TikTok has been rolling out a number of new features reminiscent of Instagram lately — TikTok Stories, an updated look for Favorites, and now the Friends Tab. The changes seem to be part of a larger push from TikTok toward a more interpersonal social experience on the app.
Let's get into what the Friends Tab looks like, how it works, and what this change could mean for TikTok users and creators.
What does the new TikTok Friend's Tab look like?
If you're not one of the users that TikTok has rolled out this new feature to, you might be wondering what it looks like and how it works.
For users with access to it, the Friends Tab is located in the bottom menu next to the Home Tab. If you don't have the Friends Tab yet, you'll notice that this is where Discover is located on screen.
That's because for accounts with this new feature, the Friends Tab is replacing the Discover page.
Once you click into the Friends feed, it looks much the same to your Following feed or For You page. The only difference is that the videos you'll be served are from your friends' accounts. Functionally, it's similar to the Favorites feed that Instagram released earlier this year.
The TikTok algorithm will also show content from "suggested users" in this feed. Those suggested accounts all fall broadly into the friend category and can belong to:
- One of your phone contacts
- One of your Facebook friends
- One of your mutuals on TikTok
- One of your followers on TikTok
Users that have access to the Friends Tab will no longer have access to the Discover page. You'll still be able to access the Search page from the Home screen, but it has limited functionality compared to Discover.
TikTok has added a scrolling banner of trending sounds and hashtags to the bottom of Search for Friends Tab users to carry over some of the functionality of the Discover page, but it's still a very different experience.
What does the new Friends Tab mean for TikTok creators?
The big question surrounding the rollout of the Friends Tab is "How will this change the way creators and users interact on the app?"
It's still being tested, so we don't know too much about longterm plans for Friends apart from what TikTok has told us:
This "commitment to community" aspect further confirms that TikTok is looking to make the platform more of a space to interact with accounts that users know in real life. It's a move that feels targeted at acquiring users who prefer the more "traditional" social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Reactions to the rollout have been... mixed.
Some users and creators see this as a step in the right direction. It allows for users to discover new creators and brands on their For You page while still keeping up with friends and followers, who might not otherwise show up in their FYP, in the Friends Tab.
@ivanka.dekoning Tiktok update: Friends Tab to replace discovery tab #tiktokupdate2022 #tiktoknews2022 #friendstab #newtiktokfeature ♬ Jiggle Jiggle - Duke & Jones & Louis Theroux
This distinction will be even more important as TikTok rolls out the Pulse program and revamps how creators can monetize their TikTok content.
@wavewyld Reply to @amberrgrace16 this may not apply to all countries @wavewyld @wavewyld #fypupdate #tiktokalgorithmupdate #tiktokmarketingtip ♬ original sound - TikTok Tips
On the flip side, many users and creators feel that the Friends Tab doesn't work with how they use the app.
Common complaints revolve around the loss of the Discover page's search functionality and that their friends aren't very active when it comes to content creation.
For users who haven't allowed TikTok access to their phone's contacts or connected the app to their Facebook account, whether for privacy, security, or any other reason, there doesn't seem to be much added value in the Friends Tab.
Other creators are concerned with the lack of access to the Discover page, which is a great resource for keeping up with trends, finding new accounts to follow, and being discovered yourself as a creator.
@thatgirlagency Am I alone??? 👀 sry for the just got back from the gym chic, I just had some thoughts to share. Tell me why u think!! #socialmediaagency #socialmediamanagertip #socialmediamanagerlife #socialmediaupdates #tiktokupdates2022 ♬ original sound - Kelsey
While all of these concerns are valid, until we get more updates from TikTok about the Friends Tab, this is all speculation. Is the Friends Tab here to stay? Will we lose the Discover page forever? Does anyone actually use the Following page? Only time will tell.
Because this is a developing story, we'll update this post when TikTok makes a new announcement about the Friends Tab. Social media platforms are always evolving, so change is definitely coming, we just don't know what exactly it will look like yet.
In the meantime, check out our Resources Library for more creator news, tips, and tricks. You can also follow us over on TikTok, @Kapwing, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the latest updates.