TikTok? Oh no, not that as well – Why this statement minimises your chances
Yes, that’s right. New media and new channels sometimes spring up like mushrooms. And not rarely they initially cause a lot of uncertainty and rejection. Especially if they are channels that have little to do with your own core business.
The last two hypes around new channels revolved around Clubhouse – an exclusive channel that could only be reached by invitation – and TikTok, whose target group is significantly younger than that of the other social media. In the case of the latter in particular, perhaps the history of its origins also plays a role. Born out of the world of cosplay and lyp-synch, newspaper publishers probably see little overlap with serious and democratically effective reporting, but for the younger generations it has become a popular portal precisely because of the popular original idea. So before we directly consider TikTok irrelevant for the journalistic industry, let’s take a look at the numbers:
Since its founding in 2017 and its merger with musical.ly, TikTok has developed into a platform that already had one billion active users in September 2021 (source: statista.com). The average time spent on the platform is around one hour. The medium was clearly dominated by younger people; according to a social media agency, 69% of users were between 16 and 24 years old, 31% were older than 25. In the meantime, however, the medium has also established itself among older target groups; 67% of users are currently over 25 years old, although only 11% are over 50 (figures from 2021). In 2021 alone, TikTok was downloaded 656 million times (source: statista.com) and the number of well-known companies using TikTok as a communication and advertising portal is also increasing significantly. Even official authorities such as the police (Polizei NRW, Polizei Berlin) use TikTok as an educational and image platform as well as to motivate new candidates to apply for the police force.
Especially for companies that want to reach new target groups, it is essential to engage with new media and approach them with an open mind. After an analysis of one’s own goals and visions, a decision against a medium can still be made, but a future-oriented company should at least consider the possibilities. Especially in a world that is characterised by innovations and trends, you can no longer afford to immediately shelve a new channel or medium without having explored the opportunities. If you feel the need to reject one immediately, consciously ask yourself why you are doing so and what opportunities might slip through your fingers as a result.
Of course, a newspaper should not launch a news entertainment channel afterwards, wherein the necessary seriousness for important news is lost. But take a look at whether there might not be opportunities for you and your publishing house to use TikTok as a medium to tap into a much younger target group. And be it the coverage of cultural events in your region, which are presented vividly and authentically via reels and short videos.
Does that make you lose respectability and credibility? I don’t think so. Rather, you demonstrate a willingness to change and an openness to the future, as a company or publishing house that is open to the needs and preferences of the younger generations. A separation of reporting between culturally-local and democratically-relevant news is certainly possible if you develop a good and target-group-adapted concept of content creation. The big opportunity is to show the younger ones that the combination of news and trends is possible and that newspapers also experience the change of digitalisation as an opportunity. If you search for the term “newspaper article”, for example, the suggestion list at least gives you an idea that others have already searched for corresponding content.
In this sense: Keep your mind open!