New Study Reveals Majority of Adults on TikTok Don’t Share Videos

Adults on TikTok lean camera-shy, a new study from Pew Research Center suggests. From the TikTok research, the top 25% most active posters were responsible for 98% of all public videos. The study also found that age wasn’t necessarily a factor in assessing adults’ TikTok posting habits. Another finding showed that 85% of TikTok users say they find the content on their For You page to be at least somewhat interesting. This research arrives as a third of U.S. adults say that they use TikTok; among the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, that percentage jumps to 56%.

According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, adults on TikTok seem to be camera-shy. Out of 2,745 adult TikTok users surveyed, 48% admitted to never having posted a video. Additionally, many users have not even updated their bio.

Interestingly, this inclination towards lurking on social media rather than creating original content is not uncommon. In fact, the “1% rule” coined by early researchers of social media explains this phenomenon. The rule suggests that only 1% of people create online content, while 10% engage with it and the majority simply view it. Though this concept was proposed in 2006, when YouTube was only a year old and TikTok had not yet launched, it still holds true in today’s digital landscape. The majority of people prefer to browse rather than post, as evidenced by the number of friends who watch YouTube versus those who post videos.

The surprising degree to which this lurking behavior is present on TikTok is what stood out to the lead author of the study, Samuel Bestaver. In an interview with TechCrunch, Bestaver stated that “the level of non-posting on TikTok is really quite shocking” compared to other platforms. Another Pew study conducted in 2021 found that about half of U.S. adults on Twitter only posted five or fewer times a month. Yet, on TikTok, almost the same percentage of users never posted at all.

One possible reason for this lurker-friendly atmosphere on TikTok is the ease of participating. Typing out a thought or opinion on Twitter is arguably less intimidating than recording a video on TikTok. There is no need to worry about appearance or editing before posting a tweet. This is further supported by the research, which shows that the top 25% of active posters on TikTok are responsible for 98% of public videos. A similar study conducted on Twitter revealed a comparable statistic, with the top 25% of users producing 97% of all tweets.

Surprisingly, age does not seem to be a significant factor in determining TikTok posting habits among adults. While users between the ages of 18-34 are more likely to use the platform than those aged 35-49, the percentage of those who never post is about the same in both age groups. However, there is a slight difference in how these users engage with the content on the platform. 85% of TikTok users claim to find the content on their For You page at least somewhat interesting, but those who post on TikTok are more likely to consider their algorithmic feeds to be very interesting.

This research comes at a time when one-third of U.S. adults are utilizing TikTok, with that number nearly doubling among 18-34-year-olds. As the platform’s user base continues to grow, both TikTok and its content creators have a greater responsibility. Interestingly, more people are relying on TikTok as a source of news, especially as traditional news outlets continue to shrink. In the past three years, the percentage of U.S. adults who get their news from TikTok has increased fourfold, with 14% of adults now turning to the platform for their daily dose of news.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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