When NBC’s “Today Show” told viewers that gymnast Simone Biles would be withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics women’s gymnastics team final, it didn’t show any footage of the shaky vault performance that came right before her decision. The competition didn’t air on NBC — the official broadcaster of the summer Olympic Games — until later that night.
But audiences on TikTok already came across several clips of Biles’s uncharacteristic performance Tuesday morning, as homemade videos began to circulate on the social media app.
One video from the account @uniquelytheecoach — shot on what appears to be a phone camera held up to a laptop screen shows Biles streak down the mat and launch herself off the vault, twisting one and a half times in the air before landing hard, bending her knees deeply and taking a spring forward.
“Oh my god. Oh my god,” the TikTok creator comments in the background. “Wow.”
This is the first Summer Olympics in the age of TikTok, and coverage of the games on the short-form video app looks wildly different from TV. Many viewers don’t want to wait for big moments to air on prime time or sit through commercial breaks. Twitter offers quippy takes and YouTube deeper dives. But the surge of clips like the footage of Biles’s vault or intimate shots of gymnast Sunisa Lee’s flawless makeup before competition shows Gen Z viewers will tune in for personality-driven content delivered quickly on TikTok.
“In this day and age, the average Olympic viewer is not loyal to a TV network or station, but they are loyal to people,” said Ali Fazal, vice president of marketing at influencer marketing company Grin. “Now, there are a lot more ways to engage rather than hoping your right customer is tuning into NBC at the exact right time.”
Search “Olympics” on TikTok, and many of the most-watched videos come not from NBC but from athletes themselves. Olympic athletes have grabbed headlines for their TikTok content during the Games, including unpolished walk-throughs of the Olympic Village, goofy dorm room competitions and plenty of jumping on cardboard beds.
U.S. men’s rugby team member Cody Melphy posted dozens of videos after arriving in the Olympic Village, gaining hundreds of thousands of followers — and some potentially lucrative outreach from brands — in the process, he said.
“TikTok is a way to express myself outside of rugby,” Melphy said. “I can do and say what I want and kind of have fun.”
People on TikTok often gravitate toward content that emphasizes personal stories, 21-year-old rhythmic gymnast Elena Shinohara said.
By using the app’s duet function to remix and comment on videos from the official @TeamUSA TikTok, she figures she’d be able to introduce her 4.9 million followers to her favorite Olympic athletes and their stories without breaking any rules. In the meantime, she’s continued to post videos of her own routines, including a clip of her chasing a dropped hoop during the U.S. Gymnastics Championships last month. The song “Track Star” by Mooski plays as Shinohara runs after the fumbled prop.
“People on TikTok love fails,” she said.
TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, hasn’t had as many daily active users as other social media destinations during the Olympics, but its growth has outpaced its competitors during the Games, according to data from analytics company Similarweb. It had about 27 million daily users on average in the U.S. on Android devices between July 23 to July 27 compared with YouTube’s 67 million, but those daily users grew 3.6 percent, compared with YouTube’s 1.8 percent and Instagram’s 0.8 percent. TikTok also had the most downloads of any nongaming app worldwide in June, data from Sensor Tower showed.
TikTok’s on-the-nose algorithm serves up content it thinks each user will like. It became so popular during the pandemic that it sparked national security concerns. The White House, under President Donald Trump, issued an executive order banning it, which never happened. President Biden revoked the ban in June, issuing a new executive order calling for a review of the threats foreign companies pose to U.S. citizens and their personal data.
Consumers still have flocked to TikTok, especially Gen Z: Half of the app’s users are younger than 25, according to market research firm eMarketer. It recently increased its video length limit from one minute to three minutes, which some speculated was a move to better monetize its content for advertisers and compete with YouTube. While it’s still unclear how many users will take advantage of longer videos, brands are turning to the app to connect with audiences in a way that feels “authentic” and off the cuff, said Fazal.
But athletes and other creators aren’t allowed to post anything that violates NBC’s broadcast rights to the Games in the United States, according to International Olympic Committee Digital and Social Media Guidelines, which forbid athletes from sharing any media from the “field of play.” That includes the stands and sidelines. In fact, the only TikTok accounts authorized to show clips from competition to users in the U.S. are @NBCOlympics, @NBCSports, @NBCGolf and @peacocktv, according to TikTok spokeswoman Megan Cook. Even @Olympics isn’t allowed to post in-game content from the Tokyo Olympics. (Although this video addressing particularly pernicious rumors about the cardboard beds has done well.)
“Although copyright violations do occur, they are routinely stopped quickly and the infringing viewership is small compared to the billions of streaming minutes that will be legitimately consumed on our platforms and throughout our digital partnerships,” said an NBC spokesman.
