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Nepali TikTok influencers reel after sudden ban

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Influencer Anjana Aryal earned almost $3,000 in October from endorsements on TikTok but her income has been hit by Nepal's ban on the app

Influencer Anjana Aryal earned almost $3,000 in October from endorsements on TikTok but her income has been hit by Nepal’s ban on the app – Copyright AFP PRAKASH MATHEMA

Paavan MATHEMA

Nepali influencer Anjana Aryal went from homemaker to entrepreneur by sharing recipes on TikTok, but her lucrative business collapsed last month when the Himalayan republic banned the Chinese-owned short video app.

Filming with her mobile phone in one hand and cooking with the other, Aryal rapidly became a social media star in Nepal last year, garnering millions of views from a following of nearly 600,000 people.

That all came to a sudden halt when Nepal banned TikTok to protect “social harmony”, following similar restrictions imposed in other countries on concerns over data security, obscene content and its owner’s alleged ties to the Chinese government.

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“My life changed a lot because of TikTok, a lot,” Aryal, 39, told AFP from her home in Kathmandu. “So many recognise me because of TikTok wherever I go.”

She earned nearly $3,000 from endorsement deals just in October, more than double Nepal’s average yearly income.

Encouraged by her audience, Aryal also started a business selling her own brand of pickles, which saw her inbox flooded with orders.

But since the ban, Aryal and other prominent Nepali content creators have seen their revenue streams dry up, jeopardising their livelihoods.

“People were earning, running businesses or just being entertained on TikTok. Everyone has been affected now and they don’t know what to do,” she said.

Owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms on the planet with more than one billion users.

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Its explosive growth has given its content creators and influencers an immense audience, and its editing features and AI-powered algorithm have proved particularly attractive.

But the algorithm is opaque and often accused of putting users into content silos, and the platform has also been blamed for spreading disinformation.

It has faced intense scrutiny in the United States and other nations over user data security and the company’s alleged ties to Beijing.

Multiple countries have sought to tighten controls on TikTok, and the platform has been banned in neighbouring India.

– ‘Start from zero’ –

Growing criticism of the app has worried influencers around the world.

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Some, such as those in Pakistan, have lost income because of periodic government restrictions on TikTok.

Others in the United States have voiced fears to local media about losing thousands of dollars in income if bans are enforced.

Nepal’s government justified its ban on the platform by accusing it of damaging the Himalayan republic’s social fabric.

It came days before a huge rally called by a prominent businessman who was using TikTok to organise a campaign demanding the reinstatement of Nepal’s monarchy.

Dozens of content creators staged a rally in Kathmandu demanding the ban be lifted last month.

Advocate Dinesh Tripathi, who is challenging the decision in court, said the ban was an attack on people’s freedom of speech because the government was fearful of “dissenting voices”.

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“The state’s first and foremost duty is to facilitate the people to exercise their rights and freedom, not prohibit it,” he said.

Manish Adhikari, who uses TikTok to discuss cars and Nepali start-ups, said he had several endorsement deals scuttled by the ban.

“Brands started to call me… and I wondered if I was getting out of business, is my work going to stop?” Adhikari said.

Adhikari has shifted to Instagram but the views and followings are a fraction of his earlier audience.

“I lost all my audience because I was not as active on any other platform,” he said. “Now I have to start from zero.”

There are around 2.2 million TikTok users among Nepal’s 30 million people, according to the Internet Service Providers Association.

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But Monayac Karki, founder of Nepali influencer marketing agency Uptrendly, said TikTok’s popularity had been rising exponentially.

He added that the ban had torpedoed a market with an estimated worth in excess of $5 million each year for advertisers and content creators, and which was set to grow rapidly.

“I really hope this ban is a temporary one and it will be lifted soon,” he said.

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

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This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

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“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

Instagram’s testing out some new options to help spice up your live-streams in the app, with some live broadcasters now able to select a game that they can play with viewers in-stream.

As you can see in these example screens, posted by Ahmed Ghanem, some creators now have the option to play either “This or That”, a question and answer prompt that you can share with your viewers, or “Trivia”, to generate more engagement within your IG live-streams.

That could be a simple way to spark more conversation and interaction, which could then lead into further engagement opportunities from your live audience.

Meta’s been exploring more ways to make live-streaming a bigger consideration for IG creators, with a view to live-streams potentially catching on with more users.

That includes the gradual expansion of its “Stars” live-stream donation program, giving more creators in more regions a means to accept donations from live-stream viewers, while back in December, Instagram also added some new options to make it easier to go live using third-party tools via desktop PCs.

Live streaming has been a major shift in China, where shopping live-streams, in particular, have led to massive opportunities for streaming platforms. They haven’t caught on in the same way in Western regions, but as TikTok and YouTube look to push live-stream adoption, there is still a chance that they will become a much bigger element in future.

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Which is why IG is also trying to stay in touch, and add more ways for its creators to engage via streams. Live-stream games is another element within this, which could make this a better community-building, and potentially sales-driving option.

We’ve asked Instagram for more information on this test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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