Let’s take a few psychological factors into account to understand how TikTok attracts and retains its users. There are five primary reasons TikTok’s users can’t seem to stay away from the app!
1. Unpredictable & Unique Content
The unpredictable videos hosted on TikTok are designed to surprise you and make you keep watching without thinking about how much time has passed. The unpredictable videos on its curated playlists give users a feeling of a reward when they discover something new and unique. This keeps users hunting for good videos and encourages them to keep swiping and stay within the app.
Even when the videos don’t match the user’s expectations they only last 15 seconds, making users more willing to continue the search for better content rather than giving up. This minimizes the negative feelings associated with seeing poor content while still providing positive feelings when users find content that matches their interests.
2. Automatic Play
A unique feature of TikTok is that videos continue playing without any interaction from the user. As long as the app is open videos will continue playing. The design of TikTok is it can automatically play videos by itself as long as you open the app.
With videos being only 15 seconds, it’s very easy for users to simply keep watching. With videos starting and ending so quickly it’s very easy to watch video after video with users having little to no concept of how long they’ve been watching.
Before you can even find out what you want to do next, another video has already started encouraging you to just keep watching rather than take some other action.
3. The Zeigarnik Effect
The Zeigarnik effect is a psychological term that describes how people tend to remember incomplete or interrupted tasks with greater detail and how incomplete actions create a form of tension that can only be relieved upon the task’s completion. Since the length of every TikTok videos is only 15 seconds users get the feeling that their video watching experience was not complete.
The Zeigarnik Effect encourages the user to keep watching to complete their experience in the app and remember each short video in greater detail. Users will also often repeat videos until they are fully able to comprehend what they just watched.
While The Zeigarnik Effect can have a positive influence by causing people to feel nervous due to their inability to finish a task and motivate them to complete it, it can also turn put people into a state of near-unlimited procrastination, encouraging people to sideline more important life tasks to keep watching videos on TikTok.
4. Craving for likes
Likes and engagement from other users on TikTok grant a sense of accomplishment to not only the receivers but also the givers. Getting likes from other users can increase a user’s satisfaction and bring about a sense of approval for their actions. The design of the like button on TikTok is right below the profile picture of the user, giving the users the illusion that they are directly rewarding the user for their content.
Hitting the like button also triggers a dancing heart animation on the screen which triggers a positive emotion for the givers and encourages them to like other user’s content and communicate with other users on the platform.
The adorable design of a dancing heart showing on the screen promotes the positive emotion to the like givers to be more willing to giving like giving a compliment and a way of communication to other people on this social platform.