With Twitter busy rebranding itself as the letter X, TikTok announced that it’s “thrilled” this morning to get to reveal a new feature that “broadens options for creators to share their ideas.” Called a text post, the new format on the app is capable of “expanding the boundaries of content creation,” the company writes, by “giving the written creativity we’ve seen in comments, captions, and videos a dedicated space to shine.”
TikTok, the world’s most-used social platform, began as an app that hosted extremely short videos, but more recently it’s toyed with a photo mode as part of an attempt to siphon away Instagram users. The newfangled text posts will presumably give TikTok a foot in the space occupied by Twitter/X, as well as Meta’s own Twitter-killer text app, the “less toxic” Threads.
When TikTok users open their Camera page, they will notice a third, brand-new option: “Text.” Selecting that will load a blank text field and keyboard. Users shouldn’t expect a format entirely akin to tweeting—Twitter Blue (X Blue?) subscribers have a 4,000-character limit available to them, while an informal test by Fast Company suggests TikTok text posts are capped at 1,000 characters. The new feature may not have been intended for blogging, anyway; TikTok encourages everyone to think of it as a space for “poems” and “lyrics” more than novella-length political diatribes.
TikTok also gives users several ways to “add some pizazz” to their text. These include changing the post’s background color, pasting in stickers, tagging a geolocation, incorporating sounds (which TikTok envisions as “tunes that readers can groove to as they peruse your writing”), or even making the post into a Duet, TikTok’s split-screen format that allows two posts to appear side-by-side.
Purists may recall their annoyance last year when TikTok pivoted to supporting images. Yet motionless pics now routinely appear in posts by top creators. Text posts expand the app’s reach through a fairly intuitive way to introduce words onto a platform not originally built for that.
Calling it a well-timed grab for disaffected bird-app users, though, likely underestimates TikTok’s aim. Meta’s Threads racked up 100 million users in mere days after its launch this month, but has since started to look like a bit of a misfire, with user engagement reportedly plummeting 70%. TikTok is not positioning these text posts as any sort of stand-alone app, and it’s worth noting that the feature is, in fact, very Instagram Stories-esque. Perhaps the playbook is to ambush Meta while its attention is diverted?