Home >Companies >News >Influencers, brands in limbo over the sudden decision to ban TikTok

TikTok celebrity Ajay Barman, popular for his viral uploads on themes like communal harmony, is asking his 2 million plus followers to follow him on Instagram. Barman, who is a career social media influencer, remains hopeful of a future beyond TikTok, a Chinese app that has just been banned by India over security concerns.

“If I get good traction from YouTube, I will upload videos there too," Barman told Mint. He has tried other alternatives like domestic apps Chingaari and Mitron, but was unimpressed. He feels the so-called TikTok rivals will have to work hard on features to be able to replace the Chinese app.

India has over 120 million active TikTok users and an eclectic influencer community of Bollywood celebrities, reality stars and those who became overnight sensations thanks to their posts going viral, earning them anywhere between a few thousands rupees to more than 50 lakh per month, as per industry estimates.

Industry watchers say that with TikTok gone, most influencers will have to start their virtual lives from scratch.

“Influencers who have created networks across other social media platforms and have got content and audience spread out on all, will not be that severely impacted. Smaller influencers with 100,000-200,000 followers will be more impacted because they were only known on TikTok," said Pranav Nair, assistant vice-president, media, Monk Media Network.

Replacing TikTok won’t be easy, as brands are not going to invest in a new social media platform so soon.

Big influencers will wait and watch while being active on other platforms. Smaller influencers will have to rebuild their user base.

The government’s ban has also impacted brands hard. Pepsi, Puma, Clean and Clear, Flipkart and Myntra were running their campaigns on the app that saw a 50% growth in ad revenue in the past one year. Most TikTok ad deals were bundled, which include home screen ads, hashtag promotions and influencer outreach.

Being a new platform TikTok’s ad rates, ranging from 5 lakh to 50 lakh, were more economical than mature platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. It also offered high engagement through user-generated content and deep reach, especially in small towns and rural areas.

“It is a huge blow for small and boutique ad agencies, who have been getting campaign projects because of the meteoric rise of TikTok in India," said a senior executive of a social media agency, requesting anonymity.

abhijit.a@livemint.com

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