Public broadcast news on TikTok: are they ridiculing the license fee payers?
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TikTok has been in the top 10 most downloaded apps for months. The social network is particularly popular with younger users. Basically, it offers a content similar to Instagram stories - only that this content doesn't delete itself. Now a German TV News show is also taking part. Good idea or a waste of our license fee?
The news show is called the Tagesschau (literally "newsreel" in English) and is the best known (news) program on German television. It can't get any more penile and stiff than this, can it? This news item has now opened its TikTok channel. You what? Yes, TikTok. The app, which has become something of a successor to Instagram in favor of young users, has already been downloaded billions of times worldwide and is enjoying ever greater popularity. The Facebook effect continues. No teenager logs on to Facebook anymore because there is only the parent generation left. They're all over at the new Facebook, Instagram. The result: young people are looking for something new again. And that's TikTok. The target group is still felt among itself there.
A translation of the Tweet below: "We're trying something out: The Tagesschau is now also available on TikTok."
Wir probieren etwas aus: Die tagesschau gibt's jetzt auch auf TikTok. https://t.co/H1v2Y3zU0h pic.twitter.com/7gvnyUoxq0— tagesschau (@tagesschau) November 20, 2019
What do you actually do on TikTok?
A brief explanation. Unlike Instagram, TikTok is about moving images. Originally about synchronized videos, TikTok is the successor of Musical.ly, an app that followed a similar principle until 2018 and also peaked its popularity.
So at TikTok, you watch short videos in which - mostly young - people show witty, sporty or personal commitment. You hear the soundtrack of a music hit, a film scene or something else. But that's not it: TikTok offers a breathtaking selection of video filters that give free rein to creativity.
But in the end, TikTok is a simple video platform in portrait format - mobile-only. Users can also upload and distribute complete videos with real audio tracks. Important - TikTok is not a second YouTube. So you won't find videos lasting hours or minutes; everything is crisp and short, the maximum would be a video that combines four 15-seconds into one minute. Then it's over. But there is also the MV function for uploading - here you upload a slide show, which - like the videos - can then be provided with texts, filters, and effects.
What is a TV news show doing on TikTok?
TikTok is, therefore, a simple and at the same time complex platform. Easy to operate, with unbelievable possibilities. TikTok determines trends. The creators of the app use the principle of eternal scrolling. In the home area, one video after the other is played back algorithmically at random. Under "Discover" you will find the charts. TikTok also works with hashtags. And where hashtags are, marketing experts and reach gurus are not far away. To occupy, define and popularize a hashtag is worth real money - even if TikTok is not a direct traffic-bringer for websites. Not yet, because the "link in bio" method - already known from Instagram - has long been tested.
But now we finally build the bridge to television news. Of course, the news program does not want to broadcast a quarter of an hour's news every day at 20:00 so that the young target audience can watch decent news. That's technically impossible. Instead, they want to use the platform to publish short explanatory videos on hot topics. Classical work according to an educational mandate. The series "Kurz erklärt" (Short explanation) with which the ARD program (a German public broadcasting corporation) has already had viral success in the established social networks is to be extended to TikTok and offer adapted content (both in terms of portrait format and the content itself). An entertaining aspect should always be part of the game, but serious topics should not stop at TikTok. So we can also look forward to outtakes and behind-the-scenes clips.
The first video of the Tagesschau on TikTok is one of the casual kind. Chief speaker Jan Hofer tries out different effects on his tie. Underlaid with the song "My Type" by "Saweetie", garnished with the question of what to wear here (at TikTok). Somewhat too intentionally targeting the young, but not bad for the beginning - and who am I anyway to judge that as a guy in his late 20s.
Becoming an influencer has never been easier
What follows is still written in the stars, because there is no second video. But what is possible with TikTok is shown by the visible insights: the video has now been online for a couple of days The Tagesschau account has almost 30,000 followers, more than 91,000 likes and - the best for all "scalability" junkies: the video has been viewed almost 740,000 times so far. So you don't have to be a prophet to say: TikTok will change and influence the media world quite a bit. The advertising industry still has little to say here, in the absence of direct possibilities. However, the influencer business known from Instagram should continue to gain momentum on TikTok.
Despite all the colorful social media fantasy, TikTok should always be seen with a watchful and critical eye. Because of the unauthorized data processing of users under 13 years, the app already had to pay a $5.7 million fine. The addiction potential and the distraction caused by the app are also problematic.
The dusty news on TikTok - does that fit?
Should the Tagesschau invest resources, i.e. editorial hours, infrastructure and video editing in TikTok or is this a pure waste of broadcasting fees? I mean - the Tagesschau is going exactly the right way. What sounds like a sentence from a bad seminar is true: "We must catch young people where they are". And before the windy salesmen, in the worst case also infamous Fake News propagators are, one of the German leading media of the news world is clearly preferable to me.
Speaking of media criticism: German tabloid newspaper, Bild, doesn't like the Tagesschau engagement so much. The accusation: TikTok is indirectly under the control of the Chinese government and censors content at its discretion. Criticism, which seems quite appropriate, may be that the Tagesschau also wants to address exactly these topics and does so directly on the platform.
Maybe the Tagesschau makes itself ridiculous here and there or even vulnerable. But the risk of being one of the first major media to explore the new platform can pay off. And not with money.
Have you had any experience with TikTok? Should we also bring AP to TikTok? Let us know!
Will this madness finally stop when we get a social media platform for toddlers ? The "old" traditional TV was able to unite families and generations in front of a screen to get submerged by lies. Nowadays social media divide families and generations in front of individual screens to get equally submerged by lies but more effective and targeted ones. Is this progress ?