Older TikTok Influencers Defy Stereotypes on the App

The rise of the TikTok social media platform has been primarily associated with Generation Z, the newest generation to reach young adulthood. Some experts point to the democratic nature of the platform, while others argue that TikTok’s short video format is its recipe for success with the most internet-savvy generation of all time. Regardless of the precise reason, the logic persists that TikTok is a social media platform primarily meant for—and driven by—young consumers.

But a growing class of content creators on TikTok are challenging the idea that the platform is exclusively a place for Generation Z to craft fun and engaging videos. These older social media personalities occupy a unique place within the TikTok community. Their videos appeal to a wider audience of viewers than other videos, and many of these creators tap into the comedic appeal of bridging generational humor.

Will Serra is part of this evolving part of the TikTok marketplace. Serra’s rise to fame on the site has been relatively meteoric; his videos quickly went viral and expanded his following. In just a few months, Serra was able to amass a following of around 108,000 people. The target audience for his humorous videos varies; metrics show that his work resonates with the age group of 22-45.

Like many content creators in this category, Serra’s comedic style is a result of his unique background. After serving several years in the United States army, he spent seven years as a private defense contractor in Afghanistan. During this period, intelligence reasons demanded that he delete all social media. But according to Serra, this break from social media was a blessing—not a curse. He says that his genuine social interactions with people from cultures all over the world helped him to develop a unique sense of humor with jokes that land in a variety of settings.

And analytics for Serra’s interactions tell the same story. His content has gone viral in over ten countries outside of his home in the United States. The content has been particularly popular during the COVID-19 lockdown, which has led to an overall spike in global interest in TikTok as the world remains locked inside their homes.

For those uninitiated to the world of TikTok, the rise in popularity of accounts like Will Serra’s may not seem like a particularly important point. But within a community generally dominated by younger consumers, the world experience offered by content creators like Serra lends itself to a unique brand of cultured humor that continues to resonate with people all around the world.

Much of the future is uncertain for the TikTok platform. The company faces legal challenges from the Trump administration, and security concerns continue to be raised concerning the website’s tracking of user information. But during a time of global struggle, Serra maintains that comedy affords him the opportunity to brighten the days of people who might be going through a tough time. Serra says that his favorite part of making comedic videos is how many people tell him that he made them smile. 

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