With over 200 million users in India, TikTok has set the internet on fire, giving youths an opportunity to showcase their creativity and skills like never before, yet it comes with challenges to deal with as well. Sachin Sharma, Director Sales and Partnership, TikTok India had a word with Haider Ali Khan on a range of topics related to this wildly favorite app and much more. Don’t miss this conversation.
Did you ever expect the kind of response TikTok has got till now?
Since its launch, TikTok has received an overwhelming response in India. TikTok inspires its over 200 million Indian users across Tier 1, 2 and 3 and even the deepest pockets of the country to share their passion and creative expression through their videos. TikTok enables everyone to be a creator with an easy-to-use and highly interactive interface which provides users with a global platform to showcase their talent and create a unique identity.
What was the thing which was missing before TikTok that it has fulfilled for its target audiences?
Unlike any other platform, TikTok is a short-video platform that enables users to create fun and quirky 15-second videos. The 15-second format compels the users to showcase their creativity and innovation. What sets TikTok apart is that everyone on the platform is making every second count! Our users are either riffing on the trending challenges or creating a new one of their own! The more you are having fun creating your post, the better! In addition to that, TikTok has given millions of users for self-expression, enabling everyone to be a creator in their own right.
Some of TikTok’s popular creators such as Geet and Awal are using the platform to share information with users and educate them. Users such as Pooja Sharma and Urmi Pandya share videos on how-to tips for Yoga, encouraging users join this thriving culture. The 15 second format makes the videos easy to consume.
What are the key attributes for your success story? Is it the cheap data or affordability of smartphones or both?
Increasing internet penetration and lower cost of smartphones are the two primary reasons for more and more Indians opting for a digitally enabled and enhanced lifestyle. Since its launch in the early first half of 2017, TikTok has received an overwhelming response in India. The numbers of users have grown rapidly and TikTok was even crowned as one of India’s most entertaining app according to Google Play Awards 2018 which is a testament to TikTok’s success and popularity in India.
TikTok enables everyone to be a creator and inspires users to share their passion and creative expression through their videos. TikTok has not only grown as a community but has also become an important platform for users to showcase their creativity and talent.
In addition to that, what keeps users engaged is our localisation strategy which helps us in encouraging users to create relevant and local content along with incorporating global trends which have a localised flavour. Our operations team is in sync with the market needs to ensure TikTok provides the best community support for creativity and discovery for our local users. We are committed towards our journey to discover and provide a platform to users to showcase creativity and are continuously working towards improving the user experience and delivering more diverse and compelling content.
What is the present scenario of TikTok in India in terms of active users and daily or monthly downloads?
At present, we are witnessing a growing user interest across regions and markets to express themselves creatively on the platform and gaining popularity worldwide. Consumption of short video content has gained popularity and TikTok offers an outlet to its over 200 million users in India to showcase their talent and connect with like-minded people who appreciate their efforts and also collaborate to create new and interesting content.
What was your take on the hue and cry against TikTok in India which led to its ban, for few days though?
What are changes that TikTok has incorporated to stop vulgarity, nudity, pornography, violence or fake news?
At TikTok, safety of our users on the platform is a key priority. We are committed towards maintaining a safe and positive in-app environment for our users to showcase their creativity and talent along with abiding by and complying with local laws. TikTok in no way endorses or promotes content that is in violation of its comprehensive Community Guidelines.
TikTok has put in place protective measures by combining content moderation technology with a robust human moderation team. This team, which is based in over 20 countries and regions, now covers 36 languages and is constantly growing, an increase of 400% from one year ago. In India, the moderation team covers major Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati and more. The moderation team based on the expansive community guidelines ensures the digital wellbeing of our users.
We have 14 industry-leading features that enable our users to take complete control over their accounts to manage and decide who can engage with their content and account. We recently launched our safety video highlighting these features to spread user-awareness. Some of our key features include comments filter, digital wellbeing (screen-time management and restricted mode), Safety Center in 10 Indian languages, Community Guidelines, age-gate to restrict new users below the age of 13 years, Anti-Bullying resource page among others. Our recently launched safety feature ‘device management’ enables Indian users to avoid the misuse of their accounts by remotely ending sessions or removing their accounts from other devices.
What new TikTok has in its kitty for Indians ahead like in terms of localization?
We are focused on generating relevant and local content while incorporating global trends with a localised flavour. Our operations team proactively taps into the cultural pulse to gain an understanding of what clicks with the users, thereby enabling them to create a more diverse, creative and compelling content. We continuously work towards developing more interactive, localised and trend-setting content.
Some of the most trending hashtags in India include #MeriMaa with almost 880 million views, which had creators express their love for their mothers on International Mothers’ Day, #desifood challenge which is one of the most popular hashtags among Indians, a whopping 4 billion views, who love to share their favourite foods, recipes and places to eat and the ongoing in-app challenge #CricketWorldCup which has been curated an association with ICC and has already garnered over 600 million views.
We also recently also launched the India edition of our global in-app travel campaign, #TikTokTravel. The local in-app campaign #YehMeraIndia showcased India as a key global travel destination and invited TikTok users to share their travel moments with the world. Another great example is the ongoing #EduTok campaign which is a part of TikTok’s commitment to propel India’s creative economy, urges TikTok users to create meaningful and inspiring content around various themes including education, motivational, safety, health and wellness. The campaign has already garnered over 1.9 billion views on the platform.
We also actively hold regular offline Meet and Greets with creators and work with them closely to educate them about the new product and safety features available on the app. As part of this, we recently hosted a Creator’s Lab 2019 event in Mumbai. Such offline meet-ups allow us to reaffirm our commitment towards providing Indian creators the best platform for self-expression. We will continue to support and encourage India’s thriving creative community to use the platform for creative expression.
Do you have plans for the Lite version of TikTok to cater first-time smartphone users?
TikTok already has a lite version that was launched in early 2018. This app is meant to cater to first-time smartphone users who may not have access to a high-speed internet connection and who may have entry-level phones with less storage. TikTok Lite is also in the top five free apps on the Google Play store.
Do we need religious or political diktats or self-regulatory is enough?
At TikTok, safety of its users is of key importance. While, we continuously work to ensure we maintain a positive in-app environment for our community, at the same time, we encourage our users check the content they post and ensure that it adheres to our Community Guidelines and also flag and report content while also using TikTok’s safety and privacy features that further enhance their in-app experience. We believe that safety is a shared responsibility and we would continue to offer innovative and effective safety measures to maintain a safe environment for our users on TikTok.