NEW DELHI : With over 200 million users in India, ByteDance-owned short video app TikTok is trying to change the perception of it being an “entertainment-only" platform. Sachin Sharma, director of sales and partnerships at TikTok India said learning has emerged as a big theme on the app which has motivated them to launch EduTok Program which aims to democratize learning online. “In May, we had half a million content posts around education, motivation and life tips. We have streamlined it so that it is easier for creators to create positive content and users to discover it. It’s been six months and we have received 48 billion views from 10 million (educational) video posts and shared 1.8 billion times on the app itself," said Sharma on the sidelines of the launch of EduTok in New Delhi last week. He also spoke about key emerging categories on TikTok, advertising opportunities for brands and its commitment to tackle negative content. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What prompted the launch of EduTok?

We want to change the wider perception of TikTok being an entertainment-only app. Unapologetically, I would say entertainment still remains a powerful theme for us, but 60% of the content on our platform is coming from different themes/genres. Education is one of the biggest one and we have divided this theme into EduTok LifeTips, EduTok Technology and Edutok Motivation, which have become independent self-sustainable themes. We have many young users coming from diverse backgrounds, ethnicity and language skills and we see a huge need for them to consume education-related content.

What kind of content is working well on the app?

Apart from education, some of the categories which are coming up in a big way include technology, sports, travel and food. The platform is also being used for social change. We have done campaigns such as #Yourlifematters in partnership with Suicide Prevention India Foundation to bust the myth around mental health, while with Fortis we did #Unmuteyourself.

What are the key factors which are driving TikTok’s growth in India?

TikTok is an extremely simple and frictionless app. Despite varied ethnicity or language skills, users can still create high-quality content here. One doesn’t need access to studios or voice recording equipments to create content; everything in the app is in-built and comes along with tools such as filters and backgrounds. The platform uses high-intelligence technology to provide users a feed that always help them discover something new and localized content. The third biggest thing is that TikTok has removed the entry-level barriers to content creation. Three simple clicks can help users create powerful content on the app and share it with the global audience.

Another big reason for its popularity is that there is a segment of user base which is not comfortable with text on social media platforms and hence find video as a much easier form of expression.

Is TikTok actively scanning the content on the platform?

I would say this is a shared responsibility so users have to be aware and empowered enough to create the right kind of content. A lot of our initiatives are around user awareness and education. We had done a “Wait a sec to reflect" campaign which urged users to think before posting content on internet.

We don’t allow content which falls into categories such as hate speech, nudity and pornography. Apart from technology intervention, we have a content moderation team which has been on-boarded on basis of their appreciation of cultural and local context and nuances. About 25% of our workforce is dedicated to content moderation. Users can flag content on an account, a post (user or brand) or even a comment and we will review it. We have taken down six million video posts so far.


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