Everyone’s Trying to Make This TikTok Go Viral—and It’s Never Going to Happen

It would be easy to put this down stan army—the loyal fans of these creators, fighting over videos in a kind of proxy war to honor their communities—but not along such rigid lines. “Anytime there’s a way to quantify popularity online, there’s a group mentality that comes along,” said Kat Tenbarge, an NBC News reporter who covers internet culture. “It’s something to be a part of.”

Indeed, this isn’t the first time a relatively innocuous post has become the most popular on a platform. In January 2019, a Instagram post featuring a picture of an egg received more than 45 million likes in less than two weeks. It Breaking Kylie Jenner’s Record The most liked post in Instagram history thanks to a campaign of sharing hashtags like #EggGang and #EggSoldiers by thousands of users.

WIRED considers the egg to be “the last of the species is dying”, predicting that popular campaigns from ordinary users, rather than professional influencers or brands, will become less noticeable “as social networks mature and develop more coherent business models.” Just two months later, in a major milestone for corporate social media, Indian music conglomerate T-Series sure to beat streamer PewDiePie to become the most subscribed channel on YouTube, despite a campaign from PewDiePie fans involving everything from printer hacking ARRIVE parade in the street.

Put simply, because viral popularity can be directly monetized, there’s little chance of it happening for free. “Mainstream social media platforms have solidified into global community spaces with massive cultural impact,” says Tenbarge. “There’s clear value in dominating the metrics on these platforms, which creates incentives for people to invest their time and attention into such achievements, even if they don’t personally benefit from it.” Halton has a real financial stake in his engagement numbers, but the campaign that drives them has given more casual users what they started with: a sense of community.

There’s also the issue of how ephemeral TikTok can be. The algorithm that powers the app’s For You page is so good at finding engaging content that China has law passed against selling it to Potential US Buyerspeople looking to buy the app after lawmakers passed a law in April forcing parent company ByteDance to divest its ownership of the app or face a ban in the U.S. The downside of that algorithm’s power and intensity is that it blocks the more direct, organic forms of community that were the appeal of social networks in the first place.

In small quantities except, any product, community, or personality with a recognized popularity on TikTok needs to establish a presence outside of the app to survive and maintain its popularity, or else the relentless algorithm will delete it from people’s feeds. The Stanley Quencher water bottle was a huge success last year credited to the appbut this is many years later They first took off thanks to a popular review blog. Abigail Barlow, who Bridge Bridge fan musical written on TikTok won a Grammy in 2022, released a successful single in 2020.

Poarch probably understood this, quickly turning his 15 minutes of TikTok fame into a product line, a music career, and more. Halton followed with a appear on reality TV show. Still, Halton’s video would never have caught up to Poarch without some key factors outside of TikTok, because it’s just that: a video. Unlike its creator, it can’t transcend the app.

For Halton’s video to break the record, it would take massive attention and direction beyond shallow emotional appeal made the video popular in the first place, which is nearly impossible given how much TikTok places emphasis on algorithmic feeds rather than searching for specific content. The people commenting on Halton’s videos, who are dedicated to boosting the clip and tracking the metrics every day, are swimming upstream to get every TikTok in their feed.

With TikTok reportedly developing a new version of its algorithm To get around the ban in the US, it’s worth keeping an eye on how that algorithm shapes what users see, especially how hard it is to fight back. The thousands of comments that track the platform’s most-liked videos show that people don’t always just want what the algorithm gives them, and the fact that they come back every day suggests that they want something that will stay in their lives longer than the next swipe up.


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