“I have a million followers. Income about 50 euros. This is how TikTok saturates the creator market | Technology
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José Ángel’s fame on TikTok Paw, a 26-year-old man from Granada, started with a kebab. It was April 2021 and Patica was with his cousin in Cacín, a town in the province. The video is barely 10 seconds long but has that spontaneous and seedy simplicity, usual on TikTok: “Potato with white sauce, and full kebab with double meat, Fanta, long live the ate!”, is all Patica says. With each definition, she puts what she says in her mouth, which she opens without any problem to speak. Her cousin laughs loudly from behind her. The trick is to ingest with unbridled gluttony. “Long live food” became one of her mottos. “With a little bread” is another. Her videos celebrate health, life and eating, and a natural lack of manners: she mixes a plate of spoon, bread and orange Fanta in one bite. She also likes spoonfuls of Cola-Cao powder.
All this works on TikTok, the viral video platform that is taking over the world. It was the most downloaded global app in 2021, it is the fastest to reach 1 billion users since its creation and the average number of hours that US users spend on TikTok has grown by 67% between 2018 and 2021, while in YouTube and Facebook rose less than 10%. The data comes from a report of Information who says that TikTok is the “digital crack epidemic”, because its effect is instantaneous.
“TikTok has saturated the market,” says María Bretón, head of innovation and new business at investment firm Jaguar Path Ventures. “It makes it easy for anyone to create content that, even if it’s not of excessive quality, no matter how little you like it, it goes viral, which encourages you to continue creating and gets people to spend more time on the platform,” she adds. It is a virtuous circle to achieve the grail of platforms: more users who spend more time. recent scholarly article fifteen seconds of fame confirms the centrality for TikTok of viral videos, regardless of who makes them:
Related: for each creator, the inequality in the popularity of their content is much higher on TikTok.
The median TikToker’s most popular video is *64x* more popular than their median video — compared to 40x on YouTube 7/ pic.twitter.com/8u9W1UoRGg
— Kevin Munger (@kmmunger) September 29, 2022
Patica is one of those creators who fell for the viral charm. “When I woke up in the morning it had half a million visits,” he tells EL PAÍS by phone. Patica today has 950,000 followers in just over a year. He dedicates himself non-stop to his videos, uploading at least one a day: “They are about the food that my mother makes me and the work in the fields, which is what I do. The people of the cities have no idea, now I am in the olive campaign”. His aspiration is to help: “Things are very bad. It helps that the children who see me, when they get home and have a plate of lentils or beans, they eat it, because not everything is going to be potatoes, eggs, meat or loin steaks or sausages“, He says.
Patica at the moment only receives money from TikTok, and it is scarce: “She pays you for visits and I like it. You don’t earn a nonsense, not to dedicate yourself to this, 50 euros or 100 if it goes very well, ”she says. With that money one night a month he goes to Granada city to distribute it among beggars. He gives them food: “I go to a supermarket, I buy bread, cold cuts, we make a sandwich, fruit, juice, we put it in a bag and a large bottle of water. We give it to people on the street. You help 20-30 people. They tell you about their life and the problems they have. And listen to them,” he says.
Patica has not yet reached the select club of millionaires on TikTok, although she will soon. It is a large club and does not stop growing. Instagram, created six years before TikTok, has fewer accounts with more than a million followers: in Spain there are 257 for 853 on TikTok, according to data from 11posts.com. It is a global trend: in Mexico there are 383 on Instagram compared to 2,205 on TikTok. Worldwide, according to SocialBlade, TikTok has 39,000 accounts with more than 1 million followers, 16,000 more than Instagram and 9,000 more than YouTube.
This logically causes the prestige that a millionaire account entails to be lower on TikTok. “A million followers is no longer seen as something so spectacular,” says Alfons Vidal, 18, the author of Snoflaa, where he has 2.2 million followers counting tech tricks. “I have two million and I stay the same. I thought that having a million would be spectacular, that it could serve as a job, ”he adds. Now there are people who recognize him, but his impact has no correlation with his following.
But the lack of relationship between followers and viralization is actually one of the advantages of TikTok. EL PAÍS has spoken with six creators who are around or exceed a million. Everyone had their first viral on TikTok shortly after starting. They remember the moment. Voonnie, 19 years old and who dances and sings on her account with 900,000 followers today, remembers that feeling: “It was a video where she walked and sang, nothing more. It had 12 million views. I didn’t know how to fit it. For a month she thought ‘what’s going on here’. She didn’t process the information. It went viral in the US; it was reaching millions of people in another part of the world,” she says.
Christian Morales, author with his grandmother of the Conbuenhumor channel, which has 7.2 million followers, has a similar memory of that initial sensation: “One of the ones I remember from the first months, which became very viral, was one that my Grandma danced dressed as a unicorn. We have videos from that time that exceeded 30 million views. The first weeks I saw that everything was different; the videos went viral very quickly, ours was very sudden, ”he says.
Money is just a complementary part of that feeling, at least among creators who don’t exceed 10 million followers. Voonniie hasn’t even signed up for TikTok’s creator pool to pay its most viral creators. He makes some money with specific campaigns from companies that pay him to make a video about a product. This is what most creators do to take advantage of their audience.
The creator fund is only for very large accounts: “If you don’t have many viral videos, they pay you a pittance,” says Fátima Martínez, a marketing expert with an account of half a million followers on TikTok. “I haven’t had too much difference. Now it is more difficult for a video to go viral. Before you saw the evolution in 20 minutes, ”she says. But despite these difficulties, advertisers are increasingly looking to TikTok: “They are calling me more than ever to do campaigns. Brands know more, they are better advised and they are not so much about the number of followers as about the interaction”, she adds.
Despite this shared sense of saturation, TikTok has plenty of room. “There is more competition, but it is not a zero-sum game,” says Jesús San Román, founder of Binfluencer. “The marketing budgets of influencers They are growing at 50% per year,” he adds. Instagram continues to be the focus because its audience is larger, it has more purchasing power and it allows you to better convert campaigns into revenue. “On Instagram, more money was moved per se. The industry is slow to move those budgets to other networks”, says San Román. The viral strength of TikTok sometimes makes it difficult for it to fit in with the needs of companies: “In TikTok, audiences are more spread out between countries. On Instagram you found creators with a 70% Spanish audience; on TikTok it’s harder to find creators with the most followers in the same country,” he says.
The poor relationship between followers and virality even provokes theories among some creators about what can happen. “It is angry that super viral videos are made random [aleatorios] and not others that take hours of effort”, says Pablo Brotons, a dancer with an account of 1.8 million followers. “Yes, the videos random They are the ones that please me the most. Really once you have followers it is difficult to get more. It’s easy to get fame on TikTok, but it’s hard to keep climbing. For this reason, he explains tiktoker“people with millions of followers have a tenth of views on their videos, because they will have had viral videos and they have followed them, but then they are not followers of their content”.
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