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Tik Tok... Hype ≠ Value

Ok, here's my controversial post for the week... Tik Tok.

This is squarely directed at pundits who declare Tik Tok's meteoric rise is proof its the next hot commodity + the future of marketing, advertising, EVERYTHING!

I've two words for you...

  1. Rebranding.

  2. China.

1. Rebranding

Before Tik Tok was Tik Tok it was an app called (founded 2014). was acquired by Bytedance in 2018, who then merged their existing app with, migrated and consolidated all the accounts under one app, Tik Tok.

So a lot of Tik Tok's hype is actually a bait-n-switch, capitalising off a lesser known, more successful app.

If we were to accurately track Tik Tok's growth, we'd have to start in 2014, not 2018.

Instead of a meteoric rise of a billion users in 4 years... it's more like 8 years... accelerated over the last 2 years, thanks to another trend called 'mandatory lockdowns'.


2. China

So China isn't so down with Western social media platforms.

Here's a quick list of social platforms unavailable in the CCP:

  • Facebook + Instagram + WhatsApp

  • Google + G-suite.

  • YouTube

  • Twitter

  • Snapchat

  • Pinterest

  • Tumblr

  • Reddit

  • DailyMotion

  • Vimeo

  • Twitch

  • Pandora

  • Spotify

  • Soundcloud

  • Medium

Even video games, up until recently, were believed to erode values and promote laziness.

So what happens when a Chinese owned tech company, consolidates their version of Instagram-lite, for the largest population on earth with a social media scarcity?

It catches like wildfire.

It was less genius innovation; more that Bytedance became a big fish in a small pond without having to compete with Western platforms.

The deal to acquire was reportedly worth up to $1 billion; Bytedance knew the value in being a sole provider and the potential they could leverage.

It's easy to win a race when there's no competition.


Now, this is not to dismiss Tik Tok's potential as a powerful tool and if you use it, cool.

What concerns me is the 'noise'... the lack of critical awareness and research applied to trends like these and their valuations.

Instead, social media marketers and trendy advertisers seem to glorify stats and draw fruitless comparisons in order to peddle the hype.

This folly of HYPE = VALUE has recently played out in NFT's and crypto, perhaps there's a lesson here?

Perhaps some sober insight into who, what and why we're working with and how it came to be, might be of more value?

Perhaps, all that glitters...


Develop the creative intelligence of you and your team, book your consult here...

For the price of a coffee + chat, I can lead you through a mini-assessment to demonstrate how creativity is never delivered by the new tool, rather a creative shift in your thinking..


Christopher. S. Sellers: Creative Thought Leader + Founder of the Six CREATIVE Skill Sets

Director + Lead Creative @ Black Bulb Creative


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