- Social video app TikTok is streaming educational videos as the coronavirus pandemic drives a shift toward distance learning. The #LearnOnTikTok program follows the formation of its $50 million Creative Learning Fund that supports producers of instructional content and expands the reach of educators, Bryan Thoensen, head of content partnerships at TikTok U.S., announced in a blog post.
- TikTok is working with more than 800 educational institutions, publishers, public figures and professional experts to create instructional content for #LearnOnTikTok. Its Creative Learning Fund is part of a $250 million program to support the TikTok community during the pandemic.
- Aquarium of the Pacific, Headspace, It Gets Better, Women's Wear Daily (WWD), Self magazine and Upworthy are among the organizations that have created educational content for TikTok. Science educator Bill Nye, astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson, model Tyra Banks, TV host Lilly Singh and chef José Andrés are among the individuals who are streaming instructional videos on the app, per TikTok.
TikTok's support for educational programming is a positive gesture as people increase the time spent on social media during pandemic lockdowns that have led to the closure of many schools. The professionally produced videos are somewhat of a departure for TikTok, whose emphasis on entertaining user-generated videos with music soundtracks has made the app immensely popular among mobile consumers. Educational content may give TikTok's users another reason to check in with the app, giving mobile marketers more opportunities to reach audiences with ad inserts, branded posts, influencer videos and hashtag challenges.
#LearnOnTikTok videos cover a broad range of topics from a variety of organizations, experts and influencers. Among the featured content are meditation tips from wellness app Headspace and at-home yoga routines from positive storytelling site Upworthy. WWD offers a history of wedding dresses, while Self magazine has tips on how to sleep better. Aquarium of the Pacific created a video about endangered giant sea bass, while nonprofit It Gets Better has tips on how to be mindful of assumptions about gender identity, per TikTok.
TikTok's educational programming is another sign of how the pandemic has led social media companies to support communities, small businesses and people struggling through the health crisis. Facebook in the past couple of months started a program to help small businesses set up online storefronts for free, introduced features to help local businesses connect with customers and created a $100 million program that provides ad credits and cash grants to help companies cover wages and rent. Facebook-owned Instagram in March added a video chat service that let homebound users talk to each other while viewing photos in the app. In the same month, Pinterest created a "Today" tab as a hub for daily inspiration, along with information about preventing COVID-19.
TikTok's instructional videos come as the coronavirus pandemic drives a surge in downloads among people who have been stuck at home and have used their mobile devices for entertainment or to keep in touch with others. TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times, including a record 315 million downloads in Q1, a Sensor Tower study found. The app's U.S. user base jumped 56% to 28.8 million from October 2019 to March 2020, according to Comscore data cited by eMarketer. The researcher estimated that TikTok will reach 60.3 million U.S. consumers, or about 27% of social network users, by 2024.