No picking fights: How creators can keep viewers entertained, informed on TikTok

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 24 2023 10:09 AM

Swan Anding Meraluo dances in front of a mobile phone rig hoping that 2 performances a day for her TikTok account might hit a jackpot of 'likes', in Quezon City on May 4, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Swan Anding Meraluo dances in front of a mobile phone rig hoping that 2 performances a day for her TikTok account might hit a jackpot of "likes", in Quezon City on May 4, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — In an app like TikTok where only short videos are allowed, how can content creators keep their audience entertained and informed?

"Content has to be quick, quippy, and quotable," said education content creator Lyqa Maravilla, who has 1.1 million followers on the video-sharing platform.

"The average watch time is a couple of seconds. If you don’t get their attention in those seconds, mawawala na sila," she explained.

Maravilla also noted that creators should make their content more relatable to the audience. 

"Pwede pong humugot, ‘no, pwede naman na gumamit ng mga kuwento, para mas matandaan nila," she said. 

Veteran journalist Malou Mangahas also shared similar advice.

"So in television, print, or social media, online, we always say that good writers pay attention to 3 elements in the story: elements that would touch the heart, the brain, the mind, and the gut. So sa Tagalog, isip, puso, kiliti," she said. 

TikTok, a global entertainment platform where users have been known to start and join dance crazes, has since been penetrated by various subject matter experts who aim to inform and educate users on a range of topics, from health to teaching to media literacy.

Maravilla said there are many ways by which creators can keep their audience engaged on TikTok.

"There’s a huge variety of things that work. I'm not asking you to dance, kasi yung iba mga sumasayaw na lang din tapos lalagyan natin, hindi naman nila kailangan gawin yun, far am I willing to go? What are the things that work that I’m willing to do? So there’s always that balance kasi we see people maximize what works," she said. 

"If you don’t want to be like them, you need to be in the same space, the same platform, have the same reach, there has to be a few--not compromise--but we can learn from them. "

Mangahas, for her part, said creators should always work hard to produce good content.

"Don’t think you would wing it by just singing or dancing. It’s important to be prepared, to actually know the various techniques you could employ. Or the sharpness of content you could render," the journalist said. 

"It doesn’t mean that you will just go on cam and do your thing. But remember the best comedians, stand-up comics that you see, they prepare so hard to make their renditions very very sharp and crisp. So it’s not something that comes to you all at once like enlightenment, or a moment of truth. It’s something you really work hard for," she added.

"That shows the respect you have for your audience. That shows the quality of content that you could render." 

Mangahas also cautioned creators against picking fights online just to get "viral" content.

"Everybody, whether legacy media or social media or online media, we’re seduced by virality, that possibility that, we really can make a big hit this time. A home run this time. But I think that is also probably [a] lot less important to people who want to go for the long haul," she noted.

"You want an audience that stays with you. You want an audience that respects you. You want an audience that will remember you for longer. So I think virality is something that could be instant pleasure, but that is not something you would want as an author, a creator who wants to build a portfolio of good content."

"I’m saying that, you know, it has to be a pattern of consistently doing good. And virality is not just a function of being so angry, so virulent or so risqué, I think virality could also be a function of producing good content, technique-wise, content-wise," she said.

TikTok Philippines head of public policy Kristoffer Rada also advised creators to keep creating quality content consistently.

"Let’s not look for a home run. Sometimes, what wins you the game is just walking the bases one at a time. And that will get you enough hits to win the game."

Maravilla, Mangahas, and Rada spoke at TikTok Philippines' digital literacy forum, where they discussed the importance of good behavior in digital spaces.

Mangahas said content creators, whether they are journalists or vloggers, should be ethical across all social media platforms.

"Credibility is what people say we are. Ethics is what kind of people we are. So even when no one is looking, I think ethical conduct, offline, online, social media, legacy media should all be the same," she noted.

"Minimize harm, respect privacy. These are not just legal frameworks or rules, but it is also good behavior toward neighbors," she added.