Exploring the Strategy and Technology by TikTok to Attract Gen Z by@jonathanSnyder

Exploring the Strategy and Technology by TikTok to Attract Gen Z

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Einstein once said that the measure of a person's intelligence is their ability to adapt to change. In the realm of technology and the internet, change goes so fast while bringing good and bad things. Maybe you still remember the controversy caused by TikTok. The Indonesian government had blocked this app because of the neglect of negative content.

The good news is that TikTok has changed a lot since he rolled about two years ago. After being hit by critics related to privacy, dependency, and safety issues (especially for young users), the developer of ByteDance is slowly implementing a number of security features.

For example: we can create restrictions on access to the app (from 40 to 120 minutes per day). If the deadline is reached, we need to enter the password before we can open the app again.


Of course TikTok is also equipped with reporting, blocking, and limited mode ’functions to filter certain videos.

TikTok is now available in 150 countries / regions, supported by 75 languages, and has 50 branches in the world. The iOS version was downloaded more than 104 million times in the first half of 2018. This number exceeds the record held by PUBG Mobile, YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

And at the 2019 TikTok SEA Creators & Content Marketing Conference, ByteDance talked a lot about the short video trends and the technology that they carried on the popular app.


Characteristic of Gen Z

Today there are still many people preparing or designing their products for millennials. To be honest, the golden era of Gen Y is over and now is the time for Generation Z to shine. In his presentation, Surayot Aimlaor as head of marketing TikTok Thailand said that the average population of Southeast Asia spends 3.6 hours a day playing smartphone (Indonesia reaches 3.9 hours), and the percentage is dominated by users aged 15 to 24 years.

98 percent of the Generation Z group have their own smartphones. They are connected to the internet for 10 hours a day and 1/3 of them watch videos for up to one hour a day, and consume an average of 68 in a 24 hour period.

But there are side effects from the availability and ease of access to content for these circles: generally, they can only spend eight seconds paying attention to one topic (attention span or what we known as gratification delayed). Furthermore, Gen Z will shift its focus to something else.

These characteristics are utilized by TikTok. ByteDance calls this service the number one short-video platform in the world - especially in Asia and America. Users are welcome to make videos of 3 to 15 seconds or a maximum of one minute.

From the recognition of a number of creators, one of them dancer from Surabaya Kelly Courtney, the 15-second video turned out to be the preferred type of content and stimulated more comments, for instance: TikTok Life Hacks & even a beauty hacks from TikTok.


In a panel discussion, Kantar China CEO Rana Deepender discussed further about the characteristics of Gen Z. Many people think that, compared to millennials, these circles have lower brand loyalty. This turns out to be wrong. Generation Z users are very aware of the brand and they tend to be loyal to names that are consistent in holding certain principles or values

Answering my question, senior director of global marketing Lionel Sim explained that they were not worried if the popularity of the short-video trend would decline in the future, or when the Gen Z era had passed. Their main concern is not just to focus on a short video, but how to make it easy for everyone to create.

The Technology Behind TikTok Services

It is easy to override technology and its cultivation efforts when a service offers simplicity of use. TikTok is a favorite app for young users due to its rich combination of features and intuitive UI. In the main view only, you are offered access to various music options, filters, and functions to switch cameras or change video speed. The upload button is also placed on the same layer.


But the technology of TikTok is far deeper than that. Some small examples such as filters that can change hair color, then I also saw the use of the augmented reality system to place (dinosaurs) virtual Velociraptor against the background of the real world. Then there is also a sticker-style feature ‘3D emoji‘ that can replace your face while following the look on your face.

One more feature that managed to amaze me was the rain-themed stickers and lenses. Armed with just a wave of the hand, the user can stop the water drops while activating the zoom-in / out function. This scenario reminds me a little of the scene in The Matrix, when Neo stops a bullet. In order to present this, ByteDance is working on a system that is able to track 21 points on the palm of the hand so that it can detect no less than 19 types of gestures with 99 percent accuracy.


Machine learning (and artificial intelligence, if I heard correctly) is also used to make the application of filters and stickers more accurate. In addition, smart algorithms are also used so that content can arrive at the right user, in order to optimize the recommendation system.

One interesting conclusion that I caught from the long presentation of ByteDance and an interview with the developer is that they are struggling to develop a variety of complex technologies, then package it in a simple interface to make it easier for everyone to be a creator.

The negative sentiment towards TikTok is still not completely gone. But I think ByteDance's efforts in polishing various aspects of the short-video platform and seeing developers' compliance with government policies must still be appreciated.

You need to know that a number of government agencies such as the Ministry of Communication and Information and Kemenpar also use TikTok to disseminate information and reach out and interact with the community.

Read: 101 Brilliant Life Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier


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