Cook said TikTok takes copyright infringement “very seriously” and the company is working with NBC to ensure that its intellectual property is protected by TikTok.
Some athletes are working around the rules.
“[NBC is] very intense about it, which is a shame,” said Ian Gunther, a member of the U.S. men’s gymnastics national team. Gunther posts videos breaking down different skills and educating his 122,000 TikTok followers about the history of men’s gymnastics. He said he hoped splicing videos and adding annotations may help him get around the rules if he posts any clips of his friends and teammates competing in this year’s Olympics at all.
NBC wouldn’t say whether it’s considered changing its rules to allow athletes and online creators to share their own recorded or screen-grabbed content. But Lyndsay Signor, senior vice president of marketing at NBC Sports Group, said the company understands that audiences on TikTok are looking for something different from traditional NBC Olympics coverage.
“I think it’s understood at this point that we need to make sure that we’re not just trying to take something for linear [broadcasting] or a website or even Instagram and just put it on TikTok or Twitter or anywhere else,” she said.
NBC’s own Olympics-themed TikTok account, @NBCOlympics, is filled with highlights from competition, like weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal for the Philippines and American gymnast Sunisa Lee’s bar routine. It also dips into some classic TikTok formats, like the video where American taekwondo athlete Anastasija Zolotic kicks away superimposed text like “cheugy people” and “bad WiFi.”
Even with the introduction of NBC’s streaming service Peacock, watching the Olympics without a cable subscription has been complicated for many. But younger viewers may have it easier, according to Gunther.
“You don’t have to rely on your parents watching the Olympics anymore,” he said of broadcast coverage. “It’s going to be more accessible on TikTok.”
TikTok Expands Creator Tipping and Video Gifts, Providing More Monetization and Marketing Options
TikTok continues to expand its creator monetization tools with the addition of video tipping and virtual gifts for regular uploads, in addition to live-streams in the app.
To be clear, live tipping and digital gifts have been available for selected live-stream creators via its Creator Next program since last year. This new expansion brings the same functionality to regular TikTok videos, which will add another way for users to generate direct income from their TikTok videos.
As you can see in these screenshots, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra (via Dan Schenker), to be eligible for the new Creator Next program, users will need to have at least 1,000 followers, and will need to have generated more than 1,000 video views in the previous 30 days.
Though TikTok does note that these requirements vary by region – TechCrunch has reported that creators need to have at least 100k followers to qualify in some cases.
As explained by TikTok:
“The new Tips feature allows people to directly show gratitude to creators for their content, much like recognizing exceptional service or giving a standing ovation. As is standard for tipping in person, with Tips creators will receive 100% of the tip value.”
Tip payments will be processed by Stripe, with creators required to sign up to manage their earnings in the app.
“With Video Gifts, also available today, creators can now collect Diamonds not only by going LIVE but also by posting videos. This also gives people an all-new way to interact and engage with content they love.”
That will provide expanded capacity to generate real money from posting, without having to go live, which will open new doors to many TikTok creators.
In addition to this, TikTok’s also lowering the threshold for those who can list their profiles in its Creator Marketplace brand collaboration platform, which enables businesses to find TikTok influencers to partner with on in-app campaigns.
Up till now, creators have required 100k followers to qualify for these listings, but now, TikTok is reducing that number to 10k, which will further expand available opportunities for both users and brands.
That could make it much easier to find relevant creators to partner with, in a lot more niches, which will add more considerations into your TikTok posting and engagement process.
As noted, these are the latest in TikTok’s broader efforts to provide comparable monetization opportunities, in order to keep its top stars posting to the platform, as opposed to drifting off to YouTube or Instagram instead, which have more established monetization systems.
The advantage that other apps have in this respect is that longer videos can include pre-roll and mid-roll ads, facilitating direct monetization, which TikTok can’t utilize given the shorter nature of its clips. As such, it needs to look to alternate funding methods, which will also include eCommerce listings, with direct product displays now the primary source of income for the Chinese version of the app.
The platform’s continued growth facilitates even more opportunities in this respect, with more brands looking to tap into the various opportunities of the platform, and partner with creators to maximize their presence.
How popular, and valuable, direct tipping and gifting can be is more variable, as some dedicated fan bases will pay, while others will see no reason to donate for what they can already access for free.
But even so, it adds more opportunity, and the lower thresholds for monetization will see many more opportunities across the board in the app.
Shorter Videos Are In Demand. Here’s How Different Social Media Platforms Are Reacting.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
With TikTok and Instagram Reels slowly conquering social media marketing, there’s no mistake: Short videos are in demand.
