Think of the app Musical.ly combined with Vine (remember Vine?) That’s TikTok! It’s a modern, fun interactive app, taking social media by storm – with more than 500 million users worldwide.

Sounds impressive right? But, how does this apply to everyday journalism?

Let’s start with the facts and what it’s used for.

What is TikTok and what does it do?

Quite simply, it is an app where users can create and share creative, looping videos between 15 and 20 seconds in length.

You can develop your videos by selecting from a large range of sounds, popular song snippets, short moments from films/TV shows and even YouTube videos.

Additionally, users can participate in challenges with the use of hashtags, much like Twitter or Instagram.

How can journalists use TikTok?

Using TikTok is a form of mobile journalism. And is a great way for sharing news in the moment.

EXAMPLE: NBC News recently shared a video of a large barge that had been shipwrecked in the Niagara Falls for more than 100 years that came loose due to severe weather.

TikTok can also be used as an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in a newsroom.

EXAMPLE: The Washington Post – who have 217.3k followers and 7.4 million likes – regularly post funny and creative, everyday shenanigans from their office.

What do the experts say?

Sportsbeat social media executive Max Hamid said: “TikTok can help journalists understand the younger generation and it’s a good way of assessing the culture of the platform.”

Sportsbeat social media manager Will Thompson added: “TikTok is useful for journalists wanting to get a creative message out. TikTok could work, but it is very time-consuming, and users have to be creative and passionate enough to put the time in.”

Both Max and Will agreed it could be taught on journalism courses as part of a social media sub-module.

What are the benefits of news organisations using TikTok?

  • Sharing short videos is great for increasing engagement.
  • It’s relatable! Users feel like they can connect with you personally.
  • The platform recently added a link function for paid ads and sponsored videos.
  • You can use hashtags so your videos can be easily found.
  • Due to the multiple features of the app and its merging with the app Musical.ly, TikTok poses strong potential for longevity.
  • It’s free!

What other publications use TikTok?

  • iHeart radio – 271.4k followers and 965.8k likes
  • ESPN – 1.7 million followers and 52.3 million likes
  • TeenVogue – 1.2 million followers 2 million likes
  • BBC RADIO 1 – 171.3k followers 399.4k likes

Do you use TikTok? Let us know in the comments!