TikTok created a new set of content creators in India who, in 15 seconds, entertained viewers, and became stars, aka influencers, in their own rights. Now, with the ban on the Chinese app, what happens to them? TikTok had 200 million users in India.
“I worked very hard to get 40,000 followers. TikTok was the most trending platform on social media and most campaigns I was getting were for TikTok," said Barkha Vyas, who was creating content around make-up, looks, grooming and more.
Vyas and others will now have to search for alternative platforms. Even if they find a few, they will see a significant drop in revenue.
Ashutosh Harbola, CEO and Co-founder, Buzzoka, an influencer marketing platform, said that due to the Coronavirus-led lockdown, influencers were charging less as brands were shying away from advertising.
“For example, if a top influencer on Tiktok earned Rs 5 lakh from a video, he/she will now get a lakh for content on Instagram. Price drop will be mostly due to decrease in engagement. Engagement is likely to come down by 90 percent on other platforms,” he said.
Ankit Agarwal, Founder, Do Your Thng, said that on the creator side, the impact will be more substantial.
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“TikTok gave voice to hundreds of creators generating vernacular content. While most creators are savvy enough to diversify to other platforms, a few stand to lose out,” he said.
Rahul Khanna, Founder, BARCODE Entertainment, an influencer marketing agency, lists a few options. “Short-form video apps like Mitron, Snapchat and vernacular social media apps like Sharechat can emerge as the new platforms,” he said.
Harbola gave Faisu’s example, a famous TikToker who was banned on the platform recently.
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"Faisu had a strong following on Instagram as well and even during his lows, he was getting brand endorsements on Instagram. For content creators who diversified to other platforms, the impact will be less," he said.
Content creator Namrata said: “I have been creating content on a lot of platforms – mainly Instagram and Helo app. Now, I would prefer Instagram and YouTube.”
Despite diversification, engagement will be affected on other platforms as building a large follower base doesn’t happen overnight. Influencers have spent at least a year or two to build a community for the content they created on TikTok.
What about brands and influencer marketing?
“Right now, for marketers, TikTok was the space to target Gen Z as 41 percent users fell in this age bracket (18-22). I feel it is one reason why brand custodians placed it on the top three platforms for influencer marketing. On top of it, the app has a higher engagement rate and an average time spent per day than Instagram,” said Agarwal.
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Amit Mondal, Founder, Pulpkey, an influencer marketing company, pointed out that TikTok was a great platform to target Tier-I and Tier-III cities. “There are massive audiences from those cities which brands couldn’t get access to easily earlier. That’s something significant TikTok has done,” he said.
This is why Harbola said that brands like P&G, Coke, HUL and Pepsi will be hurt the most as they had started using TikTok to foray into Tier-II and -III markets.
Khanna also gave a few recent examples of brand engagement on TikTok.
“Recently, we saw two of the most iconic brands, Nivea and Dettol, hop on to the Chinese train of mobile apps like TikTok and conduct #SharetheCare, #HandswashChallenge. These campaigns had more than 9 billion views.”
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With TikTok’s emergence, a shift was happening. Brands gradually started moving out of mega-influencers in YouTube, Instagram and Facebook to micro- influencers on TikTok.
However, Harbola pointed out that while TikTok offered a wider user base, they still did not spend big on the platform. TikTok was only 10-15 percent of a brand’s overall spend, he said.
Yet, Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and CoFounder, TheSmallBigIdea, thinks that it would be difficult to find an immediate replacement.
It is consumer’s loss
Harbola says that out of all the players, the bigger loss is that of the consumers.
“I was talking to my carpenter the other day and I asked him what he watched to keep himself entertained. Guess what he said? TikTok. Hence, the biggest effect of the TikTok ban will be on content consumption, especially for viewers in Tier- II and Tier-III markets.”
But there are many replacements for TikTok, especially made-in-India platforms like Roposo, Bolo Indya etc.
But people in smaller markets will find it cumbersome to make new accounts, follow new influencers and understand new platforms, he said. In smaller markets, the name TikTok worked well, he said.
On TikTok’s ban, Sunil Nair, Firework India CEO, said: “For any platform that wants to enter India and operate, it is important to understand the sensitivities towards our culture and the importance of taking responsibilities for the actions of its users. Content apps need to build a safer environment for creators, users and advertisers.”