Creative Expression or Viewer Preferences – Which is More Important?

TikTok is a place where people can unleash their creativity, giving voice to their unique talents for their adoring TikTok followers. This platform allows people to explore their sense of humor, show off technical skills, or develop their filming and editing capabilities. That being said, it’s also important to make content that people want to see. For example, someone whose special talent is spitting watermelon seeds may be proud of their skill, but their followers might not be interested. In this case, the creator may have to pivot their content strategy to include videos that keep their followers watching.


This brings up the question: should creators focus on the type of content that they want to make, or should they tailor each video for their followers’ preferences? There are pros and cons to each approach; ideally, creators will find a way to combine both strategies. This lets them feel creatively fulfilled, while also continuing to grow a robust TikTok following.


Focusing on creatively fulfilling content: pros and cons

Some creators on TikTok were inspired to start because they had all kinds of great ideas for videos. The idea was that they’d start a TikTok page with their painstakingly made videos, and grow a following based on the quality of their content. In some cases, this is exactly what happens. There are plenty of users on TikTok who appreciate well-made content, and this works out well for creators who put a lot of work into their videos. Here are the pros of focusing on creatively fulfilling content as a creator:


  • They have something to be proud of

A lot of TikTok creators wouldn’t be interested in making videos if they had to pander to viewer preferences. Instead, they get to feed their creativity, develop their skills, and be proud of each video they upload. 


  • Their page has a better chance of long-term success

When a TikTok creator is just in it for the numbers, that can be a powerful motivation – unless the likes, views, or followers fail to show up. When a TikToker is following their passion, this can be enough for them to keep going even if their following isn’t growing as fast as they’d like.


  • Their passion is reflected in their content quality

In many cases, it’s easy to tell the difference between TikTok videos that were made with love and care, and videos that were made just to have something to upload. This affects the quality of the videos, and viewers generally notice this. When a creator clearly spends time and effort on their videos, their followers take this as a sign that they’re valued and appreciated.

What about the cons of focusing on creative content? There’s really only one: losing touch with your audience because what you want isn’t the same as what they want. This usually happens to extremely niche creators, mostly because there simply isn’t much of an audience for their videos. 


Focusing on what viewers want: pros and cons

You’ve probably seen this type of content before, since it’s all over TikTok. Plenty of creators don’t have much of a creative vision to start with, but they do have a million trends to follow, which can get them more fans every week. These types of videos aren’t usually that original, but they’re definitely entertaining – colorful, fast-paced, and maybe even a little chaotic. Just like videos that are made for creativity’s sake, these types of videos come with both pros and cons. These are the main benefits.


  • They’re popular

Succeeding on TikTok is all about popularity, and when a creator dedicates their page to making popular types of videos, they’re on the right path. This is the type of video that’s more likely to get watched by random users who see the thumbnail on their For You page, thanks to its universal appeal.


  • They’re more likely to go viral

Going viral on TikTok is like winning the lottery for some creators, which is often why many of them choose to focus on giving viewers what they want. From dance videos to trending challenges, viral videos have inspired countless imitators who want to ride the wave of success. And guess what? Sometimes it even pays off.


  • They’re easier to make

Treating each video like a passion project can be fulfilling, but it can also be exhausting. TikTok’s algorithm likes to see multiple uploads per week, or even per day, and that’s a lot more feasible when the videos are fairly low-effort. When the creator doesn’t have to carefully develop each concept, filming setup, etc., this enables them to put out a much higher volume of content without burning themselves out.


These are some pretty great advantages, but what about the disadvantages?


  • The videos may not help develop any skills

Crowd-pleasing videos can be compared to fast food. It’s great that everyone loves them, but the person making them hasn’t really exercised any valuable skills. If a creator wants to develop skills like filming, editing, and so on, this type of content won’t necessarily help them reach those goals.


  • The account may not last long if the following doesn’t increase

As mentioned briefly above, the main motivation for this type of content tends to be growing a following on TikTok. So what happens if the followers don’t appear? If the creator gets easily discouraged, they may not have any other reason to keep going. This could mean the end of their attempted career on TikTok, which is always a sad thing to see.


In summary

If you’re a TikTok creator, you may have already found a balance between these two approaches. The most important thing is to do whatever you’re most comfortable with. If you have a definite creative vision for your videos, then go for it. If you’re just playing the game to win the prize, on the other hand, then keep doing what works best for you. The best approach is the one you’ll be able to stick with long-term, so make sure you focus on what you want first and foremost!