If we look back on our previous year, which was filled with uncertainty, one of the most notable shifts was the kind of content posted and consumed online. You rarely saw photos of sunny Bali vacations or selfie videos of people watching concerts, unless they were nostalgic posts. Instead, digital platforms were flooded with feeds of people in pajamas, wearing no makeup and mostly at home doing virtual things or trying to stay entertained by posting simply and candidly.
There been a shift in the culture away from inauthenticity on social media – because people have gotten a little tired of that. Especially in 2020, interestingly, people came back to themselves and wanted to share their authenticity. People are looking around, and they're seeing everybody is in the same boat. Seeing more people in similar situations, even virtually, has apparently created a normalizing and calming effect.
The desire for more authentic content is not new. For years, campaigns championing untouched photos of models have gained popularity in advertisements and magazines. As the pandemic has reshaped our lives, we have been exposed to even more unfiltered content, with everyone from celebrities and news anchors to television hosts broadcasting from home.
That authenticity is now extending deeper into social media, as people flock to platforms that embrace posts by anyone, even unknown people out of their circle.
Overall internet consumption has increased during the pandemic, with a surge of 200 million users, as reported by the Association of Internet Service Providers of Indonesia (APJII).More than 50 percent use it for social media and to watch online videos.
The main appeal of TikTok is its focus on humor, with videos ranging from memes and embarrassing moments to videos of surreal visualizations of post-COVID-19 lives. These can be a coping mechanism for the stresses of the pandemic. The look of the creator, or even the quality of the video, is not the top priority. People are more compelled by the content itself, rather than the overall aesthetic.
This is a very important shift. The platform reveals the creativity of raw potential rather than nice backgrounds. Remember the popcorn duet craze? It was entertaining, relatable to many generations and showcased new talent. So much content enables people to be entertained during the crisis by simply using their raw talent.
This has triggered a post-demographic trend in the case of TikTok, where more and more generations have started using the app. When you visit TikTok, you will see millions of users adding to the diversity of content and range of human expression. Being real is the new cultural currency, as today's influence comes from the authentic ideas and imagination of everyday people.
This authenticity has driven brands to change their marketing strategy. TikTok recently conducted a study with Nielsen and found that more than 60 percent of TikTok’s users felt that advertising on TikTok was unique. They found it more authentic, fun, genuine, honest, real and trustworthy than other channels. Brands also engage with the top creators or TikTok users with outstanding views and followers to help their marketing posts become more relatable.
COVID-19 has surely changed the type of content that's being created. We crave connection online because the real-life kind has largely been taken away from us. Authentic creativity is at an all-time high. People and brands are so starving for human interaction that the content we're seeing now is a little more honest, direct and, most importantly, more personal and human.
The writer is a creativity guru, writer of books about creativity, innovation and Indonesian millennials, including Generasi Langgas (Independent Generation), and founder of OMG Consulting.