The average length for most, if not all, business videos is only six minutes long. And that number is set to decrease as consumers look for shorter videos.
With that in mind, why are short videos in demand? What platforms are implementing short-form videos the best? And most importantly, how can they benefit your business?
TikTok – Changing consumerism, one video at a time
Where shorter videos are concerned, TikTok has always led the industry. What started as a merger with Musical.ly quickly became one of the world’s most powerful social media platforms. And what made it so famous? The same concept that made Vine viral short videos.
TikTok has over 1 billion active users, twice as many as Snapchat and Pinterest. For reference, Twitter only has 397 million users. With such a massive user-base, the only thing keeping the platform alive are the 15-second-long videos.
But why are short videos so popular? Simple – people don’t have time on their hands. When they open apps like TikTok and Instagram, they’re more likely to spend time watching shorter videos. And businesses are already catching up.
The impact of Instagram Reels
With the invention of Stories by Snapchat, other platforms like Instagram caught up on short videos. Instagram Reels presents adults and young users with a more straightforward way to tell others about their day. It employs quick photos and videos that are only available for 24 hours instead of being permanently posted. Now engagement is encouraged, especially after Instagram included the “Swipe” option. This has allowed e-commerce sites to both advertise their products and make instant messaging easier.
Youtube has joined the bandwagon
While YouTube is more or less a platform for long-form videos, its recent update offers shorter vertical videos. Known as YouTube Shorts, the feature allows creators to engage with their audience in under 60 seconds.
But YouTube has another trick up its sleeve, and this one is mainly towards advertisers. It is “YouTube TrueView” and is the primary advertising technology for YouTube. Through this, advertisers can promote long or short videos, with some being skippable after five seconds.
However, since most people are unlikely to click on longer ads, YouTube now offers 6-second non-skippable ads. The clickthrough rate for shorter 15 and 30-second ads is around 70%, a whopping number for any business.
It’s time to say goodbye to IGTV
With Instagram’s IGTV coming off as less captivating than its Reels and video posts, it has decided to remove IGTV. Instead, it has a separate section for videos. These videos will appear on a person’s profile and can be viewed from the Instagram app.
The change they made here is that videos posted to the Instagram feed can be up to 60 minutes long. The exact reason for doing this is not confirmed. But it seems like Instagram wants a seamless platform where short and long videos co-exist.
This makes long videos more accessible to users using the Instagram app. And it helps promote video tutorials that people typically do not consume on social media apps.
Another significant change is that Instagram videos that are longer can be monetized, a feature not available on Reels. This significantly shifts the focus towards creators who don’t sell a service and want to gain cash through Instagram.
Does this mean long-form videos are out of the picture?
With short-form videos becoming more popular among consumers, will long-form videos die out? While it’s highly recommended for any business to create videos as short as possible, the answer isn’t that black and white.
While short-form videos will drive traffic from new users, long-form videos are better for brand loyalty. Shorter videos will get more engagement and show up on new users’ feeds. But longer videos will be the backbone of your business.
Of course, that depends on what service you’re offering. Ecommerce companies will want to direct their attention towards short-form videos and ads. However, long-form videos are better suited for when you want to go in-depth about product details. That is, of course, only after you’ve grabbed the user’s attention with a short-form video.
Companies that offer webinars will benefit from longer videos. And so will companies that post interviews. However, promos and how-to videos should remain under a minute or two, depending on how long the tutorial needs to be.
Essentially, ask yourself two questions:
- First, can the video content be summarized in a short-form video?
- Do you want to merely catch the attention of the consumer or develop brand loyalty?
The correct formula is neither short nor long, but a mix of both.
What this all means for an entrepreneur
Short-form videos hold substantial market value, especially for new businesses. Take the example of the Dollar Shave Club. What started as a viral video on YouTube grew to become a behemoth of a brand.
And that’s not where the examples end. There are countless success stories like this one that prove the value of short videos.
Short videos have a higher clickthrough rate, and for entrepreneurs, that’s all you need. Short videos are of particular interest to people with ecommerce businesses. For example, 84% of people say they are more compelled to buy a product by watching a video. And the statistics keep on showing a friendlier short-video market.
There is no doubt that short-form videos are gradually creeping up the graph. And while long-form videos are great for information and brand loyalty, shorter videos are better for PR.
This begs one last question: Are videos beneficial for you? The answer is – yes!
How to Make a TikTok Video: Beginners Start Here
And with 1 billion monthly active users, it’s time to join the action and get your brand out there to a wider audience!
