Unfiltered and Unscripted: Why “Man on the Street” Videos Thrive on TikTok

Unfiltered and Unscripted: Why “Man on the Street” Videos Thrive on TikTok

Engage audiences with authentic 'man on the street' interviews. Learn how this tactic can boost your content's appeal.

In recent years, TikTok has emerged as a powerhouse social media platform that has captivated millions of users worldwide with its short-form videos. Among the plethora of content formats on the platform, one format, in particular, has gained immense popularity on TikTok. “Man on the Street” interviews have risen to the forefront as one of the staples of the TikTok era.

These spontaneous and (mostly) unscripted interactions with ordinary people have become a fascinating trend that provides valuable insights into the thoughts, opinions, and experiences of individuals from diverse backgrounds. Many creators like What’s Poppin? With Davis! & Hannah Berner and brands like Tinder have made this their bread and butter — and the results have been fascinating.

Before we explore this phenomenon, let’s look at the history of the Man on the Street format.

History of Man on the Street

Man-on-the-street interviews started as early as microphones and cameras could be taken outside on the streets. They were a format that was originally heavily used by cable and network news stations in the form of field reporters. These news reporters would be sent out to cover breaking news, weather reports, or even entire remote segments. Reporters would interview experts in the field, as well as the common folk to get their take on an event or story. 

Highlighting the everyday person started to really resonate with audiences as it both allowed the average citizens to voice their perspective on things and made the viewer feel like they were getting a real gauge for how other people in their community felt. It added much-needed authenticity to the media. As more and more news networks started doing field reporting, it soon became a staple for reporters to stop strangers on the street to get their take on breaking news stories. Thousands of these types of interviews are done every week by news networks and many can be insightful, interesting, and even funny. 

These interviews can be quite hilarious, especially when they go wrong on live TV. Failed street interviews were some of the most popular first viral videos on a little website called YouTube back in the day. I think we all remember the “I like turtles” kid or the “Surfer Dude” interview. Late night TV shows like David Letterman would go out and film hilarious segments around the country interviewing people of all backgrounds. Many other comedians and comedy shows followed suit, like Jay Leno’s famous “JayWalking” and Conan O’Brien as well. 

Most man-on-the-street content you see on TikTok can be directly traced back to its use through media over the last 60 years. It makes sense that the format became so popular on TikTok as the platform has come to replace a lot of traditional media for Millenials and Gen Z.

The appeal of man-on-the-street

So why is it that these videos appeal to people so much? When you think about it, it’s just an interview happening outside. At first glance, there is nothing particularly exciting about the format. The rise of man-on-the-street content on TikTok can be attributed to several factors. 

First off, it offers a voyeuristic glimpse into the lives and perspectives of people from different walks of life. The unscripted nature of these interviews creates an atmosphere of authenticity, making viewers feel like they are part of the conversation. TikTok’s algorithm ensures that these videos reach a wide range of users, increasing the chances of encountering unique perspectives and diverse viewpoints. Drawing in thousands of comments from people who feel invited to give their opinion on the questions asked.

Secondly, man-on-the-street interviews tap into the innate human curiosity about others. The random encounters, unexpected responses, and candid moments make these videos inherently entertaining and relatable. People enjoy watching these interactions as they provide a window into the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of fellow human beings, fostering a sense of empathy and connection.

The interactive nature of TikTok allows users to engage with man-on-the-street content actively. Viewers can leave comments, participate in polls, or even create their own response videos, adding to the overall community experience. This level of engagement enables people to join the conversation, voice their opinions, and contribute to the ongoing dialogue.

Creators and brands that have used man-on-the-street

There are many accounts on TikTok that are fully built around recording man-on-the-street interactions — but few are as big or well-known as What’s Poppin? With Davis?

Creators like Davis have contributed significantly to the appeal of man-on-the-street content. Davis brings a unique perspective and a talent for engaging with strangers, making them feel comfortable, and drawing out interesting insights and stories. Similar to shows like “Billy on the Street” and platforms like “Humans of New York,” Davis creates an unpredictable and heartwarming atmosphere in his videos.

Davis’s success can be attributed to his ability to create a genuine and unscripted experience. Rather than relying on pre-planned questions, he trusts his instincts and allows the conversation to flow naturally. His unique interviewing style, combined with a little editing magic, results in videos that capture the essence of each person he speaks with.

The success of Davis’s show  “What’s Poppin?” highlights the demand for authentic and relatable content on TikTok. It resonates with the Gen Z audience, who values genuine interactions and meaningful conversations. Davis, who works with Fallen Media, has managed to create a show that captures the curiosity of Gen Z and addresses topics that truly matter to them.

A brand that has taken the man-on-the-street format and has perfectly integrated it into their content mix is Tinder. If you look at their TikTok page, you will see that a good percentage of their content involves asking strangers anything from dating advice, relationship tips, dating preferences, and even about “Red Flags.” For Tinder, this type of content makes sense because there is a lot of discourse about dating, and people have experiences that they want to share! Tinder is a popular dating app that’s willing to facilitate the discourse, makes the use of the format all that better!

Benefits of man-on-the-street content 

If wondering if you should start incorporating man-on-the-street into your content, let’s look at some of the reasons why you would

Ease & Affordability

First off, it’s incredibly affordable to produce. Unlike highly produced advertisements or elaborate campaigns, this format requires minimal resources and equipment. Brands can capture compelling content using just a smartphone and a microphone. The spontaneous nature of these interviews eliminates the need for elaborate scripts and extensive post-production editing. As a result, brands and creators can produce a high volume of content quickly and cost-effectively. This allows for consistent engagement with the audience and maximizes the return on investment.


Secondly, this type of content can increase engagement and conversation around your brand.

Man-on-the-street content has a unique ability to capture and sustain viewer attention. By presenting real people sharing their experiences, thoughts, and opinions, brands can create a sense of relatability and emotional connection. This connection leads to increased engagement, as viewers actively participate in conversations, leave comments, and share the content with their own networks. This heightened engagement can drive conversions by increasing brand visibility and maybe even attracting new customers to the brand.


Thirdly, Man-on-the-street content allows brands to humanize their image and present a more approachable and relatable persona. By showcasing real people interacting with the brand through different topics of discourse, viewers can see firsthand how the brand positively impacts lives and communities. This human element instills trust and authenticity, breaking down barriers between the brand and its audience. 

Man-on-the-street content on TikTok has taken the digital world by storm. It captivates audiences with its authentic, unfiltered, and relatable interviews. Brands and creators have the ability to harness the power of man-the-street interviews to create more genuine content that resonates with users. The appeal of man-on the-street content lies in its ability to satisfy our curiosity about others, create a sense of empathy and connection, and foster a vibrant community of engaged viewers. As this trend continues to evolve, it is likely to remain a captivating and integral part of media and the human experience for years to come.


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