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TikTok influence: The great reset

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  • The ban on this app has deprived its top 100 influencers of an estimated 100-120 crore in annual earnings. Their scramble for new platforms faces a problem of audience fragmentation. This turbulence could throw up new winners—which may not be a bad thing.

India’s ban on ByteDance’s video clip app, TikTok, has deprived quite a few Indians of their income. According to a report released on Thursday by the Indian Institute of Human Brands, the ban has cost our top 100 TikTok influencers an estimated 100-120 crore in lost annual income. The top 10 influencers were each raking in sums between 2 crore and 6 crore from TikTok, thanks to all the eyeballs their videos were attracting.

Reportedly, though, while many users tried to sideload the app from APKMirror even after the ban, they could not hope to recover the numbers they were piling up; some influencers had close to a million followers. Their option was to direct loyalists to other platforms. A quick switch to a TikTok clone—such as Sharechat’s Moj, Zee5’s HiPi and now Instagram Reels as well—could have done the trick, but there are so many clones that former TikTok users must inevitably have got fragmented across them all. This in itself threatens the ability of influencers to regain what they have lost.

Influencers face other challenges, too. For one thing, alternative platforms don’t all work quite the same way as TikTok. This would force influencers to rediscover how best to create content that plays to their strengths. For example, they may have to pick from a different list of audio-visual filters, often used to add special effects and enhance videos. In some sense, this could be seen as a market reset—a levelling of the field for everybody in the race for online influence. Like all shake-ups, we may see new players—those who adapt better, for example—scramble up the charts while laggards take time trying to learn new ropes. This may not be such a bad thing at all.

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