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Oracle Wins in TikTok Takeover Race, Though Technical Questions Remain

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With the White House’s September 15th (or 20th) deadline looming, it looks as though TikTok will remain in operation in the US, with a consortium bid, lead by enterprise software giant Oracle, named on Sunday as the preferred partner by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal:

“Oracle [has] won the bidding for the US operations of the video-sharing app TikTok, a person familiar with the matter said. […] Oracle is set to be announced as TikTok’s “trusted tech partner” in the U.S., and the deal is likely not to be structured as an outright sale, the person said.”

Microsoft officially confirmed that it was out of the running for TikTok earlier in the day, with short statement posted on the Microsoft blog.

ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests.”

Microsoft noted that it was focused on improving the platform’s security measures, addressing user privacy concerns, and combating disinformation:

“We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas.”

The statement seemed pointed towards key issues that maybe Microsoft doesn’t believe the Oracle-lead bid will be as well-suited to address. But ByteDance chose not to go with the Microsoft plan – which sets up a very interesting scenario for the future of the fast-growing video app.

Of specific interest is how TikTok will now work under its new ownership, once all the details are established – because also on Sunday, a report in the South China Morning Post explained that due to the Chinese Government’s new regulations restricting the sale of technological advancements to foreign companies, TikTok’s algorithms will not be included in the deal.

As per SCMP:

“[ByteDance] will not hand out source code to any US buyer, but the technology team of TikTok in the US can develop a new algorithm,” according to a source. The source, who did not want to be identified, said ByteDance had notified US authorities and potential bidders of the decision.”

If this is correct, then it seems that Oracle and its consortium partners will essentially be paying for the TikTok brand name, and access to its 100 million+ monthly active users in the US. 

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What the impact of not including TikTok’s algorithms would be is difficult to say – some have suggested that TikTok, without its powerful machine learning system, will “wither and die“, while others expect that building a similar system, on top of its current base, won’t be so complex.

But it doesn’t seem like the ideal starting point for a non-social media company to be wading into – Oracle has no experience in managing social platforms, while its investment firm partners in its TikTok bid will be focused on revenue, and you would expect, will be keen to monetize the platform as much and as fast as possible in order to maximize their return.

And while it may seem like it can’t be that complex to formulate an algorithm based on the current TikTok base, there’s a lot that’s gone into the app’s success. TikTok’s rapid growth was built on the back of ByteDance’s years of experience in creating other social networks in China, including the Chinese-only version of TikTok, called ‘Douyin’, which was a huge success before they even considered launching TikTok in the US.

Douyin

Indeed, Douyin was launched in 2016, two full years before ByteDance purchased and re-branded Musical.ly as TikTok in western markets in August 2018. In those two years, ByteDance had been able to establish key learnings on what works, what resonates, and formulate its algorithms based on millions of people already engaging within the app.

That gave TikTok a massive jump start – so while the system may appear fairly basic, and it may seem like another company will be able to work out a recommendation algorithm that’s close enough to be viable, a lot more work has gone into developing TikTok’s systems than many expect.

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But of course, Oracle and Co. know this, this is not new information. Yet, they’re still willing to go ahead. There must be some level of confidence that they’ll come out on top here, that they can progress, in limited partnership with ByteDance, and build a successful platform.

Will that happen? I wouldn’t bet on it.

That’s not to say TikTok is doomed, it could be fine, it could work out okay. But various examples suggest that this will not be smooth sailing, and while TikTok still continues to grow and become a bigger platform, it’s not too big to fail. Definitely not.

Vine, which was essentially the precursor to TikTok had more than 200 million active users at peak, but it failed because parent company Twitter couldn’t work out an equitable monetization process in order to keep its top creators from migrating to YouTube and Instagram instead. Twitter’s management is obviously very experienced in social media and maximizing engagement, it had a huge knowledge base of people who knew the field inside and out. Yet that wasn’t enough to keep Vine running – and worth noting, Vine founder Dom Hoffman has made paying creators a top priority with his new app Byte, which he launched earlier this year.    

Snapchat is another platform that almost lost out by ignoring creators for years, before eventually coming around and refocusing its efforts on establishing a more equitable partnership-type system, which now ensures that top users are compensated and motivated to maintain engagement, helping to maximize usage. 

