You can view my TikTok Digital Artefact here.
My Digital Artefact is creating content and becoming an ‘influencer’ on the platform of TikTok.
As indicated in my initial pitch, my Digital Artefact was originally going to be several reviews for each episode of the new season of ‘Ballers’, an American HBO television show now in its fifth series. Based on YouTube, I intended to utilise the online hype surrounding the new season to memetic hitchhike and generate audience engagement and traction before the new season’s release in Australia next year. In doing so, I rationalised, I could be positioned as a key expert in the field for the Australian viewers when the hype begins domestically early in 2020.
However, as I discuss in my Beta Pitch and progress report, after consulting with my peers and responding to their feedback, I realised that the review format immediately placed me into the role of a consumer, where I wasn’t adding anything new and didn’t have a lot of agency over the content I was creating. As such, I decided to pivot away from the passive consumer position I had initially occupied and instead turned to a new platform where I could challenge myself and further develop my skills as a content creator; TikTok.
Although I was hesitant to completely change my Digital Artefact at first, after listening to Gary Vaynerchuk talk about the advantages of TikTok (I follow him on Instagram and you should too) and conducting some research of my own into the platform, I was convinced that a DA on TikTok would be a rewarding learning experience, and I wasn’t disappointed. As an emerging media platform, it was always my intention to eventually leverage my knowledge and/or following that I would gain from using the platform for any of my future endeavours and projects.
As for my Digital Artefact, I have created dozens of short videos and skits to ensure that my content appeals to a wide audience. As such, I feel that my Digital Artefact not only has social utility for other users of the platform by adding unique and varied content into their feeds, but my TikTok DA also has a clear utility for me personally. As I am an aspiring actor and would like to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, it is immensely valuable to have the opportunity to practice producing a variety of content and develop my skills and in doing so, gain a better understanding of the key dynamics involved with TikTok as a new digital paradigm and platform.
My production method for creating TikTok videos adheres to the FIST principles and I have thus experienced little difficulty with optimising the content creation procedure. Although the total time it takes me to create a video differs greatly, I can generally produce a video from start to finish in approximately 5 minutes, meaning that the production is particularly fast and I can respond to changes in my audience or the platform rapidly. TikTok is inexpensive as the app itself is free and I can film, edit and upload videos all on my phone, negating the need for expensive cameras or equipment. I ensure that I don’t overcomplicate the process of creating content and am driven by the simple ‘less is more’ approach. Due to these considerations, creating content on TikTok is fairly straightforward and tiny, making it manageable to do over and over again.
The content creation process generally follows the below progression:
- I come up with a content idea. This could simply be an idea that has randomly popped into my head, or one that has been inspired by a song I hear, or an interaction between people I witness. It could be another TikTok that I am inspired by or one that I can replicate or remix to add my own flair or a unique spin on. Moreover, it could be something relatable, humorous, absurd, unique or mundane, but more importantly, the central idea has to be part of a larger associative chain to be entertaining for an audience.
- I record the content, utilising whatever environment I am in (for instance, props, clothes or other people) to add further interest and appeal should I feel it is necessary.
- I edit the video(s). Depending on where the idea stemmed from, this may involve adding music, filming several takes to create transitions or contextualising the content with additional text or name tags to allow the content to be consumed without audio or with low volume.
- I upload the content, adding any relevant hashtag(s) and caption(s) as I see fit.
To better understand my content creation process, below is one of my TikTok videos that exemplify the aforementioned procedure:
You can view the above TikTok directly here.
Here, the content idea was utilising the “achievement unlocked” filter, so the skit itself focussed around giving the achievement a secondary, humorous meaning. The associative chain here relates to the videogame Minecraft, where when the player collects wood, an achievement notification appears, displaying the message “getting wood”. However, the humour of the skit stems from the pictured Minecraft girlfriend, so a different type of wood is acquired by the illustrated character. Of course, the joke relies upon the viewer’s prior knowledge of Minecraft, so the content won’t necessarily make sense to everyone. The skit itself has been enhanced with popular music and also features text to capture an array of users regardless of whether or not they are using TikTok with volume. Furthermore, the video is accompanied by a few relevant hashtags to ensure that it is included in the maximum aggregated streams of content on the platform to increase its potential audience reach.
