Every year on #SocialMediaDay, we celebrate social media’s impact on communication and culture, and 2020 has given us plenty to look at.
While the novel coronavirus pandemic has been driving us apart physically, social media has enabled us to maintain our social bonds.
The global protests against anti-Black racism, too, have relied heavily on social media platforms to organize, mobilize and inform.
And when it comes to social media in 2020, it’s impossible to ignore TikTok. The video platform has garnered more than 800 million users, 42 per cent of whom are below the age of 24.
For Isabelle Chapadeau, TikTok has become an opportunity to educate others, in Canada and abroad, about Inuit culture. The 22-year-old, who lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut, started a series of educational videos in June and has gained more than 25,000 followers in less than a month.
“I didn’t know what to do about racism right now because it’s been in my life since forever,” she said in the first video, which garnered more than 166,000 views.
“That’s why I’m going to show you a bit of my culture every day.”
Chapadeau says she wanted to share her culture with people, including Inuit youth who have been adopted out of their communities. But it’s also been an opportunity for her to learn more about Inuit culture.
She’s planning to stop the series after 20 days and transition to producing professional videos of the land. But she says she’s keeping it “no pressure” online.
For others, like Solomon Harper, TikTok is an opportunity to build towards their dream career.
The 17-year-old self-taught dancer joined the platform in March, and in just three months, his dance videos have brought him more than 26,000 followers.
“I never thought I would get that much,” he said. “I’ve been trying to post daily to grow more.”
Each day, the teenager from St. Theresa Point, Man., spends up to two hours researching trends, learning choreography and perfecting his posts. He hopes these efforts to grow his online presence can help his professional dance career.
“I want to be known in the dance community. My goals are to make dance programs for First Nations communities,” he says.
While dance videos are popular on the platform, they’re not the key to success for everyone.
Myah Elliott says it’s all about finding your niche and building community.
For the 19-year-old from Vaughan, Ont., TikTok fame came almost overnight. The creator started with dance videos before finding her voice through an “unpopular opinion” series in March.
Elliott jumped from 300 to 70,000 followers within a matter of months. She now posts four times a day and experiments with various series, where she goes from reading her childhood diary to reviewing zodiac signs.
When people ask her how she built an audience so quickly, the creator says it’s all about authenticity.
“It’s just doing things that other people aren’t doing and finding a spot where you’re just relatable,” she says.
“Connecting with people is so easy to do.”
Through posting on TikTok, Elliott hopes her audience will spill over to other platforms such as YouTube. But for now, she says she’s just “going with the flow” and seeing what happens next.