TikTok's popularity skyrocketed with the help of short, quirky dance and lip-syncing videos. Now the social media app is betting that live broadcasts and educational content will play a bigger part in its future.
Bryan Thoensen, who oversees content partnerships at TikTok, said that during the coronavirus pandemic TikTok is seeing people not only spending more time watching videos but also experimenting with the creation of different types of content, including in sports, gaming, cooking, fashion and beauty.
The company is also focusing more on live video, a feature that could make it feel like you're with people in real time even if you don't see them in person. TikTok users not only want something new and unique, they also want content that can bring them joy during quarantine, he said.
"It's not just music. It's, you know, all these different formats, from cooking to Q&A to...a little bit of a variety show," Thoensen said.
Thoensen spoke to Jim Louderback, general manager of VidCon, an online video tech conference, as part of CNET's Now What interview series. His remarks provide a glimpse into what the future could hold for the short-form video app.
Taking on tech companies such as Pinterest, Facebook-owned Instagram and Google-owned YouTube, TikTok could leverage more DIY project videos to get users to spend more time on the app and help the company rope in more ad dollars. Thoensen said he thinks educational content will be a much bigger part of the platform within the next 12 to 18 months.
The focus on more content variety could also help TikTok tap into revenue outside of advertising or spur the launch of new features. Thoensen talked about imagining a future in which a TikTok user who watches a video on scuba diving could find information about getting certified to be a scuba diver or research a trip to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
"A number of different things can sort of evolve from them just watching that content," he said. "We have a responsibility to ensure that the content is always king."
TikTok users are already doing more than just dancing and lip-syncing on the video app. Users have posted videos of themselves making a whipped ice coffee known as dalgona coffee. They're making Christmas ornaments, showcasing their woodworking skills or writing in calligraphy, Thoensen said. Doctors, including podiatrists, are sharing their medical knowledge during the coronavirus pandemic.
That doesn't mean that the dance and lip-syncing videos TikTok is known for will go away.
"It's adding more legs to the stool," Thoensen said.
TikTok, which is part of Chinese company ByteDance, said it surpassed more than 2 billion downloads in April.
See also: Byte vs. TikTok: Which video app will live up to Vine's legacy?
Now What is a video interview and panel series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers that covers trends impacting businesses and consumers amid the "new normal." There will always be change in our world, and we'll be here to discuss how to navigate it all.