How TikTok should help Indian creators make money

Can TikTok focus on T2-T3 cities in India and help creators make money. I have shared two ways how it can do.

TikTok India Creators

Have you seen the video of India’s smoothest airwalker?

Meet the latest TikTok star Yuvraj Singh aka Baba Jackson who became an overnight success after his dance video went viral on social media. Yuvraj had his own struggle of not getting views but now he is on TV sets, getting the much-needed attention and dancing with the star cast of Street Dancer 3D.

On a weekend take a stroll on Church Street, Bengaluru. You will find the street jammed by teenagers. They are not hanging out but busy creating their next TikTok video or doing a photoshoot for Instagram. The scenes are the same in the back lanes of Connaught Place. A young man is saving a blind woman from a thief, with a Punjabi song as background score.

Browsing the wide variety of videos on TikTok, I can very well assume that the app has given a reason for people across the country and across societies to showcase their talent and dream of getting viral. It is no longer a lip-syncing video, the app is an amazing bundle of talent. For instance, check this amazing video that was created by UrSmartmaker, a popular creator along with Bollywood star Deepika Padukone.

@deepikapadukoneWait for it😉 ur_smartmaker

♬ original sound – deepikapadukone

These youngsters are hustling and TikTok is giving them an opportunity. But why TikTok? “It’s easier to get famous here; some people have become famous for no reason,” laughs Sohankar while speaking with LiveMint.

But where is the money for the creators?

Recently TC reported based on the data provided by Sensor Tower, 44% of TikTok’s total 1.65 billion downloads to date, or 738+ million installs, took place in 2019 alone.

TikTok was also the second-most downloaded (non-game) app worldwide across the Apple App Store and Google Play in 2019, according to Sensor Tower data.

TikTok’s downloads have been boosted by India where it accounted for 44% (323 million) of 2019’s total downloads. That’s a 27% increase from 2018. According to the App Annie State of Mobile 2020 report, Indians accounted for 48% of the 1,560 hours spent on TikTok by users outside China.

But when it comes to revenues, TikTok’s home country China is the biggest driver with iOS consumer spend of $122.9 million, or 69% of the total and more than triple what U.S. users spent in the app ($36 million). U.K. was the third-largest market driving revenues, with users spending $4.2 million in 2019.

TikTok definitely has to think hard when it comes to revenues but comparing with giants like Facebook and YouTube is unfair.

TikTok getting serious with revenues

TikTok is aware of the shortcomings and so the representatives of the company were in India having meetings with creators, agencies and brands. According to BrandEquity, the executives sought information on payment mechanisms for influencers here, and what brands need from the app and their concerns.

“TikTok is now trying to figure out how to make more money and also help influencers make more money … They are in the process of launching a lot of new features through which they want to help creators make more money so that they don’t feel like they are not getting their worth. If you are spending 10 hours a day creating content for the app, then you are not doing anything else, which means that you are not making money through any other means,” said a person in the know of the meetings.

From here on if TikTok wants its serious users sticking to the app and brands investing money then it will have to keep both these parties happy. TikTok started as a fun and dead easy app that allowed Indians to lip-sync on Bollywood tunes. The app which reached the heartland of India first has seen acceptance from the T2 and T3 places. One of the reasons why last year we witnessed TikTok focussing on the regional market with its #EduTok initiative. “The program is aimed at supporting first-time Internet users to gain knowledge by giving them access to high-quality educational content created by creators and organizations.”

ReadWhy is TikTok investing in #EduTok program in India

Now TikTok wants to get the attention of the metro cities that have been busy on Instagram. How do you do it? Knock on the doors of Bollywood.

TikTok and Bollywood

The film industry is dying to get the attention of the youth so that they can promote themselves and their upcoming movies. Almost every Bollywood celebrity is there on Facebook app suite and now it is getting on TikTok. The app’s growth has been one reason and the company has been working hard to get top celebrities on its platform. This not only opens up doors for a new set of users but also gets brands looking at the platform with seriousness.

@varundvnLoved dancing with this little one 😊 #muqabla #varundhawan #varunontiktok #streetdancer3♬ original sound – Varun Dhawan

Varun Dhawan right now is busy promoting his upcoming movie Street Dancer 3D and creating videos on TikTok along with influencers of the platform. The integration with the Bollywood movie Bala was really cool and recently Kajol has also joined the platform to promote Tanhaji. But will they keep creating videos for the app once their movie is released? I doubt.

Read: TikTok integration with Bala movie deserves attention

TikTok is not Instagram, here creativity gets you the views and attention. Like the actor, Riteish Deshmukh has been TikTok or even Shilpa Shetty. How do you keep Bollywood hooked to this platform? The answer is simple and a tough one. TikTok will have to keep its creators happy by allowing them to make money from the platform.

India has no dearth of talent but they will keep doing videos and pushing their talent when they see money or see more success like the dancer Yuvraj Singh is getting.

The majority of the big TikTok influencers are working with influencers agencies in the country. As a creator, you want to focus on your craft rather than scanning invoices or chasing clients. Sameeksha, a television celebrity who has 17.5 followers is a verified creator making an average of 150,000 rupees for a short video endorsement, says Manasi Ajwani, her manager at Qyuki Digital Media, an agency that manages 300 TikTok influencers in India. (The below screengrab is from her association with Lays, obviously the platform has to make these associations more transparent.)

@sameeksha_sudOMG, I cant believe my luck. Loved doing the #SmileDekeDekho hook step with Ranbir Kapoor! laysindiaofficial♬ Smile Deke Dekho – Lays

Subscription-based content

But not everyone is making hoards of money from brand associations, there are creative individual creators who are struggling. Besides, when you get into brand endorsements you are no more honest to your fans and brands want to control everything. We have seen the same on other platforms and brand safety is a big concern for brands in 2020.

Can TikTok come up with a solution where the average content creator can make money without getting involved with an influencer agency? Something that Substack is doing with the subscription model. Writers or bloggers write for their audience and have an option to make money from the readers.

Brand endorsements and sponsorships will only work for the A-lister content creators. What about the rest of the creators? They are your brand advocates who have made you popular.

Why has Facebook struggled in the video space and YouTube has been loved by creators? Facebook solved the reach problem but it has struggled in creating decent revenues for the creator. It is a greedy social network.

Collaboration with Influencer agencies for T2-T3

TikTok’s majority user base is from T2-T3 locations where you would hardly find a well-established influencer agency. So can TikTok be the role player and collaborate with such agencies to work with these local creators. Brands are all pepped up going regional and this could be a move that they would invest in. And gives the much-required money for the creators.

It can extend the EduTok program where it not only teaches users but also shows the users new ways to make money. This will help in the long run for creators and TikTok since it will keep the creators motivated to keep creating content. Otherwise, there will be another platform and the creators will jump on to it. Instagram is there but apps like Likee, Helo, Sharechat, and Firework are a growing threat.

Firework is already working on a subscription-based chat. “Firework makes money through ads and we also allow our creators to put a price to their time and create subscription-based chats for their fan base,” said Sunil Nair, Firework India CEO.

Everyone knows that this is the age of creators and everyone out there is looking for money from their content. There are too many options for a creator. TikTok can’t just play the Bollywood game. It already has a failed example of WeChat in India.