Creators for Cash: How TikTok is Leading in Creator Incentives
THE RISE OF TIKTOK’S CREATOR FUND
TikTok is ahead of the game with 689 million monthly active users and more than $110 million in user spending. The refreshing platform employs an algorithm that rewards content above all and gives Gen Z a place to express themselves while enabling brands to inspire their audience in authentic ways. TikTok are focussing on cultivating trust and strong relationships with the creator community, which will ultimately determine the future of the platform. TikTok recognises the value of creators and is helping them ensure sustainable, long-term success as content creators by offering financial incentives.Unlike YouTube and previously Facebook, who paid a percentage of ad revenue to qualifying users, TikTok doesn’t split ad revenue with creators. Instead, it started a Creator Fund to pay users with at least 100k followers for their videos. In July 2020, TikTok announced a$200 million Creator Fundto help support creators in making TikTok a sustainable revenue stream. The Creator Fund was designed to build upon the existing monetary opportunities, including their $50 million Creative Learning Fund, Live Streams and Creator Marketplace. Following the incredible response and uptake, within a week TikTok announced that they expected the fund to increase to over $1 billion in the US over the next three years, and more than double that globally. From March 2021, TikTok announced that in order to be eligible to participate, creators would need to meet certain requirements and post original content in line with its Community Guidelines. Creators need to be over 18, have a minimum of 10k authentic followers and at least 100k organic video views within the last 30 days, to be eligible. Once creators meet the above requirements, they can apply via the creator tool on the app. Fund payments aren’t only calculated by views, but combine a number of factors, including views and engagement. TikTok Creator Fund earners have a dashboard with estimated funds and can withdraw these 30 days after the month ends. However, influencers who use TikTok’s recently launched Creator Fund have reportedthat TikTok pays only two to four cents per 1k views.
THE GO-TO STRATEGY
Platforms are in competition to attract creators and brands, and the competition is hotting up. More and more platforms are beginning to pay creators directly for their content, yet TikTok could be in the best position to outdo the others; it is fast becoming the industry leader in financial incentives. In a recent article, Jim Meadows, Chief Strategy Officer here at TAKUMI, stated that “although many creators engage in brand partnerships, many now see creating social media content as a full-time job and relying only on paid partnerships is not commercially viable anymore.” The app has the biggest audience for short-form video and an unrivalled ability to add innovative features to the app, therefore incentivising creators not to go elsewhere. Jim Meadows suggests that “social platforms that offer financial rewards are likely to attract the top creators over others that don’t”. Monetary rewards have become the go-to strategy for social platforms, in an effort to lure popular creators to their apps. As such, platforms such as YouTube and Facebook are recognising the threat that TikTok currently poses and are working to expand their creator monetization tools.
THE PLATFORM LANDSCAPE
There is a huge focus on short-form video content within the social platform sphere and the big players are finding new ways to enhance their appeal to creators. These incentives come in different sizes and formats but all have the same goal.Facebook announced their $1 billion payment program for creators, beginning summer 2021 in the US. Users will be paid for creating original video content on Facebook and Instagram. It will include bonus programs and seed funding that will reward eligible creators for hitting milestones when using Facebook’s creative and monetization tools. This investment is a further development in Facebook’s strategy to ensure the presence of creatives on their platforms. In May 2021, YouTube launched their $100 million Shorts Fund to be distributed over the course of 2021-2022. All users are eligible to participate by creating Shorts which are up to 60 second long, short-form videos. Pinterest introduced a $500,000 fund that is dedicated to elevating underrepresented creators by offering both creative strategy consulting and funding for content creation and ad credits. Snapchat has a short-form video service, Spotlight, which is their TikTok competitor. A $1 million daily pool is paid out to top-performing videos on Spotlight, in an aim to attract and retain users. Linktree, the market-leading linking platform and Square have set up The Passion Fund which is a $250k global grant program to support creators, activists and entrepreneurs in their bid to attract creators.
THE FUTURE FOR TIKTOK
TikTok cannot spend at the same rate as Facebook can, but the app is focussing on building a sustainable creator ecosystem that will provide comparative value for creators and maintain its growth. The bigger players have size on their side (for now) so TikTok needs to find ways to match up as other platforms also introduce creator funds. TikTok is constantly enhancing its eCommerce tools, facilitating more creator and brand partnerships, in an attempt to prevent creators from migrating to more profitable platforms, taking their audiences with them. TikTok is fulfilling the needs and wants of creators, with a creator-centric approach. It is a platform where creators can build up their following relatively quickly and feel supported by their industry leading creator fund. Brands continue to support the creator economy by seeing how productive these campaigns are in driving results and increasing brand awareness to a relevant buying audience. As social media platforms continue to grow, and TikTok continues to expand as a dominant platform, creators will need to continue to build strong, long-term relationships with creators.
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