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TikTok is known for short videos but other types are going viral too


TikTok is probably best known for short videos of people dancing, but a different type of TikTok post is going viral, too.


REESATEESA: I'm going to tell the story of how I met, dated, married and divorced a real pathological liar.

MARTÍNEZ: The TikTok series Who TF Did I Marry portrays a marriage to a man with secrets in more than 50 parts, each about 10 minutes long. Millions tuned in, and TikTok seems to be encouraging the longer format. So is TikTok the new TV? We called up Niklas Myhr. He's known as the social media professor at Chapman University in Southern California.

So these 10-minute-long videos, what are they competing with?

NIKLAS MYHR: I think it is an alternative to podcasts, for example. That clearly has taken off, but it's a little bit more burdensome for somebody to open up a separate app and find the right podcast, the right episode, to listen to something engaging when they are just going on with their lives.

MARTÍNEZ: Are we really, professor, at a point where it is actually burdensome to move your finger an inch to get to another app (laughter) to watch something else?

MYHR: Well, you may remember that some people used to drive across town to get a $5 discount on a pair of shoes. Today, an internet user finds it burdensome to scroll down on Google beyond the sponsored results on their phone. So it is - I don't think it's a question of laziness, necessarily. People want content consumption experiences that are frictionless.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, I guess, yeah, whatever it takes to make it easier on the consumer. Now, the story that's going viral is by someone, a TikTokker named ReesaTeesa. And that story that she tells is incredibly personal. Why do you think we gravitate toward these stories and the way they're presented, the way they're made?

MYHR: In her particular case, she is a true example of somebody that is authentically sharing something. Like, Hollywood calls - based on a true story has always been captivating for a moviegoer, but this is 100% real. You can feel that this is not just based on, this is her story to tell. She's also very different in terms of the format. Not only is she using the 10-minute video format, which is high for TikTok standards, she publishes a full 50 of them for seven-plus hours combined, and that is just standing out. So sometimes being different is what it takes to capture people's imagination.

MARTÍNEZ: See, ReesaTeesa's story, professor, is something that I could completely envision on Lifetime or Oxygen or maybe, like, "Dateline," that kind of thing. And that's a show that has production. There's recreations, there's narrators. That's the kind of stuff that I want, so I want some kind of polish and sheen to what I'm consuming. So why do you think people watch these videos clearly made by non-professionals that maybe aren't tightly edited or produced?

MYHR: It goes back to authenticity. In a time where the producers are doing almost two professional productions, where you have influencers that look almost unrealistic. But now it is, I can show up as I am. One student pointed out it's like you're talking to a friend about to go out for the night, and it's feeling like you're getting access to her, like, behind the scenes. And that behind-the-scenes content is very relatable. Sometimes it's more interesting than the shiny story with full production value.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Niklas Myhr, a marketing professor at Chapman University. Professor, thanks.

MYHR: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.


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