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Do you know that TikToker's name? Probably not.
Published September 29, 2022
507 words… 3.9 min read
You probably don't know the names of the creators you see on your fyp every time you go on TikTok.
The average length of a TikTok video is 21 to 34 seconds. That's not enough time to build a meaningful relationship with a creator beyond the viral content that makes them a recurring presence in your feed.
Put another way: You likely know creators by what makes them viral on your feed, not anything else.
The user interface isn't built for thoughtful interaction with the creator. Instead, it brings the content front-and-center and makes it frictionless to share a video and continue scrolling.
  • The buttons that matter most to a creator's long-term growth are the most difficult to interact with:
    A tiny Follow button and an unremarkable display for their handle that gets diluted by the auto-generated subtitles and captions. (both circled in red below)
Follow tiktoker
Compared to long-form creators: You probably know the first and last names of your favorite YouTubers / Twitch streamers and maybe even their publishing schedule.
  • This is because your relationship with their content spans minutes and hours, instead of seconds.
Loyal fandom doesn't grow in 20-second spurts. But creators still need to convert viewers into engaged followers who are invested in the creator, not the 20-second viral videos they see on their fyp.

What creators can do about it

To sum it up in Samir Chaudry's words, “the future lies with Community Based Creators.”
TikTok is more effective as a means to other monetizable platforms. Unless you're famous, TikTok isn't where creators can extract value from their fanbase. Sure, creators can do brand deals and make a few bucks from the Creator Fund, but beyond that, TikTok is more effective as a top-of-funnel marketing channel for monetization on other platforms.
  • This is reflected in the types of CTAs you see in captions: “full video on YouTube, follow my Insta / Twitch, Patreon / Stan Store / Fanhouse in bio, etc”
Creators should leverage TikTok as a superfan acquisition channel. It's the best distributor of content to the most relevant audiences, of which 1-3% are likely to convert into superfans who join an off-platform community.
Tightly-knit communities are the backbone of a recurring revenue business model, and TikTok is the tool with which creators can grow those communities outside the app.
Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that what made a creator viral will continue to pay dividends in the form of recurring revenue. If you convert into a superfan outside the app and financially support a creator, chances are you'll know more than their first and last name.
“The future is not a lean-back experience for audiences, it's a lean-in experience that is multi-player allowing the audience to not only watch content but impact the content and build relationships with each other even when the creator isn't uploading.” - Samir Chaudry
This the viable, unglamorous path to building a career as a creator. Scaling a community takes time and effort, but it's what will fuel your long-term career as a creator. 👆
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