Welcome back to HotToks, where we explain 'the why' behind each viral TikTok trend, tap into key cultural moments, cover app updates, and share how to plan your TikTok marketing strategy. This edition we report on several universities that have banned TikTok on campus, the MEGAN movie marketing blowup on TikTok, and the "podcasts" feature update.
Auburn University is the newest addition to the growing list of American universities to ban TikTok on campus. Also on this list are Boise University, Idaho State University, University of Texas-Austin, University of Oklahoma, and more.
Although TikTok is still accessible to students via a private data connection, the recent ban has confused and surprised students. Junior Elizabeth Hunt says of the ban, “I am a little annoyed that now anytime I want to get on the app, I’m going to have to use data and find ways around it.” The university, however, states that the motive for banning TikTok is to protect information and reduce possible cybersecurity risks associated with using the social media platform.
“I am a little annoyed that now anytime I want to get on the app, I’m going to have to use data and find ways around it.” - Elizabeth Hunt
This discourse continues as policymakers and lawmakers debate the valid concerns of TikTok’s ability to gather so much information on American consumers' lives, practices, and habits. While students say that TikTok has been an integral part of student life and entertainment (i.e., #rushtok, promoting school events, and highlighting school-wide sports events), lawmakers and regulators are concerned that the platform poses a cybersecurity risk for the country and its people.
Since the internal investigation last month found ByteDance employees inappropriately obtaining and using the data of U.S. TikTok users, this debate will likely continue on a larger scale.
Step aside, Alix Earle. M3GAN is the new TikTok (and box-office) it-girl. And she’s ready to play.
As one Tweet says, “well behaved megans seldom make history,” and they are not wrong. So why are we talking about a seemingly mundane creepy-doll horror movie? Well, because the marketing for this movie goes hard. And it’s partially thanks to TikTok.
The genius idea of director Gerard Johnstone—a doll that could dance (and one that’s actually kind of funny)—helped make the movie a viral marketing hit ahead of its January 6th release. Side note: M3GAN also somehow became a queer icon? Since the trailer release in October, there’s been an influx of content on TikTok, Twitter, and even IG, from users recreating M3GAN’s signature moves and making her a meme.
Currently, #m3gan has reached over 1.2B views on TikTok. And it grossed $27M on opening weekend, about $5M more than “Smile” a few months ago. As with all good movie marketing, there’s some sort of real-life element involved (throwback to the IRL smiles for “Smile” that made the box office smile with a domestic gross of $106M). The producer dressed up as M3GAN for the film’s LA premiere in December, where eight other M3GAN look-alikes danced for cameras. And since then, there've been numerous activations where real-life M3GANs are pulling up on the subway, on top of the Empire State Building, on football fields, and on talk shows.
Anything she did in the film took a whole team of experts in animatronics, puppetry, and computer-generated visual effects. Still, it was all worth it, as her droopy sway dance has become a social media hit. As we all know, it doesn’t just take a swanky marketing strategy to get people to stay in the theaters, especially since the timeline of the trailer, marketing activations, and actual movie release were a bit far apart. Like Jason Blum, the “master of horror” producer, says, “it entirely depends on if the movie delivers the promise that the trailer makes. That doesn’t always happen.” And it’s safe to say that “M3GAN” made a big promise. But the movie seems like a good one. Even though the premise of “M3GAN” is seemingly just a scary-yet-real-looking doll protecting a child, the movie touches on rather deep themes like companionship and the impacts of technology.
And, get this: a M3GAN 2 is already being discussed. So if you thought you had seen enough of M3GAN…you haven’t.
TikTok is quietly testing a “podcasts” feature that’ll allow users to continue listening to a TikTok video’s audio while using another app on their phones. TikTok’s foray into the podcast and audio world is another testament to how important video-based podcasts are becoming—in a Morning Consult survey, 46% of over 2,000 respondents said they preferred podcasts that include video.
YouTube’s seamless integration of podcasts has forced companies like Spotify to take integral steps in their strategy, like exclusivity agreements with Joe Rogan and Emma Chamberlain. TikTok and Spotify might go head-to-head in the audio battle down the line. I mean, after all, TikTok has already established itself as a top music discovery platform, and it doesn’t seem to be backing down anytime soon.
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