Breaking Through in the “TikTokification” of Social Media

When it comes to social media, the only thing we can count on is that the target will continue to move.

With 62.3% of the world now on social media and the average user spending more than two hours per day on these platforms, they can’t be ignored. Social media is a powerful tool to build awareness of our nonprofit organizations.

But how do we capture and keep their attention? It starts by understanding how the algorithms themselves have changed dramatically just over the past year.

The recent changes are what I often refer to as the “TikTokification” of social media. TikTok users were blown away by how the app seemed to so quickly understand their interests and feed them content from users that they didn’t even follow.

This made TikTok even more addictive, leading users to spend an average of more than an hour a day on the platform.

TikTok knows that the more attention they keep, the more ads they can show. Whether this is good or bad is a debate for another article. But it is reality, and it’s what all of their major social media competitors are imitating when it comes to audience and attention.

What’s so different about TikTok? Well, their algorithm is built primarily on interests rather than on followers. Historically, social media algorithms have been based on who you follow, what you like, and what you comment on. TikTok changed the game by monitoring what you watched, how long you watched it, and what other content others similarly engaged with. Using that intelligence, they began feeding users content based on like interests rather than what they follow or interact with.

And it’s worked.

The result is that other platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have integrated similar adjustments into their algorithms. So now, accounts with fewer followers but great content are being rewarded. All the while those accounts with large followings and historically larger engagement are seeing decreases because their content is experiencing low engagement.

So how should you respond? The answer is simple: create better content.

For years we have debated which is more important on social media: quality or quantity. And for years quantity trumped quality. But we’ve gradually seen this change, and that rate of change is increasing faster than ever before.

Don’t get me wrong, quantity still matters. But the key to standing out is high-quality content that keeps people engaged. And the more you can distribute that in quantity, the more attention you’re likely to receive on social media.

The other factor to consider in the midst of the “TikTokification” of social media is the transition we have experienced over the years in the medium itself.

Early on, social media was primarily based on written words and hashtags, and we learned how to communicate in 140 characters or less. Then images were introduced, and we learned how to meme.

In recent years we’ve seen the emergence of vertical video (TikTok, Instagram/Facebook Reels, and YouTube Shorts), and we’re having to learn how to tell a story through video in 60 seconds or less.

The bottom line is simple, but not easy: We have to learn how to use short-form vertical video to capture and keep people’s attention. If you can do that well, you will both break through and find success within these recent algorithm changes. 

The challenging reality is that by the time you read this article, even much of what I’m sharing might have changed. This is a moving target, and we don’t own this audience. Our goal on these platforms must be to break through on “rented land” to capture their attention and move this attention to our owned properties like website, email, and SMS.

My best advice is this: Stay flexible!

Lean into these changes by creating great short-form vertical video that breaks through to your audience. But also stay flexible. What worked before isn’t going to keep working forever, and what’s working today might not work tomorrow.

And while these challenges might come with frustrations, let me encourage you that with these changes also come new opportunities when we stay flexible and adapt!

We’d love to help you break through to your audience, as well as new audiences in this new social media landscape. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can leverage social media for your ministry – and reach more people for the Kingdom – contact us today!