Episode 3: Ok Boomer
Companies listed on the stock market as you probably know are obliged to provide investors with up to date information regarding their condition. Financial results and market predictions are typical subjects of these announcements. On the 16th of July also Netflix sent such a message.
In the part regarding its competitors, Netflix mentioned Amazon, Apple and Disney. Nothing special. But what’s less obvious, they also mentioned Tik Tok, which is not a streaming platform per se.
Mistakes in such documents are rather impossible, so why exactly does Netflix see Tik Tok as its competitor?
Netflix is simply aware that Seth Godin’s was right when he described marketing as a contest for people’s attention. And not surprisingly, the people Netflix is after and Tik Tok’s target group are very similar. They are called the Z generation.
As a whole, they are digital natives. People, who don’t know the world before the internet. They knew how to use an iPad before they even learned to walk. And that has a great impact on their attention span.
Let me bring up a metaphor here. Nobody can focus on one thing for a long time. Our attention comes and goes, just like electromagnetic waves. The only difference is that we operate on FM radio frequencies while their minds resemble a 5G network. If you want some numbers it’s around 8 sec. on average.
And this short attention span can only have one outcome. Boredom. Boredom they try to fight off by stimulating themselves with a couple of sources of entertainment at once.
However, finding new sources of entertainment all the time can be exhausting. And here Tik Tok comes in.
I remember convincing my parents to set up the internet in our home in the late ’90s. My main argument was that it gives unlimited access to knowledge. You can search for anything. I tried to contrast it with the TV, where you eat everything that they give you.
And it’s funny how the media came full circle. Nowadays, thanks to the mythical algorithm, you no longer have to worry about where to look to find something interesting. You just swipe up.
I will mention here once again about Netflix which is also aware of this change and is currently testing the “Play Something” mechanism, which consists of automatically playing movies. Instead of choosing, now you just switch between channels … I mean movies.
Thanks to this strategy Tik Tok is able to stick its users to the screens for a very long time. On average, every user spends about 3 hours a day on the app. They do 5 minutes per session, which makes 30 app contacts every day.
Besides making UX simple, Tik Tok has one great advantage over most of its competitors. And that’s the content creation process. And I don’t mean the technicalities. Sure, you can use thousands of filters and effects and the short-form format guarantees nobody will get bored watching you, but more important is who will see your video.
On Instagram, friends will see your posts first. But the Tik Tok algorithm decides who will see your creations. It’s probably going to be someone from a different town or even a country, so it’s quite possible to achieve fame before anyone from your school will get a chance to hate it.
Kinia Wilczyńska, a Tik Tok celebrity is a good example. She clearly admits she has no idea what exactly made her famous. She says that she was afraid of being judged by her classmates, but when she saw a growing number of followers she cried with happiness and decided it’s the right place for her to stay for long.
Evading hate and a chance for popularity is a big deal. Generation Z is shy in real life and bold online, so they couldn’t ask for more.
The general feel of the content uploaded to Tik Tok is also important.
Let’s get back to Instagram for a while. No matter if you’re a world-class influencer, a national level celebrity or just some guy with a phone, most of the time it’s about posting photos that will make other people jealous. Instagram is a beautiful, aspirational world.
On the other hand, Tik Tok is about authenticity. Surely, sometimes you’ll bounce on someone showing his yacht or expensive clothes but it’s being real that can really make you popular. You don’t have to be pretty or wealthy. Just be yourself.
And this is probably why Tik Tok had such a good start on the Polish market, gathering 2,5 mln active users per month.
Surprisingly Tik Tok’s is not the most famous in big cities. Big city life is a place for Instagram, while Tik Tok is making a big-time in smaller towns and rural areas where this authenticity is so vital.
To sum up. Companies such as Tik Tok or Netflix are aware that Generation Z is the hottest target group in terms of profits. However, this is a demanding group and very different from the Millenials. To get their interest and attention, you need to get to know them well. I hope that you got to know them better now.
Do you want to discuss this topic further? My name is Rafał Opaliński. Feel free to contact me and share your point of view.
I am a strategist at Together and, along with Henryk Klawe and Bartosz Balewski, may help your organisation to benefit from digital transformation.