Do apps like TikTok mean that everyone is a content creator?

As we cautiously evolved through the 1st year of lockdown social media sites like TikTok have sky-rocked in popularity; and thanks to technology just anyone with a smartphone and wifi can become a viral creative (if they are “lucky“). But does this really mean that they are content creators?

If you are someone who only consumes information made for your circle, you might not know that the concept of TikTok actually existed for years before Covid. It was known as A much more niche social media application where users would rather innocently mine to their favourite songs. As the influence of social media grew over the years was eventually shut down by Chinese technology company ByteDance and replaced with TikTok.

It’s almost hard to believe that the former app is now valued on visual ‘performances’ rather than expressing fandom for a particular song. Even just 10 years ago it was Tumblr that you would secretly log onto to see more…explicit content. If you wanted to idolise your favourite boyband you had Twitter. Your next bedroom aesthetic was born on Pinterest.

Fast forward to mid-2020 you can now learn to Poll dance and bake vegan cookies all within one swipe on Tiktok.

For those of you that love a good definition according to “A content creator is someone who is responsible for the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media. They usually target a specific end-user/audience in specific contexts. A content creator can contribute any of the following: blog, news, image, video, audio, email, social updates and other related content.”

Our bright-eyed video stars plan, shoot and edit their videos usually themselves; that’s a whole production team in one if you think about it! They start off as producers and writers, planning their videos. Next, they are both the talent and director; a few minutes later they now hiring themselves as the editors and marketing team. That is a lot of roles for a 5 – 60 second clip.

Frustratingly, it’s hard for offline creators to get their short films and documentaries noticed. After months of planning and stressful days of filming most are met with a discouraging 230 views on Youtube and a repost from your aunt on Facebook with the words “So proud of my nephew producing his first movie”…But you don’t want to correct her and tell her you were actually the director…she wouldn’t get the difference anyway.

Keep yourself in the point of view of a filmmaker. You then switch to Instagram with a plan to try a bit of paid promotion, only to find your carefully personalised feed flooded with 30-second reels of teenagers running around their cluttered homes switching into 7 different outfits. You’re thinking “How did this go viral?” The lighting is inconsistent, I could have edited that way better if they asked me. You scroll some more to find more viral videos, and oh look they just got a brand deal with a camera company…”And for what?” You really want to say something, that comment button is right under your thumb… But you’re smart, you know that cancel culture is dangerous so you have to keep your genuinely helpful feedback to yourself. There’s nothing more awkward than a gang of middle-class 14-year-olds calling you a “hater“.

It’s time to try again, you pay for promotion out of your own pocket. This is a good short film and you know. So this time you go for more than the typical “£1 for 2 days” option on Instagram, this time you invest…And yet again the results are still not what you aimed for; you got 30 post likes from people you don’t already follow, but only 3 of them clicked the link and were directed to the Youtube video…It’s a hard-knock life…

Ask yourself this, is this filmmaker a content creator? Their work isn’t getting noticed! If you said no then I have a second question, how many views does it take? How many likes?

Okay, this is getting demotivating, let’s pretend we’re not serious short filmmakers, we are just Katie in her bedroom bored in the house in the house bored (those that get it get it, but I don’t get keep so here’s the inner joke).

Do you remember when the pandemic started in 2020? most of us were heavy against Tiktok, telling all our friends that we are “Never going to be one of those weirdoes who use Tiktok“. Where are we now? It’s on our phones, if we slide up to see our active apps it’s right there…Don’t deny it you’re in a safe space😜.

Whether we post or not, most active social media users have become TikTok users. In this scenario, we believe we are content creators and we have just posted a video…..And…..30 views with 4 likes including our own….great… Even though we don’t care, part of us does because Tosin from our same lecture class did the exact same university challenge and got 20K views…How? Does that mean that Tosin is creative and I’m not? Is Tosin just better than me?

Ask yourself this, is Katie a content creator? Her views are so low she reckons she’s shadow-banned.

Let’s think about the videos that actually go viral. Unfortunately for the solo production teams, it’s usually the accidental ‘random’ videos that blow. Katie has learnt the reality of this the hard way and has convinced herself that she is “Shadow Banned”. This means that the user’s content (Katie’s videos) isn’t showing on people’s feeds that don’t already follow them and usually interact, almost as if the user had a private account. This is still one of those problems that a lot of users face, and we still don’t really understand how to navigate around it.

To wrap up the scenarios, both users struggled to get their content noticed, one who makes content as a profession and the other who does it for fun sometimes. Let’s go back to the question “Do apps like TikTok mean that everyone is a content creator?“. There are two answers to this question, and the short answer is yes, By definition, anyone who is creating and posting content is a content creator.

The wider answer looks into the users’ value of the content.

Do you agree that if someone posts content that they don’t care about should not be looked at as a content creator? For example, a teenager who thoughtlessly posts public school videos of himself and his friends. Sometimes the videos get thousands of few sometimes 10 views. Let’s name him Ben. Ben does not care about his views or who watches, he just posts them as a place where he can revisit in the future to look back at memories. He is not bothered if his videos go viral, some of them have gotten close before.

Is Ben a content creator? His videos are public but not posted to entertain others.

Ben has an older sister called Agatha (Yes I can name her whatever I want). She really wants to be a model she’s even applying to agencies. She posts photos of her dressed up on Instagram for her portfolio. But her account is private, and she is cautious of who follows her (I don’t know how she’s going to get scouted either but let’s roll with the case study).

Is Agatha a content creator? She posts her content as professionally as she can intending to build her portfolio as a fashion model. Her Instagram posts are private.

Ben’s teacher Mr Tower makes internal Youtube videos teaching maths in extra detail. Although the videos were only made for his class initially, all students at Ben’s school now have the links to access these. They sometimes share them with students from other schools. Mr Tower isn’t too bothered by this he knows that his extra help videos are being shared outside of his class, but he continuously only shares the links to them. He doesn’t really acknowledge the extra views

Is Mr Tower a content creator? His content is easily accessible with the link and constantly being shared however he only directly makes the videos for his class. Think about what you think content is. Mr Tower is making maths videos, but he does it regularly online and it is what he is known for.

In my opinion, both Agatha and Mr Tower are content creators, however, Ben isn’t. My reason is that: Ben makes content for his personal use with no intention of entertaining or teaching others. Of course, this is my opinion and we all may differ in what we think.

Let me know in the comments what YOU think.

Do apps like TikTok mean that everyone is a content creator?

One response to “Do apps like TikTok mean that everyone is a content creator?”

  1. This was really informative and rI think we are all content creators in the sense that we film our lives with the intend of letting others view it for entertainment but when your motive for creating goes beyond personal entertainment then you truly become a “creator”.

    Liked by 1 person

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