TikTok is not as well known as Instagram or Twitter, but Bridgette Matter thinks it may just replace them as the next big platform. That’s why the Jacksonville anchor/reporter jumped on board. Matter says that her station, like everyone else, talks about how important it is to interact with social media, but “no one’s focusing on TikTok…yet.”
TikTok is a global video-sharing app/platform created in China three years ago that became available for worldwide use in 2017. It is very similar to what Vine once was. But instead of 6-second videos, TikTok allows videos up to a minute long. Nearly half of TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years old, and the app has been downloaded one billion times, according to the 2019 global web index.
Matter works for Fox30 in Jacksonville, which brands itself as “Action News Jax” and serves southern Georgia and northeast Florida as part of a Cox-owned duopoly with WJAX-TV. Matter joined TikTok after following the entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, who predicts that it will be the next Instagram.
“What he’s saying is that TikTok is what Instagram was maybe 10 years ago: primarily young people, kids in college, kids in high school,” Matter said. “You didn’t have businesses or adults on that platform. And now pretty much every person is on there, every business is on there. Same thing with Facebook.”
The New Yorker recently published a piece describing what keeps people watching on TikTok. The most popular videos on TikTok are usually entertaining: viral dances, trending challenges, etc. Matter often posts light-hearted videos, but that’s not where she’s getting the viewership. When she puts more serious content on TikTok, her videos can garner more than 12,000 views, ten times what her lighter fare attracts on a good day.
And when she uploaded a video of her coverage of Hurricane Dorian, the viewership “exploded.”
The 10 second video got 65,000 views. The reason: Dorian was trending at the time, so TikTok’s algorithm, which tries to give users more of what they like, worked in Matter’s favor.
Matter is using TikTok to connect with a new audience and build her brand.
“TikTok is just a way to get content on a different platform, and maybe even carry some of those people over to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, which is what most media entities are focused on now,” Matter said.
Her advice for journalists interested in TikTok is that while its audience is still very young, that is a good thing. “If you really think about it…you’re trying to appeal to an audience that might be news [consumers] in the future. That’s where they are right now.”
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