TikTok and its challenges in Indian Market

Love it, hate it, can’t ignore it: TikTok India’s ‘reputation’ battle

It was late in the evening when a top-rated TV star rang up.

Star:“Hi, could you please not mention me as a TikTok star or influencer in the articles. Just avoid TikTok please”

Reporter:”So, you going off TikTok?”

Star:“No, no. It’s a fun platform and we make some good money. These days, you know all the ban thing, just don’t mention na…please (sic)”

Interesting, indeed. The world of TikTok, the famous or rather infamous app, is a quagmire. “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” Yes, TikTok is immensely addictive and entertaining to the core. It’s funny, crazy and has music playing, what else do you want.

One minute you are Shah Rukh Khan, the very next you are Joker (there is a famous Joker impersonator on the app, by the way).

TikTok is the buzzing word in digital India. With millions of downloads, its distribution pipe is choc-a-bloc with gazillions of content pieces.

Every other day you wake up to #bantiktok and similar trends on Twitter, leaving you wondering and hapless about people’s priorities during Covid 19 times.

Or maybe, during the lockdown, TikToking is the best way to kill time.

So what is the entire hullabaloo about TikTok? Let’s figure.

To begin with, the app, compared to the other ones, is more appealing and engaging. It’s Bollywood on your phone. It’s a trip to mayanagri. When an average Indian’s confidence or opportunity to stardom or greatness is almost low to none, when you have to walk back home during a pandemic, when life is all about survival and responsibilities, TikTok is your tool of escapism, it’s your sojourn to the realm of fantasy, where you live the life of a star.

You sing, you dance, you become Amitabh Bachchan, and people might love, hate, or troll you, yet, you get the much needed importance, which millions crave for.

TikTok lends something to nothing, its entertaining format and ability to ignite your desire to be famous within the privacy of your four walls, has brought in admirers in hordes, like moths to flames.

A Mumbai boy to a Bihar girl, everyone can earn followers and likes (oh, the ego boosters), and become a ‘star’.

What an incredible idea!!!

However, there is a problem. Going mass means you are Maruti of India, not Mercedes.

TikTok has managed to achieve which no other app has. Its growth story is phenomenal and laudable. But in an attempt to grow numbers, it has taken a beating in perception.

TikTok, as of now, it’s not cool (popular belief). The kind of videos and the quality of users, though the app does symbolise democratization of content, doesn’t add any value to creative outflow.

It is, by all means, frivolous.

Is it bad to be frivolous? Absolutely, not. But frivolity doesn’t bring business.

Hence, now, TikTok’s strong marketing push is all about bringing credibility.

The story is no longer about funny videos, it’s about TikTok influencers/community making money and a living out of the platform. TikTok builds businesses, shapes careers… is the clarion call now.

We wish them luck.

The challenge is: it’s fighting a Herculian reputation battle. Reputation of content viability, seriousness and quality of audience.

Given its huge distribution pipe, nature of videos uploaded on the platform has been targeted and debated, the recent CarryMinati roast video leading to Youtube VS TikTok battle has not helped the cause either.

A barrage of negative reviews and offloads have increased heartburn.

As per a report by Sensor Tower, TikTok downloads in India went down from 35.7 million to 17 million between March and May. The downloads are for both the Google Play Store and the App Store. This accounts for around 51% dip in the app’s number of downloads in the country.

However, TikTok has its share of goodness too. The video-sharing app is the world’s most downloaded non-game app in May and witnessed around 119 million installs globally this month, which is 2 times more than May 2019.

(Source: India TV article).

So here it is.

When you grow big, challenges pop up and it doesn’t help when you are born in China (the entire #BanChinaProducts movement gaining momentum).

However, the app does entertain and engage millions of Indians. It does generate revenue, offers employment and lends a sense of purpose to many, which one can or cannot relate to.

TikTok must understand Indian sentiments, sanitize its content pipeline and stay true its core of being massy, changing its DNA to survive will not help. And yes, the swadeshi VS videshi battle is a long drawn one.

The road is bumpy, going slow and steady will strike home.

But, the clock is ‘tiktoking’.

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