TikTok has also acknowledged the importance of such with its Creator Fund program, through which it plans to pay out a billion dollars in the next three years to its top creators.

TikTok Creator Fund

But that program is already facing problems, with the first round of participants citing poor payout amounts and impacts on their reach, which some have speculated is due to TikTok limiting their viewership in order to reduce payout amounts.

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This is a complex area, that will take experience and expertise to manage. And while TikTok definitely has the experience in ex-YouTube exec Vanessa Pappas, I can’t help but think that Oracle is not the best fit for the company in this respect.

Microsoft might not be either, but LinkedIn has continued to grow under its ownership. At least it has some base of knowledge in this area to tap into.

If the new TikTok team can’t work out the key algorithm details, can’t evolve its monetization programs, and can’t, essentially, learn from the mistakes that other platforms have made in the past, it will fall flat. That might be difficult to envision now – especially with TikTok once again leading the app download charts in August. But it can, absolutely fail. And even with those great download stats, in 2020, who knows what they truly represent?

Social media usage is way up on normal amounts as people look for distractions during the various lockdowns and in replacement of their normal social gatherings and entertainment events. TikTok’s numbers are clearly being inflated beyond what’s normal because of this – so in normal times, how many people will be using TikTok as much? 

And with new ownership that’s less familiar with dealing with the ebbs and flows of social platform engagement, can it overcome these key challenges and still establish itself as a key player in social media space?

As noted, there are still many technical details to be clarified yet, so no one knows for sure how it will all play out. But there are many moving parts, and various potential pitfalls that could end up derailing the app. 

Socialmediatoday.com

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5 Trends that will Dominate Influencer Marketing in 2022 [Infographic]

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5 Trends that will Dominate Influencer Marketing in 2022 [Infographic]


Is influencer marketing part of your digital marketing strategy for 2022?

With the rise of more creative, more native-aligned platforms and spaces, brands are increasingly relying on influencers to connect with new audiences, while the growing use of AR and other new technologies also necessitates a familiarity with platforms that takes time and knowledge to maximize.

Influencers can be a great avenue in streamlining such process, but you have to know your audience, and what kinds of influencers they’re tuning into, in order to get the most out of your influencer marketing efforts.

To provide some more context on this, the team from SocialPubli has put together this overview of five key influencer marketing trends of note for 2022. And while these notes won’t address all of the info you need, they could help you formulate a better outreach strategy, based on the latest trends and shifts within the creator space.

Check out the full infographic listing below.



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Twitter Publishes New Industry Trend Reports Based on Rising Areas of Tweet Engagement

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Twitter Publishes New Industry Trend Reports Based on Rising Areas of Tweet Engagement


Twitter has published a new range of industry reports, based on rising trends, in order to provide more context as to the key elements of focus among its userbase in each sector.

The new trend reports, which Twitter’s collectively calling its ‘Birdseye Report’, were compiled by Twitter data partners, including Hootsuite, Meltwater, Sprinklr and more. Each partner took on a specific element of expanded Twitter conversation, giving each discussion and industry dedicated focus, providing in-depth insight into the latest key shifts in the app.

You can download all the Birdseye Reports here, but in this post, we’ll look at some of the key highlights.

First off, the reports are based on a range of key tweet trends over the past year.

Those trends include:

  • Digital First – Digital Ethics, Cyber Individuality and Metaverse dominated the technology conversation on Twitter
  • The Crypto Craze – “Crypto” mentions on Twitter increased 549% in 2021
  • Future of Sports – Tweets around the metaverse + sports rose 6,024%
  • Bring the Sweets Back – Conversations around nostalgia for sweets, chocolate and candy grew 55% between January and October 2021
  • Mental Health Matters – Monthly “mental health” mentions from 2019 to 2021 on Twitter grew 44.7%

As you can see here, you can select the specific sector report you want to read, all of which are available via email sign-up – though you can select not to have Twitter or the providing company contact you as a result of your interest.

Each report covers the top trends in each sector, based on tweet discussion, which points to rising areas of opportunity and focus for your tweet marketing.

Twitter Birdseye Report

As you can see here, the reports include both broad trend results, like these, highlighting bigger shifts in each sector, as well as more specific tweet engagement shifts, relative to key focus elements.

Twitter Birdseye Report

Those insights could help to shape your marketing approach, while each report also includes a range of more in-depth pointers and data points to help guide your understanding of what the Twitter audiences is most interested in. 

