TikTok success: Value longevity over the momentary peak
Listen to this article:
Last week I came across a podcast that Cole Bennett, generational music video director and founder of Lyrical Lemonade, was on. What he said caught my attention. “... maybe, success came at the wrong point in their life, or they’re not mentally grounded enough to handle that moment.”
It made me think about TikTok and how it may be negatively impacting the longevity of a creator’s career. Someone new blows up on TikTok every day. We celebrate how quickly you can find success. It sounds nice, but what are the long-term effects?
One that I’m worried about is experiencing success at the wrong time.
As humans, we all need time to develop. We need time to experience new things, make mistakes, and build our own perspectives. Going through this development period helps us make more informed decisions that align better with our skillset.
TikTok doesn’t give us time to develop.
Post a video today and in 24 hours you can be ‘famous.’ You then go fight a mental battle: Should I keep doing this because of the fame or should I keep doing this because it is fulfilling?
Think about it like this: You’re in ninth-grade math class and acing every test. One day your teacher announces over the intercom, “congrats Danny Desatnik, we see so much potential in you that we’ve enrolled you in a graduate math degree at an amazing university.”
Your friends are blown away, and everyone at school is talking about you. How can you say no to such an amazing opportunity? You start the degree and are immediately overwhelmed. How do you keep up with this expectation while giving yourself the space to explore? You do everything you can to take advantage of the momentum but eventually, you crash.
As a society, TikTok’s leading us to value the peak of success over longevity. A video that flops is considered a failure. Why don’t we see it as another chance to develop our craft? Jon Bellion says it best: “Was never focused on gettin' bigger, just gettin' better. That's why I keep gettin' bigger after every record”
When Michael Jordan missed a free throw that was part of the process. It was after thousands of repetitions that he became the greatest. There’s a difference between experiencing success and feeling prepared for success.
I worry that TikTok has conditioned us to expect success without any friction.
What if TikTok only started showing your videos on the for you page after you posted 100 videos?
Once you post video 101, TikTok unlocks all of your videos, and they become eligible for the algorithm to pick up. Your hard work wouldn’t go to waste, but you could focus on getting better at your craft and building your foundation before experiencing success.
After talking with some creators last week, they told me that each month they ask themselves three questions:
- Why am I doing this?
- What do I want to be known for long-term?
- Do my actions today help me on my journey to achieve what I want long term?
These are great questions to ask yourself as you strive for success but also set priorities, including the protection of your mental health.
Danny Desatnik is creator initiatives manager at #paid. He hosts the Creator Culture podcast.