Like many other people, I fell into the TikTok rabbit hole during lockdown. I had resisted it for so long. It started by scrolling endlessly through videos for hours and then I decided to start making content myself. When you run a business online, you kinda have to be up on the trending platforms. More and more creators were saying that with the rate TikTok is growing, and how quickly you can grow an audience, it’s a good place to be. So I thought I would give it a go.
Ignoring all the news about the ‘security’ of the platform (well maybe it shouldn’t be ignored, but I don’t have any proof of it), I found there to be a bit of another dark side to the platform. But maybe that’s just because I’m too old.
Now I wasn’t going to join in any dance trends. After all it’s hardly my ‘brand image’. I tried some travel type videos. They did alright, had around 1000 views each, quite quickly. I then experimented with some more expat life style content, talking about differences between the UK and the USA. Those blew up. One of my videos has had over 100,000 views, with a couple of others not far behind.
Going Viral On TikTok & Why I Wish I Hadn’t
For the most part, I had positive reactions. Other people sharing their experiences, telling me they loved my videos, asking me questions about various things. All good in the hood.
But then it started getting pathetic.
As the video grew, I then would get ridiculous comments that was nothing to do with the content I was making. Things like ‘charge your phone’ and commenting on why was I an adult filming on an iPod and not a phone like a child (I use it fly my drone with, when I’m not using it for that, I use it to film videos). They didn’t really bother me as such, it was just more of an inconvenience, I was making travel videos and they didn’t seem to care about anything I was saying. I’m used to being on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, where you actually get meaningful conversations and comments.
It then started turning nasty, where people would comment on the way I speak. Telling me I was saying things wrong, being very patronising, as if I was stupid, when it’s purely down to accents. The UK has so many regional accents, you can go down the road and find people pronouncing things differently. Things like s-con and s-cone (scone) and baff and barth (bath). Sometimes it got even more personal.
I came to the conclusion that it’s because all the people making these comments were kids. I checked out every one of their profiles and half of the time they had zero content themselves and in their profile photos they looked VERY young. They were purely out just to troll people.
As I’m an adult, probably old enough to be their mum, I don’t take things personally, not when I know they are purely a troll. I’d delete their comment, block their profile and move on. I didn’t even bother responding to them.
I found that you’d get people commenting on the video as if you didn’t even exist. Their comments would start a little like ‘has anyone else noticed how she…’. Yet I’M the one that gets the notification that there’s been a new comment, it’s not like them commenting gets seen by anyone else initially.
So you HAVE to monitor the comments. If you get a bad one, you then find that you WILL get an influx of other people commenting on that same comment, saying how they agree blah blah blah. So it’s best to nip it in the bud before you get a whole bunch of people just ganging up on you and bashing you.
I find it strange how it’s a platform where people purposely go into the comments. By its layout, you wouldn’t think this would happen. On the main ‘For You’ page, you can just scroll through videos, hit the like button etc. You have to actually click through to get to the comment pages. It seems random that people would scroll through comments, when the nature of the platform is 15 second to 1 minute videos. It’s meant to be ‘taken in’ quickly.
The only exception I did have to the blatant young audience, was that I had an adult lady who actually followed me. She would comment on EVERY video saying how I was wrong. I often said at the start of my videos that they were MY experiences and things ARE different depending on where you are located. But she would still tell me I was wrong. With this woman I got fed up of saying ‘yes, I understand that’s why I say MY experience’. So I blocked her too 🙂
Why I Don’t Think It’s A Good Environment For Kids
As I mentioned, as I’ve got older, I’ve learnt to shrug off the comments, delete them and move on. I don’t take them personally, they are just a bit annoying. If I don’t react to their behaviour, then they haven’t won. They are as good as ignored.
Part of the problem is that it is a very young audience. I did a Google search that said the main demographic of TikTok is 16 – 24yr olds that make up 41% of users (worldwide). My age bracket only counts for 9% of users in the UK. I’m very much in the minority and you can tell.
I can imagine that younger users are subjected to the same troll like comments too. But how many of them take the mean comments to heart? I’ve seen other users receive some REALLY hateful personal comments about the way they look, their weight etc etc. Some profiles will ‘name and shame’ as you can do videos replying to comments, but then the bully has got what they want. They’ve got their reaction.
One account I follow, seems to get hundreds of hateful comments. I follow him just because he’s so positive and I love his insights. He often shares that we should love the hater because 9 times out of 10, they’ve got something going on in their life that causes them to get pleasure out of being mean. Maybe they have their own insecurities and we should actually feel sorry for them. Which is potentially true, but in my eyes there’s still no excuse for being mean. If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say it at all.
So What’s Next?
Maybe it has got to me. I’ve started changing my content. I don’t like to think of it as ‘they’ve won’, they just aren’t the audience I’m wanting for my business. If that means trying a different type of content to encourage a different maturity of audience, then that’s what I’ll do. I want the focus to be my travel content. Not giving people the opportunity to comment on me as a person. I want to create content that inspires people or helps people. I tried the informational, opinionated content, but I think that works best on other platforms where people are genuinely interested and mature enough for it. TikTok is not the platform for that type of content.
Putting it into perspective, my verbal experience based content reaches anywhere between 2000 and 10,000 views on average, with a few videos reaching upwards of 60,000 views. The last 3 purely travel image videos have barely reached 300. It could be that the algorithm learnt the type of videos I was creating and pushed them out to people that interact with that type of content. It might take a while for it to re-learn the new type of videos I’m making before it can show them to the ‘right’ audience.
I could just plough on for a vanity reasons. It’s sadly the truth that when something starts going viral, you get a bit of a kick out of it. But if it’s just going to bring in unwanted attention then I don’t think I can be bothered with it.
When you run a blog and social media as a business, you want it to give you some sort of return or value. You also want to be attracting your target audience. My content isn’t meant for 16 year olds. If I’m putting time and effort into social media, I want it to drive traffic to my websites or to create a business opportunity. I’ll make a 360 degree change in my approach to the platform, if it doesn’t work, then I’ll spend my time somewhere else. I’ve heard other travel content creators say it works brilliant for them, so the audience is there SOMEWHERE.
But in all honesty, if the people that are on the platform purely to troll and be mean don’t calm down, then Trump might be doing the US a favour by getting it banned.