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Understanding TikTok Strategy – How it leverages AI capabilities

Tiktok strategy

In this blog, we will discuss about the Tiktok strategy and sudden rise of Tiktok in past few years and how it managed to gain popularity from users all over the world.We will understand the Tiktok strategy and the recent controversies it had faced in multiple countries and how it had managed to navigate it’s way out of this crisis.

Emergence of Tiktok

  1. Tiktok is a video sharing platform whose roots are based out of China.When we analyse the leading technology companies from china, the three companies that come to our mind immediately is BAT – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.
  2. Baidu has revolutionized internet browsing in China and people over there do not use Chrome.Alibaba is the leading ecommerce provider in China and is so much popular in China that Amazon had to close its offices in China because it was not able to compete with it.Tencent is a leading messaging platform in China and almost all chinese use Tencent as a chat application as against WhatsApp.
  3. Inspite of the tremendous succeses, BAT companies have in China, these companies could not replicate the same success in other parts of the world.Alibaba has a good presence in South east Asia but was not able to penetrate in Western economies.
  4. Tiktok has able to overcome this as it has become the third most downloaded app in play store in 2019 after WhatsApp and Messenger. The company has a global audience in US, India, Brazil and in Europe.

Tiktok Strategy in detail

  1. Tiktok is a video sharing platform that is extremely popular among teenagers and young populations where they share their videos.These videos can be easily created by users with its customer friendly editing tools along with the filters and other trending suggestions that Tiktok provides in order to make their videos more popular. These videos are for extremely short duration.
  2. Tiktok leverage Artificial Intelligence to generate customized videos according to the user preferences. Based on the likes and comments shared by the users while watching the videos, Tiktok AI algorithms delivers videos based on users past behavior which catches the attention of the users.Infact TikTok AI algorithms are so good that they are able to understand the user desires more than what the user understands about themselves.
  3. As the videos are for shorter duration, Tiktok segregates users based on how long they have watched the video and uses these insights to refine their suggestions.This high prediction in delivering videos based on the user desires has made more people spending time watching videos in Tiktok.In fact people spend 52 minutes a day on an average watching Tiktok which is more than WhatsApp and Instagram
  4. Leveraging AI in creating and delivering videos based on the users interest had resulted in getting more users joining this platform.This has created network effects where more users create more videos which inturn are watched by more people.
  5. This has also drawn advertisers to target users for their business by placing advertisements.As Tiktok understands the users desires which are generally different from their behaviour and preferences they display, these targeted advertisements are able to generate a higher RoI for business than against any other social networking platform.
  6. All these above characteristics has increased Tiktok valuation to $75B which is extremely high for a startup company that launched its international operations as late as 2017.

Controversy surrounding Tiktok

  1. When a platform is purely run by an AI model, this is bound to generate controversies. With AI displaying videos based on the users desires, Tiktok has exposed users to pornographic content and fraudulent people who creates videos to cheat people.This makes the platform vulnerable to fraudulent activities like prostitution and child racketing.
  2. Many countries including US, India, Indonesia and Europe had levied penalties on Tiktok and had also banned Tiktok as it exposes the younger people to pornographic activities.In US, Tiktok was fined by FTC as it collected the data of children who are below 13 years without taking consent from their parents to deliver videos based on their desires.
  3. These heavy bans imposed on Tiktok has made Tiktok delete videos which are highly objectionable from its platform.

How TikTok is overcoming these controversies

  1. Tiktok is using AI to filter the objectionable content that is created in its platform.Although AI is powerful and is able to detect 99% of the objectionable videos, it cannot be 100% fool proof.A 1% leakage will results in thousands of these videos displayed in Tiktok platform due to the high network effects.This may further affect Tiktok reputation and being banned or fined by countries in future.
  2. Hence to counter this, Tiktok is also using humans support to personally check which videos are in conflict with the local country regulation and policies. This is to ensure that the platform adheres to the compliance regulations of local countries.Tiktok has opened offices in all countries where its videos are seen and have hired people only to filter videos after the initial filtering is done by AI.This combination of human support and AI has helped Tiktok to navigate this controversy.

Conclusion

  1. Tiktok strategy of using AI algorithms to deliver videos based on user preferences has made it the third most downloaded app in 2019.
  2. The strategy of having videos for a shorter duration where users can create a skit, memes as well as using split screens to elicit reactions very easily has allowed more users to join the platform and create viral videos easily.
  3. Tiktok also demonstrated how using only AI as a business model can have catastrophic consequences and thereby leveraged the combination of Human and AI model to filter out the objectionable content from its platform.


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