Connect with us

Entertainment

This country banned TikTok. What became of its influencers?

Published

on

This country banned TikTok. What became of its influencers?

Is there life after TikTok?

The question is front of mind for U.S. influencers and many small businesses as lawmakers threaten to ban the Chinese-owned social media app that’s become a cornerstone of internet culture and e-commerce.

For an answer, they might turn to India, which has been surviving without TikTok since June 2020.

That month, after 20 of its soldiers were killed in a border clash with China, the Indian government gave TikTok users a day to post tearful goodbyes and steer followers to other social media accounts. Then the app went dark.

People light candles in Hyderabad on June 17, 2020, in tribute to the 20 soldiers killed during a border clash between Indian and Chinese forces in the Ladakh region.

Advertisement

(Mahesh Kumar A / Associated Press)

“When it got banned, I had nothing,” recalled Gaurav Jain, who was one of the country’s more than 200 million TikTok users.

He was 25 and had just notched his millionth follower making self-help videos about mental health, men’s style and relationships.

Four years later, Jain runs his own social media marketing agency in Delhi, managing Indian content creators who pivoted to other platforms or joined the influencer world more recently. He had tried to make the transition himself but found starting from scratch demoralizing.

Advertisement

“The counter became zero for everyone,” he said. “That gave rise to a lot of new creators.”

The results for former TikTok stars have been mixed.

Gautan Madhavan, founder of Mad Influence, a marketing agency that managed more than 300 content creators before the TikTok ban, said that about a third of them were able to recapture their reach on Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts within three months and that many are still playing catch-up.

Those short-video platforms launched shortly after the TikTok ban. Users who found success got in early and posted as often as 10 times a day, according to Saptarshi Ray, a consultant for influencers trying to grow their followings.

“Most of them were just trying everything,” Ray said. “Those were the creators that really flourished.”

Advertisement
People holding musical instruments and images of a man raise hands in front of a large poster about banned Chinese apps

Activists shout slogans against Chinese President Xi Jinping next to a banner showing the logos of TikTok and other Chinese apps banned in India during a protest in Jammu, India, on July 1, 2020.

(Channi Anand / Associated Press)

India was TikTok’s fastest growing user base before the ban, which cut off a vital source of income for creators there.

The stakes are even higher in the United States, where the app has more than 170 million users, including 7 million businesses that TikTok says generated $14.7 billion in revenue last year from marketing on the platform. The Pew Research Center found that a third of Americans used TikTok last year, up from a fifth in 2021.

In April, President Biden signed a bill to ban the app by January 2025, unless Chinese parent company ByteDance Ltd. agrees to sells the app to somebody from a country that is not considered a foreign adversary.

Advertisement

The threat comes as suspicion between the U.S. and China has escalated, reviving concerns that TikTok could share sensitive data with the Chinese government.

The proposed ban still faces high hurdles. Both TikTok and a group of U.S. content creators separately filed lawsuits, arguing that blocking the app would be an unconstitutional assault on free speech. The Trump administration had also tried to ban TikTok but gave up after being challenged by federal courts.

TikTok has sought to assure the U.S. government that user data is protected on U.S. servers. And though its parent company is based in Beijing, TikTok moved operations to Singapore under a Singaporean chief executive.

The U.S. — along with Britain and Australia — has already prohibited the use of TikTok on government devices. But digital marketing experts said many U.S. users are still not seriously considering the possibility of a ban.

A man carries a Free TikTok sign in front of a building with a crowd of people

A man demonstrates outside the courthouse in New York where the hush money trial of Donald Trump got underway on April 15, 2024.

(Ted Shaffrey / Associated Press)

Advertisement

“I don’t think the average TikTok user has synthesized in their brain that this is going away,” said Lawrence Vincent, associate professor of the practice of marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business. “They’ve heard about it, but it isn’t real until it’s real.”

There has been little anticipatory migration to other platforms. But former TikTokers in India advised their American counterparts to prepare for the worst.

