TikTok’s ratings have taken a hit from 4.5 stars to almost 1.3 star on Google Play Store
What started as an argument between content creators has now rolled up into large a controversy so much as that China’s ByteDance is under fire for its short-form video content platform TikTok. In the last two days, not only TikTok’s ratings have gone down massively to one star on Google Play Store, hashtags such as #BanTikTokinIndia has been trending on social media platforms such as Twitter. “Promoting a safe and positive environment is a top priority for TikTok. Our terms of services and community guidelines (policies) clearly outline what is and is not acceptable on our platform. We expect our users to adhere to these policies at all times,” TikTok said in an official statement.
To be sure, the controversy will not have any impact on the advertising revenue, as industry analysts believe that marketers will continue to advertise on the platform thanks to the vast consumer base, which goes beyond tier 1 cities. “TikTok is among the top five brands when it comes to being a youth-centric platform. For marketers, there is extensive data, consumer base as well as relevance when it comes to the platform,” Preetam Thingalaya, director of media, Mirum India, said.
Another reason is that brands don’t react to every macro trend related to the platform. According to Karthik Nagarajan, chief content officer, Wavemaker India, a brand’s social media strategy needs to be fluid enough. “Brands need to wear an ‘always on’ brand safety lens on social media. The criticality of this is independent of any one issue,” he added.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that the platform has drawn the ire in India. In 2019, the Madras High Court had asked the government to prohibit further downloads of the platform. The ban was lifted later. Post this the platform posted over 2 billion downloads from App store and Play store, with India contributing to the largest share of the pie with 611 million downloads, according to a report released by Sensor Tower in April 2020. “The truth is, none of the social platforms is really geared to handle toxic user behaviour at scale. These platforms are probably doing their best but they are not designed to do this in real time or even exhaustively,” Nagarajan added. According to Prashant Sharma, CMO, NOFILTR Group, brands will need to keep a hygiene check whether it is the choice of platforms, influencers or content.
Despite the ongoing controversies around the platform, TikTok is here to stay, believe brand experts. “TikTok represents the platinum standard of social media utilisation nationwide. Its strength is its user base, participation norm and user-passion. No social media vehicle in India is able to replicate TikTok on this,” Harish Bijoor, brand expert and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc stated adding that brands will spend on TikTok. Brands will be cautious, the only fear factor being the niggling thought whether there will be a ban on the medium in the near or medium future.