TikTok controversy highlights social media short-form video challenges

Jan 11, 2023 | Digital

Social media company TikTok is, arguably, the most addictive and entertaining platform currently available. The company has also been embroiled in controversy since its infancy, and reports about national security concerns followed by state governments across the U.S. banning the platform are some of the latest tensions surrounding it.

It is important to note that social media controversies and missteps tend to involve speech, censorship and a variety of leadership personas. However, the issue at hand with TikTok may feel a bit more tangible as it specifically involves data – your data.

TikTok controversy highlights social media short-form video challenges.

Enter the world of short-form video

First, let’s dive into the medium that is TikTok – namely, the short-form video. 

The short-form video is a relatively new concept that grew exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. TikTok, YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels from Meta are top players in this field, followed by Snapchat’s Spotlight, Pinterest’s Watch, Netflix’s Short Laughs and Triller, where music fans post short videos to popular music tracks.

Twitter was the pioneer in grabbing the attention of young people using short videos. After acquiring the Vine app in 2012, Twitter paused this project to focus on monetization, but the company is currently considering a new “Explore” tab to showcase short videos. 

With so many swimmers in the pool, marketers have plenty of future options. As of now, TikTok leads the charge. Its timely acquisition of musical.ly in 2017 helped it move into the U.S. market, allowing users to develop short lip-sync videos on their social media platforms.

TikTok is also integrated with Shopify and offers ad revenue generation capabilities. Nonetheless, Shorts have ads integrated, and Reels is catching up too. A benefit to using Shorts is its ability to integrate seamlessly with Google’s analytics tools, assisting in its efforts to improve performance. All these companies and their products are evolving, providing more benefits to users as controversy continues to follow TikTok, which has also gained momentum. 

A history of controversy

TikTok, launched in 2016 by Byte Dance, allows users to create short-form videos at various lengths and often features music. TikTok has more than 1 billion active users worldwide and is the most downloaded app on the Apple Store. It was also the third-most downloaded app on Google Play in quarter two of 2022.

Even though TikTok proposes to shift the U.S. consumer data to Oracle, a U.S.-based server, or delete the consumer data, data privacy remains a concern. Another major issue has focused on inappropriate content displayed for young people on the platform.

TikTok controversy highlights social media short-form video challenges.

Furthermore, as the company is based in China, the Chinese government could access Americans’ personal identifiable information.

In the U.S., Nebraska banned TikTok in 2020 in government branches and on state government-issued devices. More recently, South Dakota, North Dakota, South Carolina, Maryland, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Utah, Georgia, Virginia and New Hampshire have banned the app on state-owned devices over security concerns based on insights from the federal agency investigating TikTok for the past three years. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has also introduced legislation to ban TikTok on all federal government-issued devices. This has led to discussions of a total ban in the U.S.

Considering the recent developments and the ambiguity of TikTok’s future in the U.S. market, we recommend proceeding with caution and considering equally powerful platforms like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels to reach a similar audience demographic. Moreover, GAVIN’s value proposition is to protect what is vital to our clients, think on their behalf proactively and advise them to keep their content secure and marketing plans productive and sustainable for the long term.

YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels accept the challenge

YouTube Shorts was launched in 2020 by Google. The platform garnered more than 1.5 billion logged-in users by June 2022 and has scaled exponentially due to enhanced features and a rich creative one-stop shopping experience, providing short-form, long-form, live and audio options. It is now viewable via a T.V. app to increase its footprint. Its user base is very similar to TikTok, and Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, focuses on further developing and investing in YouTube Shorts.

Reels was launched in 2020 by Meta. Starting with 15-second videos, it expanded to 90-second videos with audio, effects and new creative tools with searchable hashtags. Reels is set on a solid growth projection as it is increasingly popular with young people. Instagram recently included Notes, a 60-character note to followers or close friends to increase its portfolio of features and to combat the gap created in the market by Twitter’s current chaos. 

Staying true to your values

This high-growth potential market for short-video social media platforms has several companies focusing on investing and integrating services to provide more robust solutions.

However, as digital is a very dynamic market, we constantly monitor the latest trends and products and work to ensure our client’s values are honored by selecting the social platforms that most benefit them in the long term.

GAVIN can manage any platform or future add-on feature for our clients. We are committed to serving our clients in the best way possible, which includes staying up to date with current digital events. Connect with our digital team today.