all seemed like the most interesting work in the world – I hadn’t enjoyed myself so much in a long time. The last two days of the week were spent with Mark Mulholland at Whitenoise Designs and although we both knew for certain that I was never going to me a graphic designer, he brought me to an event set up and showed the ins and outs of all the technical and branding elements. This was an amazing experience and set in stone my love for corporate events.

I’ll skip on a year to the start of upper sixth when we were about to attend the open days at Queen’s and Ulster and we had to do some research on the degrees they offered so that we could make the most of our time and attend specific talks. At this point, I still had some interest in keeping on my language studies and I was STILL set against studying straight marketing because I did not want to end up on the same career path as my dad, after all it was PR I’d fallen in love with at this stage. I hadn’t heard of anyone doing a degree in PR and didn’t really think such a thing existed so I was leaning towards French and International Business at Queen’s. Then, as I was browsing through the Ulster open day schedule, I noticed the CMPR and CAM talks and was instantly intrigued.

I went on to apply for both courses and sit my A Levels and months later after painstakenly waiting for remarks to meet the CAM grade boundaries, I was officially a CAM student.

Now three years on I’ve just completed a twelve month Corporate Communications internship in London at The Walt Disney Company and I’m currently working as a Marketing Assistant at Mirror Media. Needless to say, my 17 year old self was naive to the similarities between PR and marketing and when I decided to go into PR I firmly believed I was not following in my dad’s footsteps. But, alas, here I am, unintentionally following my dad’s discipline that I’d always been so against and I have to say that I couldn’t be happier. The past five years have of course taught me a lot but I’ve mainly learned that the bad things that happen to us are only going to teach us lessons that no book will and sometimes they’ll even lead you down the best path. I’ve learned that it’s important not to stress too much about your career path and as cliché as it sounds, everything will work itself out in the end.  

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*Global Aphasia – This is the most severe form of aphasia, a language impairment, and is applied to patients who can produce few recognizable words and understand little or no spoken language. Persons with Global Aphasia can neither read nor write.

Emily Spackman McKee is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter @_spackman and LinkedIn Emily Spackman McKee