The audience for my TikTok is a relatively young demographic. I attribute this to the fact that these people are the early adopters of the TikTok platform and as such, make up the large majority of its users. My audience consumes a vast array of content online and is also native to the digital platform, having grown up constantly consuming media. It is important to note that my audience on TikTok is therefore different to some of my previous Digital Artefact’s audiences. In the past, the majority of my audiences have not only been older, (or my age) but they have been far less accustomed to the constant barrage of communication and inescapable media saturation than that of their younger counterparts. As such, these differences presented some unique challenges for me to appeal to my new audience on TikTok and meant that I had to develop and implement some new strategies to better suit my viewers, such as creating more obscure and niche content that was unlike anything else found on the platform to increase its relative value.
Analysis of Important Learning Moments
Below are some examples of the content I produced on TikTok, the feedback received from my audience and what I learned as a result:
You can view the above TikTok directly here.
The TikTok above is the first-ever video I created for the platform and as part of my new DA. I had recently downloaded the app at the time and it was immediately apparent that some of the most popular and viral videos were those that featured music as part of the pictured short story arc. One such song that was popular at the time was Ke$ha’s ‘Praying’, which saw people utilising the high pitched singing in various scenarios. As such, I jumped into creating a video centred on waking up in the morning and realising that your phone hadn’t been charging overnight, with the moment of understanding being indicated by a squeal of disbelief. I enlisted the help of a friend to film the video as I wasn’t yet aware of the self-timer and auto-capture modes through which I could record myself on my own. What I expected would only take 5 minutes or so to film, edit and upload ended up taking upwards of half an hour. I attribute this to my overall lack of knowledge regarding the platform and also my inexperience with the editing tools provided on the app. After assisting me with recording this first video, my friend vowed to never have anything to do with TikTok ever again, so safe to say that a) I was on my own with creating my content; and b) my friend won’t be getting my autograph when I become TikTok famous!
Before uploading my first video, I was under the impression that it would be incredibly popular. In my mind, the mixture of humour, music and relatability meant that it was the epitome of something that would go viral and ‘blow up’. However, the video only received a total of 11 likes and didn’t generate any meaningful engagement, especially because it was viewed 118 times to date. I think that I felt that my TikTok would be more popular than it would eventually turn out to be due to the fact that when I first skimmed through the platform, I noticed hundreds of videos made by everyday people garnering millions of views, likes and shares. For this reason, I gained an inaccurate perception of TikTok virility and incorrectly came to the conclusion that millions of views were commonplace. After posting my first TikTok and receiving less engagement than what I expected, I realised that such an occurrence is fairly rare and this meant that going forward, I adopted a more realistic perspective on engagement and outcomes from TikToks.
You can view the above TikTok directly here.
The TikTok above is a product of my discovery that to make TikTok videos, I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. After spending far too much time thinking about new ideas for content, I realised that the content that people find humorous and respond well to is all inherently the same. Recognising this, I turned to r/Memes and r/MemeEconomy on Reddit for inspiration. What I found was that many picture-based memes could be easily translated into video form. As such, this TikTok was a direct video adaptation of the popular “comedy gold” meme, as seen below, where I identified the central elements and translated them to suit a different format and audience.
This is indicative of a key developmental step in my content creation process, for I learned to think more abstractly about where I could find ideas for the content I was producing.
In addition to being a pivotal moment of learning, the TikTok overhead is also, at the time of writing, my most viewed video. Having been watched more than 1100 times, this TikTok has more than double the total number of views that my second most-watched video received. Despite this, the video was only liked 10 times, meaning that it converted less than 1 per cent of the viewership into likes. To me, this meant that it didn’t generate any meaningful engagement, shares or comments and as such, although being viewed many times, the TikTok video didn’t gain much traction with my audience.
You can view the above TikTok directly here.
The above TikTok was aimed at a gym-going audience and was an experiment to research into some of the more specialised niches and audience groups that exist on the platform. Inspired by a skit by my good friend Jayden, who I have partnered with on Instagram in the past, the TikTok featured someone preparing a protein shake while others around them express concern about what they could be doing. The TikTok marked the first time I utilised the self-recording editing feature and thus meant that I was well and truly independently producing my own content as I didn’t have to rely on someone to record the video for me.
