Out of a combination of unrelenting pressure from my children and some innate personal curiosity, I downloaded TikTok. Unless you’ve spent 2020 in a cave (and if you have, lucky you), you’ve likely heard of this social media platform. TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance. The social media platform is used to make and share short videos ranging in genre from dance to comedy to tutorials. The videos are 15 seconds to one minute long. Thanks to the simplicity of the app, it’s very easy to become a content provider.
Every few years, a new app takes over our screen time, bandwidth, and conversation. TikTok is having its 15 minutes – or more accurately, 15 seconds – of fame in 2020. Its popularity in the U.S. started among teens about two years ago, primarily with dance and lip-sync videos. But talk about being in the right place (our phones), at the right time (during a global pandemic). TikTok’s explosive success in 2020 hinged on Gen Zers being stuck at home with literally nothing to do as the world went on pause due to Covid-19.
Even though I’m a few decades older than its target user, I was intrigued by how the app might inform our innovation at Ecosystems in 2021.
The first thing I noticed is how different the setup experience is. In other social media apps, you choose which accounts to follow. In TikTok, the content rolls over you like crashing waves. This endless stream of videos is uniquely tailored to each user, and its content is determined by the user’s “For You” page. If a video is appealing (determined by users sharing the video or watching it in full), TikTok then shows it to more people who it thinks share similar interests. It is re-shared quickly by the algorithm on the ‘For You’ page and gains millions of views. The app claims that no two feeds are exactly the same.
As a wave of content comes at you, the single source of navigation is your thumb. Thumb down to move forward to new content, or thumb up to go back to what you’ve already seen. There is an elegant simplicity to it, as the user does not have time to think, he or she just reacts. That instant feedback is how the algorithm learns. More than any other social media app, TikTok’s core product is its algorithm. TikTok avoids boredom by not exclusively pushing content that fits the user’s known favorite themes and genres. As a result, health and fitness enthusiasts will get a few gooey cookie recipes. TikTok recognizes that contrast is just as important as similarity to maintain engagement and regularly exposes users to new experiences. How will you know you like it if you don’t try it?
At Ecosystems, we have a patent-pending algorithm in our platform in incubation where the user reacts to outcome templates served up in a waterfall of content. Like TikTok, the user swipes up or down to train the algorithm. This will create a shifting feed of topics. We will deliver each of the 36 different Bain Elements of Value (EoVs) for a user to react to. Each template will include a like count and comments from prior users.
On TikTok, all content is user-generated which means it is infinite. Ecosystems also has in incubation a standalone Value Builder, a self-service application for our customers to author their own unique value content. Those companies part of the Ecosystem Community will be exposed to infinite ways to quantify and structure customer value.
At Ecosystems, we see innovation in everything around us. We intentionally look outside of our industry and study models as diverse as social media platforms designed for young people to design and iterate on our new breakthrough innovations for 2021.
Chad Quinn, CEO, Ecosystems
Chad Quinn is the CEO of Ecosystems. For over 20 years, Chad has led the organization, focusing on helping Fortune 500 companies set up Value Management Offices (VMOs) to discover, quantify, and track business outcomes. Chad’s passion is to impact the lives of others. As host of the Voice of Value podcast, he discusses with B2B sales, marketing, and customer success leaders how to make your value clear. When he is not interviewing podcast guests, like Stanley McChrystal, J.B. Wood, or Beth Comstock, Chad enjoys long walks to Mars.