Tech

TikTok’s Cameo competitor could change its relationship with creators, who are frustrated with low payouts

  • TikTok’s new feature gives creators another way to monetize content with custom per-request videos.
  • One industry insider said it was “kind of strange” and didn’t “suit the nature of TikTok.”
  • But it has the potential to transform the app’s complicated relationship with creators.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

TikTok has a complex relationship with its creators. Its experiment with its new Shoutouts feature could fundamentally change that relationship — and pose a challenge to Cameo.

Like Cameo, Shoutouts allows people to pay creators directly for custom video messages. Shoutouts has been live in a number of countries after a quiet launch but TikTok has declined say whether and when it might be fully rolled out.

Shoutouts could be a defense against fierce competition to dominate the growing creator economy. The likes of YouTube and Instagram have, for example, launched short-form-video services that put them on the same turf as TikTok.

Shoutouts could also address unhappiness with low payouts from TikTok’s much-hyped $500 million Creator Fund, which makes payments to creators whose videos do well. It could also pose a direct challenge to Cameo, which now caters for influencers as well as celebrities.

To succeed with Shoutouts, TikTok will need to change its relationship with creators, which is fundamentally different from its competitors’: it will have to put more focus on their power to attract audiences.

The TikTok platform prioritizes the “for you” landing page, where users are shown videos suggested by an algorithm. This is unlike YouTube, which focuses on direct subscriptions to channels.

The “for you” page makes the connection between TikTok creators and fans weaker than on other platforms, despite TikTok publicly emphasizing how important its creators are.

In a recent widely shared TikTok video, one creator estimated that TikTok gave 7.5 times less of its revenue to creators than YouTube.

Fabian Ouwehand, the founder of the influencer-management company Many, said the Shoutouts feature was “kind of strange” and didn’t “suit the nature of TikTok.”

He added: “It shows TikTok is moving into more creator monetization opportunities, and creators can keep control over the way they make money.”

Anna Bogomolova, a UK TikToker with 2.4 million followers, said the emphasis on the “for you” page meant that most people didn’t scroll directly to the feeds of creators.

But she added that some creators had grown their follower bases in recent months because more of their content was on that page. “People recognize their content and their face — and they’re more likely to interact with the content if they know the creator,” she said.

Quinten Hyde, a Dutch TikToker with 220,000 followers, welcomed Shoutouts as a prospective extra income stream. He recalled the early days of the app, when all creators could earn were gifts during livestreams.

Timothy Armoo of the influencer agency Fanbytes said Shoutouts could solidify TikTok’s position “as being for the creators and taking away that mantle from YouTube.”

He suggested that TikTok could eventually create a service where people subscribed to creators directly, similar to OnlyFans. “We’re seeing the beginning of that fan-creator monetization journey direct on platforms,” he said.

Mike Metzler of the analytics platform Conviva said Shoutouts could build on TikTok livestreams, where “people are already throwing money at them. This will be a better way for people to get that guaranteed shoutout they really crave.”

He called it a logical extension of TikTok’s Q&As, where users ask TikTokers questions directly. “It’s a crafty way to build upon something that they sort of already had, and to monetize it,” he said.

Karyn Spencer of the influencer-marketing firm Whalar said Shoutouts could help creators who “have to wake up every day and decide what kind of content they’re going to create to cover their overheads and time.”

If TikTok can ease that stress, it can avoid dissatisfaction down the road.

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