Twitter Birdseye Report

There are also demographic insights: 

Twitter Birdseye Report

As well as summary points for each, helping to ensure marketers can make the most of each report:

Twitter Birdseye Report

There’s a heap of great insight here, and if you’re working in any of the highlighted sectors, and are looking to improve your Twitter approach, it’s definitely worth downloading the data and checking out the findings.

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Even if you’re not looking to improve your Twitter strategy, it’s likely worth getting access to the insights and seeing what people are most interested in for each segment.

You can download all the Twitter Birdseye reports here.





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92-year-old Malawian music legend finds fame on TikTok

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92-year-old Malawian music legend finds fame on TikTok


Fame at 92: Malawian music legend Giddes Chalamanda has notched up millions of views on TikTok – Copyright AFP Bertha WANG

Jack McBrams

At 92, Giddes Chalamanda has no idea what TikTok is. He doesn’t even own a smartphone.

And yet the Malawian music legend has become a social media star, with his song “Linny Hoo” garnering over 80 million views on the video-sharing platform and spawning mashups and remixes from South Africa to the Philippines.

“They come and show me the videos on their phones, but I have no idea how it works,” Chalamanda told AFP at his home on the edge of a macadamia plantation, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Malawi’s main city Blantyre.

“But I love the fact that people are enjoying themselves and that my talent is getting the right attention,” he said, speaking in Chewa.

Despite his grey hair and slight stoop, the nonagenarian singer and guitarist, who has been a constant presence on the Malawian music scene for seven decades, displays a youthful exuberance as he sits chatting with a group of young fans.

He first recorded “Linny”, an ode to one of his daughters, in 2000.

But global acclaim only came two decades later when Patience Namadingo, a young gospel artist, teamed up with Chalamanda to record a reggae remix of “Linny” titled “Linny Hoo”.

The black-and-white video of the recording shows a smiling, gap-toothed Chalamanda, nattily dressed in a white shirt and V-neck sweater, jamming with Namadingo under a tree outside his home, with a group of neighbours looking on.

The video went viral after it was posted on YouTube, where it racked up more than 6.9 million views. Then late last year, it landed on TikTok and toured the globe.

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Chalamanda only learned of the song’s sensational social media popularity from his children and their friends.

Since then he and Namadingo have recorded remixes of several others of his best-known tracks.

His daughter Linny’s 16-year-old son Stepson Austin told AFP that he was proud of his grandfather’s longevity.

“It is good that he has lived long enough to see this day,” said the youngster, who himself aspires to become a hip-hop artist.

Born in Chiradzulu, a small town in southern Malawi, Chalamanda won fame in his homeland with lilting songs such as “Buffalo Soldier” in which he dreams of visiting America and “Napolo”.

Over the past decade, he has collaborated with several younger musicians and still performs across the country.

– ‘Dance around the world’ –

On TikTok, DJs and ordinary fans have created their own remixes as part of a #LinnyHooChallenge.

“When his music starts playing in a club or at a festival, everyone gets the urge to dance. That is how appealing it is,” musician and long-time collaborator Davis Njobvu told AFP.

“The fact that he has been there long enough to work with the young ones is special.”

South Africa-based music producer Joe Machingura attributed the global appeal of a song recorded in Chewa, one of Malawi’s most widely-spoken languages, to the sentiments underlying it.

“The old man sang with so much passion, it connects with whoever listens to it,” he said, adding: “It speaks to your soul.”

Chalamanda, a twice-married father of 14 children, only seven of whom, including Linny, are still alive, said he has no idea how to secure royalties for the TikTok plays.

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Chalamanda and his wife hope to benefit financially from his new-found stardom.

“I am just surprised that despite the popularity of the song, there is nothing for me,” he said. “While I am excited that I have made people dance all around the world, there should be some gain for me. I need the money.”

His manager Pemphero Mphande told AFP that he was looking into the issue and the Copyright Society of Malawi said it was ready to assist.

Arts curator Tammy Mbendera of the Festival Institute in Malawi credited platforms like TikTok with creating new opportunities for African talent.

“With songs from our past especially, they were written with such profoundness that they still can resonate today,” she said.

“All one has to do really, is get the chance to experience it, to acknowledge its significance. I think that’s what happened here.”



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