Take Time to Learn with TikTok
- Innovation for Ageing, Culture & Society
- Chris Anderson
This social media platform can help you grow your skillset 15-60 seconds at a time.
Author: Chris Anderson, Director of Marketing and Communications at amazing.community
This blog post has been submitted by our US partner amazing.community, a nonprofit with the mission to expand the work horizon for women 45+ through tech focused learning opportunities, resource sharing and community building.
“Really? You’re on TikTok?”, a friend once asked me, her incredulity betrayed her silent addendum. “At your age?” It’s true. I’m 59 years old and I enjoy scrolling on TikTok, a short form video app known for its viral dance challenges, crazy pranks and, yes, popularity with those who skew younger. And, though I do enjoy a good dance challenge, it’s not the only reason my attention is momentarily (ok, many-momentarily) diverted by TikTok. In my opinion, if one is intentional about it, TikTok offers the chance to discover a wealth of resources on all kinds of topics from the banal to the brilliant. A fine opportunity, in my opinion, for all ages.
First things first. What is TikTok? With its origins rooted in an app called Musical.ly, TikTok was launched globally by the Chinese company ByteDance in 2018. The platform set itself apart from other video-based apps, like YouTube, by the length of its videos (originally 15 seconds) and its powerful algorithm that works to deliver content of most interest to users.
Today, TikTok is available in more than 150 markets and is one of the most downloaded apps in 40+ countries. With 500 million active users, TikTok’s popularity exceeds other well-known social media sites including LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat. According to Campaign Live, TikTok was the second-most-downloaded app in the UK during 2020 -- only trailing the video-conferencing platform Zoom. In the US, TikTok was the most download app as well as in France, Italy and Spain. Though a significant percentage of users are 30 and younger, my incredulous friend might be interested to know that a healthy 11% are 50+.
So, what’s inspired TikTok’s meteoric rise in usership? Content. Content. Content. The quick, easy to digest videos aren’t all winners – possible understatement – but there’s a lot to be enjoyed while curled up on the sofa or standing in the grocery line. Like this TikTok or this or this.
But beyond these entertaining shorts, TikTok provides content that’s downright educational. The company sees education as part of its mission and, as such, has launched campaigns to inspire learning on the platform. During 2020, as part of its 13€ million, Europe-wide #Learnontiktok campaign, the app introduced “A-Z of TikTok” in the UK where it showcased video tutorials from more than 800 educators, experts, nonprofit groups and other creators. It also created a “Learn” tab for UK users to discover different learning opportunities on the
Comedian Stephen Fry promoted the endeavor in this short video.
It seems as if this campaign is resonating. According to Rich Waterworth, TikTok's general manager for Europe, the platform has amassed more than seven billion views of the hashtag #LearnOnTikTok.
So, how does one act intentionally and find some of these educational nuggets?
- An easy first step is to simply search. The search function on the app,allows users to discover by topic, hashtag or by content created by other users. Interested in how to make that baked feta pasta everyone was talking about last summer? Hit the search button and enter “baked feta pasta” and you’ll find a feed full of feta yumminess. If you’re interested in upping your skillset in Excel, type “excel” into the search bar and you’ll find loads of possible sources like this one.
- Interact with the app. By “hearting” videos or following users you like, you’re giving the algorithm an idea of content that resonates with you. Over time, your “For You” page (FYP) on your feed will deliver more content based on your activity while continuing to share videos to inspire new interests. An important note: you can also indicate what videos you don’t like though doing so is not as intuitive as tapping a heart. Instead, you’ll need to press on the video that you don't like and respond “not interested” when the pop-up menu appears.
- Follow hashtags #learnontiktok and #tutorials: These hashtags will give you the chance to discover some of the educational content available on the platform. Once you find the hashtag through search, you “follow” it by adding it to favorites.
In the meantime, here are a few educational creators/hashtags I’ve discovered you might want to explore:
- Study French
- Career Advice
- Job Search
- UK Weather
- #BookTok (Book recommendations)
- Recipes from Around the World
- Bee Colonies
- Science (Bill Nye…you know, the science guy)
- Medicine and Human Anatomy (not for the queasy!)
- British Sign Language
- Learn TikTok (my friend Helen Polise gives great advice for those looking to up their TikTok skills. During the pandemic, when her video production business was painfully quiet, she pivoted to TikTok and gained nearly 500,000 followers!)
Though TikTok’s journey since 2018 hasn’t been without its challenges – namely, a near US ban and widespread concerns about privacy/security, the app is projected to reach an average of 1.5 billion monthly users by 2022.
Will you be one of them?