TikTok could be set to lay down an Uno “Reverse” card on Meta, with new job listings from the app indicating that it’s seeking to develop more social engagement features, which could include messaging, new sharing functions, in-stream chats, and more.
As reported by Axios, TikTok has posted several new job ads relating to social networking elements that it’s seeking to develop.
As per Axios:
“In roles posted for Android and iOS engineers based in San Jose, California, TikTok says the team is looking to build a platform that “enables users to meet and interact with their real-life friends seamlessly on TikTok, and encourage them to share their life moments with each other and stay connected regardless of where they are”. Another job listing, for a product manager for “TikTok Social” based in San Jose, says the company is looking “to expand the boundaries of TikTok by encouraging building meaningful social connections between users.”
Which is a shift in focus for TikTok, which thus far has sought to use its all-powerful AI system to highlight the best video clips from across the entire app, as opposed to limiting users to content from their specific friend and following segments.
But the concern, seemingly, is that many users are sharing TikTok clips off-platform, and discussing them in other apps. The broader trend in social media is that users are now sharing more and more content via DMs, with smaller groups, and it could be that TikTok has seen a sharp rise in people using its sharing tools to push content, and engagement, off-platform, which has now prompted it to explore its own in-stream opportunities.
Which, as noted, could see the app looking to replicate some of Meta’s app features, an interesting reversal of the more common duplication path of late.
And it makes sense. TikTok does already offer basic messaging, but the lack of emphasis on building a social graph in the app means that most people have larger and more specific networks elsewhere. That would be why more people are sharing TikTok clips in other spaces, and if TikTok can keep more of that interaction in its own platform, that could help to expand its utility, and help it branch into more areas.
Which could include shopping, and facilitating in-stream purchases. That’s where TikTok has seen the most revenue success in Asian markets, and if it can get more people spending more time in the app, and engaging in a broader range of activities, maybe that will help to fuel different types of engagement.
Like connecting with brands, and sending DMs about products. The more that TikTok can make this a habitual behavior, the more likely it will be to expand its opportunities, and as such, it seems like a logical progression for the platform to investigate.
There’s not much to go on as yet, but it does seem like TikTok will be wading into new engagement territory in the near future.
We’ll keep you updated on any progress.