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Six months after ban, Indian TikTok stars are dejected and down but not out

TikTok had emerged as a major source of income for several content creator. As expected, they didn't even know how to react to the ban.

twitter-logoManas Tiwari | December 24, 2020 | Updated 18:00 IST
TikTok Ban
The Bytedance-owned app had emerged as a major source of income for several content creators.

Highlights

  • TikTok was banned in India on June 29, 2020.
  • It was the primary source of income for several creators.
  • Several apps have tried to occupy that space since then.

Ab tumhara kya hoga....is what some friends asked Manpreet Manni, a Delhi based content creator who had over a million followers on short-video sharing platform TikTok, at the time it got banned in June this year. Indeed, it was a difficult question for Manpreet, who had quit her teaching job to take up TikTok full-time. Her content was focused on skincare and haircare remedies. The success wasn't immediate. It took around 150 to 200 videos for Manpreet to go 'viral'.

The Bytedance-owned app had emerged as a major source of income for several content creators, including Manpreet, none of whom had any idea about its sudden end. As expected, they didn't even know how to react.

"We had a decent income source and fan base on TikTok. So, the first few days were very unusual. In fact, we thought it's going to come back soon. Whenever we used to talk to each other (content creators), we were likehaan abhi a jaega, abhi a jaega. We always thought that this is a big app and can't just shut down suddenly," she tells India Today Tech.

Yamuna Nagar-based Abheshek Garg who had a TikTok profile by the name of 'Dapperly Tammed' and posted content around social issues, was going through similar emotions. He was hopeful that the platform might come back in a week or two. Six months later, he is still hoping.

"As everyone else, I also thought that the app will return in a week or two. When it didn't happen for few days, we slowly realised that it is not coming back. So, I started uploading content on other platforms. There was a flurry of new apps which led to confusion as well. Eventually, things settled," he says.

When everyone wanted to be TikTok

Soon after the TikTok ban, there were number of other apps that grabbed the limelight. Some of these were homegrown, others were launched by big tech giants. Both the creators tell us that neither came close to TikTok in terms of user experience and reach.

"TikTok was growing exponentially and it was emerging as a major source of income. The number of active users were also lot more than any other app. As the ban was imposed, there was also a decline in our brand value. The platforms diversified, so did the audience," Garg explains, while adding that he didn't even know how to inform his followers that he is now active on other apps.

Expectedly, these apps used their own ways to lure content creators. Some promised hefty monetary benefits, others were even willing to sign exclusive content contracts.

"I tried several other short app platforms Roposo, Gaana hotshots but eventually Instagram Reels took over. All these apps were paying us money to create exclusive content for them," Garg adds.

The decision was a tough one to make. Manpreet reveals that the amount offered by some of the newer apps for a month was less than what these creators were making with one video on TikTok.

"I continued creating content because it didn't want to put a gap in my creativity. We were reached by several others apps who offered money on per month basis. But, we were making that amount with one video on TikTok. That was the go-to platform for top brands. It was on the rise," she says.

Some Struggled, Others Survived

While those who left their jobs and were entirely dependent on TikTok for income struggled immediately after the ban, others who took it up as a hobby didn't feel the heat. Micky Makeover, a Delhi based stylist who had over 1.5 million TikTok followers, believes his day job saved the day.

"I am also a make-up artist. I wasn't dependent on TikTok for money. Still, I had put in effort, had over 1.5 million followers on the platform. So, I was shocked. Then, I started putting content on YouTube and got 400,000 followers in four months. Things became normal after that. Of course, it feels bad that TikTok has been banned but success on other platforms makes things easier," Micky tells India Today Tech.

Not everyone was as lucky as Micky. He recalls how several of his friends had given up their jobs for social media apps and struggled during the phase.

"TikTok was never the source of income for me. This is why I didn't have as bad an experience as others. I have a salon and most of my videos were shot inside that. I was still running that business but lot of other creators struggled. I know a lot of people who left their jobs and were only dependent on social media apps. It is an eye opener for them," he says.

What's Micky's advice for beginners? Never look at these apps as the primary source of income.

Even Manpreet is planning to start her business, though she never plans to stop creating content.

"Now I know that these apps are not permanent so planning to start my own business. Yes, I will keep creating content. This is something I will never stop," she says.

Disappointed but Hopeful

All these content creators are still hopeful that TikTok will make a comeback. Miracle or not, they hope of getting up to that news someday. Some of them have not even signed up for other apps and are willing to wait further. However, the way the short-video sharing handled the ban, is what disappoints them.

They never received an official word from TikTok or any clarity around the ban.

"TikTok had official groups. If you were part of that, the TikTok team would support you and pass on the information. I wasn't. So, I was anyway not getting money directly from TikTok. Since the ban, they haven't given us any clarity either," says Micky.

The ban led to several new challenges identifying the right alternate, creating the fanbase from zero and reaching the same heights as you were before. None of this is easy. As Manpreet says, "If you have talent, you will be successful on other apps as well."

This is what the fight is about to create and survive. And, there are several options for those who want to.

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