“We used to hear rumors about this happening, but we never really believed it,” said Ashi Khanna, a 26-year-old influencer from Delhi.

She launched her TikTok career by posting lip-synching videos in 2017 — when the app was known as Music.ly — and eventually built a following of 1.7 million. She managed to post a farewell directing them to Instagram and YouTube, where she already had smaller followings. But fewer than 20,000 did so.

Advertisement

Since then, Khanna has concentrated on Instagram and managed to match her old following.

In contrast to TikTok, which never placed a premium on production quality, Instragram required a more polished aesthetic that could mean spending hours on a single reel.

“There’s a huge difference,” Khanna said. “You need to understand what your audience likes, and your audience is not the same on every platform.”

Ankita Chhetri, 22, who lives in Mumbai, said experimentation was the key to life beyond TikTok.

She became TikTok famous in 2019 after posting a video of herself lip-synching to a popular Bollywood song. With 8.2 million followers, she earned promotional deals with music labels and scrapped her plans to be a nurse in hopes of making it as an influencer and actor.

Advertisement

After the ban, she started a YouTube channel and branched out from lip-synching into carefully planned reels of beauty, travel, fashion and inspirational quotes. As she gradually increased her following to 1.6 million, she used her improved engagement statistics to pitch brands on potential partnerships.

Still, Chhetri said there are times she misses the old days.

“TikTok just had some crazy amount of loyalty among audiences,” she said. “On Instagram, even if people are watching and liking your content, they’re still hesitant to press that follow button.”

Indian entrepreneurs created their own versions of TikTok, but failed to get much of an audience.

“It still felt like I was invisible, nobody was really there,” said Shreyas Mendiratta, a 23-year-old hospital worker who posted his comedy videos on Indian startup apps for a few months before giving up. “On TikTok, I felt seen, I felt heard.”

Advertisement
A woman in dark clothes, seated in a wheelchair against a green background, records herself on her cellphone

Geet Jain records herself for social media.

(Courtesy of Geet Jain)

His videos don’t do as well on Instagram and YouTube either, which he suggested lack TikTok’s broad international appeal.

“It reduces the chances of them going global,” he said. “This is what I face on Instagram daily. I am very restricted to the region that I am geographically located in.”

Geet Jain, an inspirational speaker and English teacher, was visiting the U.S. when India banned TikTok. She could still use the app, but none of her 7 million followers in India could see her posts offering relationship advice, comedy bits and English lessons.

Advertisement

“It was like this whirlwind of confusion of what do I do next,” said Jain, who declined to provide her age.

She turned to Instagram, growing 68,000 followers into 1.3 million. But she never achieved the same kind of exponential growth. Some of her TikTok fans had a difficult time finding her.

Back in the U.S. this year for an extended stay with her sister in Seattle, she has started posting on TikTok once more.

A woman sits on a bed, as a man stands nearby, with recording equipment in the room

Geet Jain, an inspirational speaker and English teacher in India, was in the U.S. when India banned TikTok in June 2020.
Back in the U.S. this year for an extended stay in Seattle, she has started posting on TikTok once more.

(Courtesy of Geet Jain)

Advertisement

But she no longer knows what viewers want. Clips have gotten longer, with more casually narrated stories and less dancing and lip-synching than she remembers. There is more competition when it comes to her style of educational content.

While some of her English-language videos have gotten traction, she’s reluctant to invest too heavily in TikTok again.

“If it gets banned in America, it will be even more devastating for me,” she said. “Then my accounts are actually gone.”

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Twisters (2024) –

Published

on

Movie Review: Twisters (2024) –

A staff report

Genre: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Release Date: Friday, July 19, 2024
Director: Steven Harper
Starring: Edgar-Jones, Powell, Ramos
Rating: ★★★★☆

As storm season sweeps across the silver screen in “Twisters”, director Steven Harper delivers a gripping tale of adrenaline-fueled action set against the tumultuous backdrop of Oklahoma’s tornado alley. With an impressive 80% fresh rating on the Tomatometer, this film promises a thrilling ride for audiences seeking heart-pounding suspense and breathtaking visual effects.

