A long week for TikTok, as app faces ban

098 | TikTok creator fund not designed for creators

Issue #098 | Your reading time this week is 5 mins. 45 secs.

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Author: Scott Guthrie | #098 | 22 March 2023

Welcome to the Fourth Floor newsletter, your weekly feed of the biggest news, developments, insights, and analysis from the ever-evolving world of influencer marketing.

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TikTok’s creator fund wasn’t designed to help creators

TikTok’s $2 billion creator fund was primarily a “reactive measure” against competition rather than a proactive one to court high-calibre content. So says Sean Kim, the former head of product for TikTok’s US operations. Kim was speaking at SXSW and quoted in the Hollywood Reporter.

Other quotable lines: “‘If you see a $2 billion creator fund, who’s actually checking if we paid $2 billion? Nobody. Nobody could check’. When asked by the creator and fellow panelist Cassey Ho (aka Blogilates) if TikTok paid out the $2 billion, Kim responded, ‘No.’”

How creators can work with the Instagram algorithm

Content creator Amy Marietta spills the beans on how creators can boost their content on Instagram. Her tips follow a meeting with Instagram this week. Where did Marietta share her tips? On TikTok of course! Here’s the original TikTok, and a follow-up TikTok which responds to comments from the original. Insider has published a useful round-up of Marietta’s tips. Here are a few of them:

  • Instagram won’t push your Reels to as many people if they're edited with CapCut or have a TikTok watermark

  • The algorithm favours creators who post to their grids every day

  • Only use three hashtags, five tops

  • Optimize captions for search visibility

  • The algorithm favours videos that use trending audio

  • Post six Stories per day — two in the AM, two at midday, and two in the PM

Eight YouTubers sued for $1 billion over FTX claims

Eight YouTubers, plus a talent agency, face a $1 billion lawsuit claiming they “promoted, assisted in, and/or participated in” the sale of “unregistered securities” by FTX. According to TubeFilter, the suit further alleges that creators failed to follow closely the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines about disclosing their financial ties to FTX.

ASA ruling against Mrs Hinch highlights potential pitfalls of creator-owned brands

Last week, Mrs Hinch received the latest in a string of rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority against creators who fail to make it obvious when they’re promoting their own brands.

Last year, Sophie Hinchliffe posted two Instagram Stories promoting one of her own products – a Mrs Hinch-branded notebook.

Complaints around one Instagram Story were upheld. Complaints around the second were not. Of the second IG Story, the ASA stated “the overall effect was that the Story was obviously identifiable as marketing communication for Ms Hinchliffe’s own branded notebook, without the need to be explicitly labeled with an identifier such as ‘ad’”.

2023 is the year that creator-owned, creator-run businesses come to the fore. We're seeing many great examples, from MrBeast Burgers and Feastables, to KSI and Logan Paul’s Prime Hydration, to David Dobrik pizzas - Doughbrik - and Emma Chamberlain's eponymous coffee brand. The list goes on. And this is just the beginning. However, we're also seeing a spate of rulings by the ASA upholding complaints that some creators are failing to make obvious that they're promoting their own brands. I discussed this issue on LinkedIn. The post struck a chord with the community, and provoked a wide range of comments reflecting contrasting points of view.

Buckle up for the wild ride of Crackhead Barney and Friends

Drew Rosenthal and Crackhead Barney front a chaotic interview show on TikTok and Instagram. Part performance art, part anarchy, part social commentary, it’s captivating content imbued with liberation and defiance.

Influencer Marketing | Social Platforms | Fourth Floor | Quick Links | Column

Meta Verification comes to the US

Meta Verification is launching in the US, after a brief trial in Australia and New Zealand. But, unlike the ANZAC alpha tests, the US version of verified won’t include boosts in reach and engagement for subscribers. According to TechCrunch, users found this part of the offering ‘confusing’.

Virtual influencers and AI must be flagged on TikTok

“Synthetic or manipulated media that shows realistic scenes must be clearly disclosed”, writes TikTok in its new community guidelines published this week. According to TikTok, users can disclose that the influencers and content are virtual by adding a “sticker or caption, such as ‘synthetic’, ‘fake’, ‘not real’, or ‘altered’”. I wrote a longer article about this change.

TikTok gives users until April 21st to adhere to new guidelines

TikTok has announced new community guidelines for creators uploading content to its platform. Some of the key changes are:

  • Updated rules for how the platform treats synthetic media - content created or modified by AI technology, as discussed above.

  • Being clearer around its stance on political campaigning, including a ban on campaign ads. TikTok says it does not “allow paid political promotion, political advertising, or fundraising by politicians and political parties (for themselves or others).

TikTok taps creators in bid to stop ban

Handfuls of influencers will be in Washington DC this week to voice support for TikTok, as the app faces a potential ban. Politico reports that these creators will hold a press conference on Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

Quotable: “Lawmakers in Washington debating TikTok should hear firsthand from people whose lives would be directly affected by their decisions,” said TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown. “We look forward to welcoming our creators to our nation’s capital, helping them make their voices heard, and continuing to drive meaningful impact in their lives and for their communities.”

Influencer Marketing | Social Platforms | Fourth Floor | Quick Links | Column

  • YouTube Studio rolls out podcast support and tools for creators

  • → Mars CEO says brand purpose is an essential tool for “quality” companies, in both talent acquisition and driving profit

  • → TikTok hits 150m users in US

Influencer Marketing | Social Platforms | Fourth Floor | Quick Links | Column

A long week for TikTok, as app faces ban

The week’s been ‘suboptimal’ for TikTok around the world, beyond the issues referenced above. Here’s a recap of what’s happened, and what the Chinese-owned app is doing to fight a potential forced sale or complete ban.

The UK, the Netherlands, and New Zealand banned TikTok from government devices this week. The countries follow the lead set by the European Union, which banned the app from the commission’s official devices on Feb 23rd. Canada banned the app on government devices on Feb 28th, and Belgium imposed a ban on official devices on March 10th. The US is now over halfway through a 30-day notice period served on federal agencies to uninstall TikTok from all corporate devices.

The contagion has spread from government to other institutions, along with the private sector. Several US universities have banned TikTok from their computers. This week, the BBC emailed staff saying “if you do not need TikTok for business reasons, TikTok should be deleted from BBC corporate mobile devices.”

In an apparent own goal, organic reach on the platform appears to have been throttled somehow, too. Influencer marketer Jordan Carroll analysed millions of TikToks globally during February to make sense of the algorithm. He found that views are down by a quarter. Engagement rates have dropped by 20%.

The US presidency wants TikTok’s Chinese ownership to sell the app or face a possible ban. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is slated to testify before the US House of Representatives on Thursday.

Would a total ban on TikTok work? “No”, says Chris Stokel-Walker in the Washington Post. “A ban would be an entirely un-American, undemocratic and inappropriate response to an unproven risk that the Chinese-owned platform will share users’ data with Beijing for nefarious purposes. What’s more, banning TikTok would be completely useless in combating a different, much better-evidenced social media pitfall — the spread of dangerous propaganda”.

Some creators think Mark Zuckerberg is the real puppet-master behind TikTok’s potential ban. Iamfiona2pt0 uploaded a video which substituted the Z for an F in Zuckerberg’s name. “I think we’ve all come to the same conclusion that this whole TikTok ban has nothing to do with our safety and everything to do with Meta,” Iamfiona2pt0 said.

How is TikTok fighting back against its proposed sale and potential ban?

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