Want to learn how to make a TikTok Video but don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it! We broke down all the steps and tools you’ll need to make a viral-worthy first video and make sure your debut is anything but cringe.
Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to prioritize and plan your social strategy in 2022.
How to create a TikTok account
First things first, you’ll need to create a TikTok account.
There are different ways to sign up for one: you can use your phone number, email address or social media account. Here’s how to do it using your phone number.
1. Download TikTok from Google Play or the App Store.
2. Open the TikTok App on your iPhone or Android.
3. Click the “Me” or “Profile” icon at the bottom-right of your screen.
4. Choose a method to sign up (we’re choosing “use phone or email”)
5. Enter your birth date and phone number (make sure this is accurate because it’s how you’ll retrieve passwords and confirm your account).
6. Enter the 6-digit code sent to that phone number (see, told ya!)
7. You did it! Celebrate by scrolling TikTok for too many hours.
How to make a TikTok video
Here’s how to get started on your very first TikTok video. Luckily for you, it’s way easier than learning this TikTok Shuffle dance.
1. Hit the + sign at the bottom of your screen.
2. You can upload photos and videos from your phone’s library or make a video directly using the TikTok camera.
3. If recording directly, hit the Record button at the bottom of the screen. Hit it again when you’re done recording. The default video mode is “Quick” which is for 15 second videos but you can switch it to “Camera” for more editing options and longer videos (15s, 60s and 3 mins), or “Templates” to create a specific style of video.
4. Tap the check mark when you’re done shooting all your footage.
5. Make any edits or changes on the post page. All your edits are on the right sidebar of the screen. Also, add music or sounds by hitting “Add sound” at the top of the screen.
6. Post that video and share it everywhere! Make sure to include a description with some hashtags so it finds its way to your audience.
How to make a TikTok with multiple videos
Instead of taking one long video, why not capture shorter videos and edit them together to make your TikTok video? Here’s how to do that (and you don’t need a film degree).
1. Hit that “+” sign to start your video
2. You can either shoot multiple videos directly by hitting that record button after each clip, building up your video with different shots. Or, you can hit the “Upload” button next to the record button and add multiple videos and photos you have stored on your phone.
3. Select all your media and tap Next.
4. You can now sync sound across your videos and make adjustments (or try “Auto sync” which will do the syncing up for you.)
5. Hit Next when done. You’ll be brought to a preview screen where you can further add sounds, more effects, text, and stickers.
6. Tap Next when you’re done editing your video and proceed to the Post screen.
7. Remember to throw in a description and some hashtags and bingo-bango-bongo you’re the Steven Spielberg of TikTok!
5 things to know before creating your first TikTok
TikTok style is less polished than other types of video
Don’t worry about being too precious with your videos. On TikTok, videos are meant to be candid, and natural—and they should show off your personality. Things like perfect edits, smooth transitions or flawless lighting shouldn’t get in the way of your idea and your own charisma.
Sure, there are lots of editing options, effects and filters to choose from (what the heck is the difference between B3 and G4 filters anyways?) but the real star is you —or, at least all 6 of these friends belting out Lady Gaga for the #caughtinabadromance challenge at this bachelorette. If that’s not candid, I don’t know what is.
You don’t have to dance
Good news! You don’t have to spend 2 hours trying to perfect the LaLisa dance tutorial to make sure your video stands out (unless you want to, then no judgment over here!).
There are so many different ways to engage your followers that don’t involve you popping and locking in your living room in front of a ring light (but again, no judgement if you do, except maybe from your pet and their adorable judging eyes).
You also don’t have to attempt whatever this is.
Hashtags can help more people see your post
It’s no secret a good hashtag can go a long way on TikTok. Strategic use of hashtags will help people find your videos who don’t already follow you, and maybe even see it on their For You Page (FYP).
The right song can go a long way
Attaching a trending song to your video or audio from a popular TikTok video can help it get seen by more people. This app has a big music following (lots of new songs are intentionally promoted through the app to help them climb the music charts) so lassoing your video to one of these shooting stars is only going to help you get on more FYP and in front of new audiences.
Your greatest asset is you
Don’t overthink it, just come up with a simple idea and let your personality shine through. The sense of intimacy and community that TikTok brings is why people love this app—it feels personal.
Even if you’re doing a TikTok challenge or trend that’s popular, the thing that will make you stand out is your unique take on it. It’s not about gimmicks but about putting your best self out there. Nothing should feel too staged or self-aware (that’s cringe territory). Pretend your audience are your good friends and approach it with that energy!
@janikon_No, I can’t re-record this, I’m laughing too hard #fyp♬ original sound – Stu (he/him)
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