The story centers around Kate Carter (played by Edgar-Jones), a seasoned meteorologist turned cautious researcher in New York City, haunted by a traumatic tornado encounter from her college days. Drawn back into the tempestuous world of storm chasing by her friend Javi (Ramos), Kate finds herself confronting not only the fury of nature but also her own fears.

Enter Tyler Owens (Powell), a charismatic social-media maverick whose daredevil antics and thrill-seeking escapades with his crew make him a viral sensation. Together, Kate, Tyler, and their teams embark on a daring mission to test a revolutionary tracking system amidst unprecedented storm activity.

Advertisement

Harper masterfully intertwines elements of action, adventure, and suspense as the storm season escalates to unprecedented levels of intensity. The visual spectacle is nothing short of breathtaking, with jaw-dropping tornado sequences and high-stakes encounters that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

The cast delivers compelling performances, with Edgar-Jones portraying Kate’s internal struggle and determination with depth and vulnerability. Powell brings charisma and a hint of recklessness to Tyler, balancing the film’s emotional core with adrenaline-pumping excitement.

Supporting characters, including Javi and Tyler’s crew members, add layers of camaraderie and tension, enhancing the film’s dynamic ensemble. The chemistry between the leads feels genuine, grounding the narrative amidst the chaos of nature’s fury.

While “Twisters” thrills with its action-packed sequences and impressive visual effects, it also explores themes of courage, redemption, and the relentless pursuit of scientific discovery. The storm-chasing backdrop serves not only as a canvas for thrilling set pieces but also as a metaphor for confronting one’s past and embracing the unknown.

In conclusion, “Twisters” (2024) stands out as a must-watch summer blockbuster, blending pulse-pounding excitement with compelling storytelling and standout performances. Whether you’re a fan of disaster epics or simply seeking an exhilarating cinematic experience, buckle up for a ride through the eye of the storm with Kate, Tyler, and their fearless crews.

Advertisement

About Author

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Entertainment

Larry Vallon, L.A. concert executive behind the Universal Amphitheatre, dies at 77

Published

on

Larry Vallon, L.A. concert executive behind the Universal Amphitheatre, dies at 77

Larry Vallon, the longtime concert executive for AEG and others who turned the Universal Amphitheatre into a regional powerhouse, has died. He was 77.

A representative for AEG confirmed Vallon’s death on July 14 due to complications from Alzheimer’s.

Vallon’s career in concert promotion spanned five decades, beginning with a stint as a page on Bob Eubanks’ “The Newlywed Game.” He went on to work for promoters like Wolf and Rissmiller Concerts and founded his own firm, Larry Vallon Presents.

He spent 23 years at the firm that became Universal Concerts (and later House Of Blues Concerts), where he worked under longtime mentor and Hollywood mogul Lew Wasserman. He booked shows for A-list acts including the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and the Who, and won Pollstar’s Talent Buyer of the Year award four times.

Locally, Vallon renovated and ran the former Universal Amphitheatre in the late ’80s, making it into a globally recognizable venue for acts like Frank Sinatra and Linda Ronstadt, who each had residencies there. Under Vallon, the venue was a popular site throughout the ’90s for acts like Maná, Juanes and Julio Iglesias (who played an 18-date run there), helping to seed the growth of Latin and Spanish-language music in the U.S.

Advertisement

Vallon moved to AEG in 2004, and spent 15 years at the company before retiring in 2019. While at Universal in 1984, Vallon had hired future AEG Presents Chief Executive Jay Marciano, who told Hits Daily Double, “He was a friend, mentor and the big brother I never had, the most positive person I have ever known, and he could really make me laugh. My life is so much better from having known him. Loved that man.”

Vallon is is survived by his wife, Claudia; daughters Vanessa Vallon and Kelly Vallon Ciccotti; and son-in-law Matt Ciccotti.

