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TikTok Creators Social Media

TikTok is ramping up the creator content wars


By Permele Doyle, Co-founder and president

May 17, 2023 | 7 min read

TikTok is developing innovative ways to maximize monetization with creators. But other platforms aren't far behind, writes Billion Dollar Boy's Permele Doyle.

TikTok creator filming herself using a cell phone and a ring light

/ Ivan Samkov

Temperatures have been raised in the battle of the platforms for creator content, with TikTok announcing the expansion of its Creativity Program earlier this month.

The initiative offers top TikTok creators direct funding based on the performance of their content. It’s the latest evolution of TikTok’s Creator Fund, in a move to attract and retain the best creators on the platform with more and better monetization opportunities.

First announced as an invite-only initiative to a handful of creators in February, the expansion now opens up the Creativity Program to US creators with at least 10,000 followers and 100,000 authentic video views in the last 30 days.

Will TikTok’s Creativity Program disrupt the social media landscape?

We’ve already seen many false dawns from TikTok with its creator monetization initiatives. The original TikTok Creator Fund, to which the Creativity Program is now aligned, initially promised a total potential payout of $1bn to creators over three years.

However, we have not yet seen it materialize into any significant earnings for individual creators.

Yet, this latest program offers new hope in addressing creators’ concerns over earning potential with the launch announcement promising to “generate higher revenue potential,” per the company. The fact that trials of the program are now being expanded at least suggests it has had some limited initial success.

Certainly, it represents an improvement on TikTok’s previous Creator Fund which allocated payouts from a set pool of money. This meant that as more creators became eligible, less funding was available overall, reducing individual creators’ earnings potential, regardless of their video performance – which acted as a disincentive. The Creativity Program, on the other hand, is based on what TikTok deems ”qualified views and RPM,” which encourages a higher quality of creator content.

Whether the shift will be enough to disrupt the social media landscape, though, only time will tell. 

What’s certain is that if TikTok wants to make the Creativity Program a success – above and beyond its competitors’ offerings – it will need to provide more transparency on the payouts available. The actual payout amounts are currently impossible to calculate because the existing process doesn’t re-direct money from ads.

Assessing the playing field

Competition in the social media landscape has never been hotter, especially when it comes to the battle for creator content. Platforms are ramping up their revenue-sharing models and creator funds in a bid to attract the top talent.

This year alone, TikTok itself has announced a number of other measures for supporting creator revenues. These include: the ability for creators to paywall some of their content; a relaunch of TikTok Shop in beta in Western markets; and a revamp of the platform’s livestreams in which creators can earn tips during live videos. And just yesterday, the platform launched its new $6m Effect Creator Rewards program to pay the creators behind the app‘s effects and filters.

But TikTok isn’t the only platform optimizing its creator monetization policies. The launch of the Creativity Program precedes news last week that Meta is testing a new payout model for creators based on the performance of their public Reels, rather than the earnings of ads on their Reels.

The week prior, Snapchat launched its Collab Studio, a new way for influencers to connect with brands to create sponsored content. It follows the rollout of a handful of other new and updated creator revenue streams on the platform, including: a beta program that promises to share advertising revenue with select creators; Snapchat Shows, which are longer versions of Snapchat Stories that also offer creators a cut of ad dollars; and special challenges in which influencers can earn cash for top-performing content.

Meanwhile, YouTube last year launched an aggressive new monetization policy designed to grow its market share in the creator economy. The policy will allow creators to earn a 45% share of the revenue from ads viewed between videos in the Shorts Feed.

Even BeReal is starting to show intent in the creator economy with the launch of ‘RealPeople,’ a timeline featuring photos from famous people – which could eventually help the platform break into the creator economy.

How will the creator wars unfold?

The numerous new trials, amendments and launches of creator monetization policies by various platforms demonstrates that many are still figuring out what the best approach is at scale. It’s clear that there is still no single solution that serves as a silver bullet.

The trend suggests, however, a clear direction from all major platforms – creator content holds the key to a long-term, sustainable business model. Create the most exciting, diverse and vibrant content and consumers will keep coming back for more. Wherever the consumers are, brands and ad spend will be – and ultimately that, regardless of any creator monetization initiative, is the real prize for creators.

We can expect platforms to continue testing and tweaking their creator revenue-sharing models and creator fund programs – and the creators to continue to assess their options across different platforms. The finish line in the battle of the platforms for creators remains a long distance ahead, but the pace of change has never been faster.

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Permele Doyle is president and co-founder at Billion Dollar Boy.

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