Perhaps most importantly, this TikTok is my video that to date has received the most likes, garnering a total of 37. Having been viewed 272 times, this means that my video achieved a 7 per cent conversion rate of views to likes. I originally attributed this relative success to the visual humour the TikTok employed, but when I tried to utilise a similar formula afterwards in subsequent videos, those videos didn’t experience similar engagement. Instead, upon reflection, I imagine that the above TikTok fared so well due to the combination of visual comedy, absurd content and unique story arc. After attempting to replicate the format of the video, it became apparent that each of the elements included relied upon each other to ‘work’ and that the value of them as a whole was greater than the sum of its parts. As such, in my future TikToks, I tried to incorporate several components together to bolster the overall viewing experience of my audience.
Reflecting on the whole Digital Artefact journey, I am incredibly pleased with what I have accomplished, but perhaps more so with what I have learned along the way. Admittedly, by some of the more traditional metrics of success, such as likes, followers and shares, my TikTok hasn’t fared well. However, I think it is important to note that I wasn’t concerned about gaining a following with this Digital Artefact because I’ve already achieved this in my previous Instagram DA. As such, I have already learned how to leverage a following to obtain sponsorships, brand endorsement deals and modelling contracts, so there was no additional value in doing so again for this Digital Artefact.
Rather, what I intended to achieve with my TikTok DA from the very beginning when I pivoted away from a review series was to use this as an opportunity to learn as much as possible and challenge myself by applying that which I have learned. By this metric, I am pleased to say that I feel that my Digital Artefact has been hugely successful. Having read Ries’ “Positioning: The Battle for your Mind” and Taleb’s “The Black Swan”, not only have I learned about positioning, positive serendipity and the power of asymmetry but, as I indicate in my Beta Pitch, I have been able to experiment with such concepts and apply my learning. I have become far more comfortable with getting uncomfortable in a foreign platform with an unfamiliar audience and have started to view the unknown as an untapped and invaluable opportunity for growth. By embarking upon my TikTok journey, I have been able to further develop my skills and hone my digital literacy and knowledge regarding the convergence, aggregation and consumption of content and media in an emergent media platform.
Moreover, I have thoroughly enjoyed discussing, optimising and developing not only my Digital Artefact but that of my peers as well over the course of this semester. This ride has been incredibly rewarding and I look forward to all the Digital Artefacts I will be able to undertake in the future. Many thanks to my peers and of course to Ted for sharing this journey with me and to you, my readers, for tuning in along the way.
I don’t think there is anything else to say except for that fact that:
I’ll see you online (and if you can’t take a hint, on TikTok too!).
GaryVee Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4v-BcAs3Z4
Business Insider – https://www.businessinsider.com.au/tiktok-app-online-website-video-sharing-2019-7?r=US&IR=T
LifePles TikTok Compilations – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpi93uQDrag
r/Memes – https://www.reddit.com/r/memes/
r/MemeEconomy – https://www.reddit.com/r/MemeEconomy/
Al Ries – https://www.amazon.com.au/Positioning-Battle-Your-Al-Ries-ebook/dp/B006B7LQ90
Nassim Taleb – https://www.amazon.com.au/Black-Swan-Impact-Highly-Improbable-ebook/dp/B002RI99IM/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+black+swan&qid=1572496053&s=digital-text&sr=1-1
StayHipp Trend Guides – https://stayhipp.com/guides/a-guide-to-trends-on-tiktok/
Youtube TikTok Compilations – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnU4lqlbJGk
Mediakix TikTok Trend watch – https://mediakix.com/blog/tik-tok-trends/
Spotify Trending Charts – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1pMB5VwjH6fzf8ldHch1IG
In addition to the above sources, I also feel that it is important to give credit to those who provided me with inspiration or assistance throughout the course of my DA journey:
Jayden Rembacher – https://www.instagram.com/jayden.rembacherr/?hl=en
Georgie Piccirilli – https://www.tiktok.com/@georgieroxursox
Tyran Tuckey – https://www.tiktok.com/@tiktoktuck_
Teodor Mitew – https://twitter.com/tedmitew