spreadsheet programme, accountants have essential tools such as saws to carpenters, mom jeans, handwritten thank you notes, and the modern equivalent of Kravets: stuff about taking care of elderly people
So, how come the hashtag #excel has been viewed 3.4 billion times on a certain social media platform, and an Excel expert on that platform has 2.7 million followers and 9.7 million likes for his Excel tips?
The platform is TikTok, previously known as the short-form video-hosting service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, on which you can get an endless stream of short duration (15 seconds) videos ranging from pranks to styles, stunts, tricks, jokes, dance, and entertainment in what one might call “edutainment” (like advice on how to do stuff with Excel).
It has taken over the social media world in recent years, and all of the other major platforms – particularly Facebook – appear to be hyped by it, like rabbits from the headlights of an oncoming lorry.
Why is this the case? It’s partly due to demographics:
TikTok has 57 percent female users, 43 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24, and only 3.4 percent are over the age of 55. (and probably accidentally strayed into TikTok when looking for their real online home, which is now Facebook).
You can tell it hurts because Instagram (which is owned by Facebook/Meta) launched Reels in August 2020, an editing tool that allowed users to create 15-second video clips and set them to music. Gave. Really similar to TikTok, but much weaker.
The existential threat TikTok poses to the social media giant, however, isn’t demographic: it’s about attention.
As Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon pointed out decades ago, in a world where information (and entertainment) is abundant, critical scarce resources become the focus, and Facebook/Meta et al are now locked in a battle for them.
Because attention is a limited resource (there are only so many hours in a day), the competition for it has devolved into a zero-sum game. The more attention it receives, the less useful it is to others.
And TikTok appears to be the clear winner here. Its users currently spend an average of 52 minutes per day on it, and 90% of them use it more than once per day. According to Scott Galloway, a seasoned tech observer, the average session lasts 11 minutes, which is enough time to watch 26 videos of approximately 25 seconds each.
He provides an instructive example of what this can mean in practise.