Continue Reading

Movie Reviews

Film Review: Operation Undead (2024) by Kongkiat Komesiri

Published

on

Film Review: Operation Undead (2024) by Kongkiat Komesiri

“Operation Undead” is an excellent zombie movie, both for the action and horror, but also for its anti-war and historic comments

As we have mentioned before, the zombie genre is one that has been done to death throughout the history of modern cinema. However, a number of filmmakers who still decide to deal with the concept, manage to find new elements to add, in one of the reasons zombies keep going (pun intended). Thai Kongkiat Komesiri is definitely among those. 

The film begins in 1939, during World War II in Chumphon Province, where Mek, a new sergeant, just learns that his girlfriend is pregnant. In the meantime, his younger brother, Mok, is in the Youth Soldier unit, and as war has not yet hit the area, spends his time having fun and shenanigans with his fellow soldiers. Alas, it is at that moment that the Japanese forces approach the area, and the whole population face death and destruction. The Japanese, however, apart from taking over the province for strategic reasons, they have also decided to test a new biological weapon on the locals. The result is a superhuman horde of Thai soldiers that function like zombies, but a number of them still retain their conscience. Not to mention they have a leader. Eventually, Thai and Japanese forces declare a ceasefire to deal with the threat, and Mek receives a special covert mission to clean up the area alongside a Japanese combat unit, unaware that this might include his own brother.

The uniqueness of Kongkiat Komesiri’s approach to the zombie trope is actually multifold. Evidently, the most obvious one is the fact that the zombies still have a brain and can think and feel, while the fact that they are organized under the leadership of a ‘commander’ adds even more to the threat they present to the humans. More impressively though, is the way the filmmakers use zombies to show the dehumanizing nature of war, or even civil war one could say, as this time brother faces brother. Furthermore, the accusation towards the Japanese for the experiments using humans they undertook during the various military expeditions, is also palpable.

If you like Operation Undead, check also this article

Lastly, and probably even more impressively, the parallel with Thai history during WW2 is quite eloquent in a rather intelligent approach. Thailand actually made an agreement with the Japanese that led to an armistice and military alliance treaty that allowed the passage of Japanese troops towards British-held Malaya and Burma. After the invasion, the cooperation continued, and eventually led to the government splitting into two factions, one Pro-Japan and and pro-Allies. As the actual war hit the country very briefly, the victims were very few but Thais suffered deaths due to diseases that reached more than 5,500 thousand. Evidently, the parallel with the story could not be more obvious. 

Advertisement

All the aforementioned, as much as the impact of what the two armies and the zombies are doing on the area, to the locals, induce the movie with an intense sense of drama, which works quite well most of the time. Unfortunately, on a number of occasions, and more towards the end, the movie goes into intensely melodramatic paths, something that definitely detracts from its impact. At the same time, this element, the zombies, and the anti-Japanese sentiment is probably what will make the movie popular in Korea, with K-Movie entertainment already having purchased the rights.

The acting by the two main protagonists is quite good. Nonkul as Mek and Awat Ratanapintha as Mok are quite good in their antithetical roles, while handling the drama in a style fitting to the overall approach of the narrative. Supitcha Sangkhachinda as Mek’s girlfriend is also good, particularly in the dramatic parts. 

Expectedly, though, “Operation Undead” is also about the action, and in that regard, it definitely thrives. The zombies look as scary as possible, with the occasionally frantic editing that results in sequences of thunderous speed adding much to this element. The brutality is found in large proportions, adding to the entertainment the movie offers, in a style that zombie lovers will definitely appreciate. The sound is also greatly implemented, adding to the agony and tension, while the job done in the cinematography does not omit highlighting the beauties of the area.

Despite the fact that it definitely goes a bit too strong on the melodrama, “Operation Undead” is an excellent zombie movie, both for the action and horror, but also for its anti-war and historic comments that definitely deem it a stand out in the category. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending