Since its debut in 2017, the social media app TikTok has garnered over 800 million users worldwide. Its popularity has grown substantially since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Users connect through “cloud raves,” dancing challenges and coronavirus memes.
“City Lights'” producer Summer Evans spoke via Zoom with Kudzi Chikumbu, the director of creator community at TikTok.
For those unfamiliar, TikTok is a short-form video mobile app where you can watch all types of short videos. The videos range from pets, to music videos, to works by aspiring filmmakers, to tutorials. (see an example here)
What was mostly geared toward millennials and Gen Zers has become popular among all generations. While people are sheltering in place, the app has become a tool for family-bonding time.
“It has been really exciting to see families come together and truly co-create. You can either be in the same place if you are staying together in one home or in different locations by using the various tools on the app. … TikTok has definitely become a gathering place for connection plus joy in terms of creating,” Chikumbu said.
TikTok stars and content creators are crafting comedy skits, teaching people how to cook new recipes, offering gardening tips and creating tons of DIY tutorials in order to entertain those self-quarantining.
One of those newly popular TikTok users is Marcus Bridgewater, also known as @GardenMarcus. He founded Choice Forward, a company designed to help people with their mental health, physical fitness and spiritual awareness.
Bridgewater uses TikTok as a platform to share the philosophy of his company. Posting photos of his garden on Instagram led to followers reaching out to him with questions about gardening. He created TikTok content to help people learn more about his gardening techniques as well as his philosophy on life.
Nurses, teachers and medical professionals have also taken to using the app as a way to inform the public about practicing proper safety measures.
TikTok has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to give users the ability to ask questions to health experts. Together, they’ve created an informational page with tips on staying safe and preventing the spread of the virus, and they are debunking myths around COVID-19.