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TikTok throws weight behind SA’s booming creator economy

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 08 Sept 2023
TikTok says it helps creators and influencers to develop content that is relevant to their target market.
TikTok says it helps creators and influencers to develop content that is relevant to their target market.

TikTok South Africa is investing heavily in the content creator economy, as local businesses increasingly take to the short-form video platform to connect with their communities, it says.

Billed as SA’s fastest-growing social media network, TikTok says it has seen huge demand, with local enterprises and SMEs taking to its TikTok for Business offering to engage with and grow their customer base.

The short video platform says it’s constantly investing in new creative tools and initiatives, to help creators and influencers to develop content that is relevant to their target market, while increasing the brand exposure of their business clients.

Spending in SA’s influencer advertising market is expected to show an annual growth rate of 11.60%, resulting in a projected market volume of $37.38 million by 2027, according to research firm Statista.

Greg Bailie, sales lead for global business solutions at TikTok Sub-Saharan Africa, tells ITWeb more and more brands are realising the value of social media marketing and social commerce, with TikTok for Business witnessing escalating growth since it launched locally in 2021.

“TikTiK is very much an upper funnel brand awareness platform and has the ability to drive purchase behaviour both online and offline. What has been incredible from a South African perspective is seeing brands across all verticals – from fast-moving consumer goods, to telcos, banks and financial services, as well as some of the major e-commerce players − all leaning towards this platform.

“Over the last two years, we’ve incubated over 350 local creators. Our user operations team has heavily invested in building out the creator economy. We have several local initiatives, including the Level Up programme, where we incubate up-and-coming creator talent, and help them strategise and build out their business, and ultimately commercialise and monetise themselves,” explains Bailie.

While he was unable to divulge local user and creator numbers, he points out the company has been accelerating its existing programmes for creators. These include the TikTok Creator Fund, which supports content creators in taking their businesses to the next level, and TikTok's Creator Marketing Solutions, which help creators make video content.

According to Business of Apps, TikTok has over 1.677 billion users globally, of which 1.1 billion are monthly active users, as of 2023.

The video app initially launched as a lip-syncing and dancing short-form video-sharing platform for teens, and has grown into a fully-fledged video service, with all types of content for all ages.

TikTok Sub-Saharan Africa’s Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda and Greg Bailie.
TikTok Sub-Saharan Africa’s Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda and Greg Bailie.

The South African Social Media Landscape 2023 study, conducted by brand intelligence consultancy Ornico and market research firm World Wide Worx, notes TikTok South Africa’s growth has seen it leap past Instagram, to become the second-biggest social media platform locally.

With a penetration rate of 30.6%, the platform is quickly creeping behind Facebook, which claims 56.7% penetration of South Africans aged 15 and over, who are active on social media.

Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, government relations and public policy director at TikTok Sub-Saharan Africa, tells ITWeb that among the key factors contributing to TikTok’s growth is its ability to offer users a platform to democratise content and ultimately turn uses into “prosumers” – a consumer who also becomes involved with creating the content.

“Our following is growing; globally we've hit more than one billion users and counting. This is a testament that we are giving our users and businesses the platform they need, whether it’s for entertainment purposes or to meet their business objectives.

“The other key thing is authenticity – most of ourcreators are just being themselves on TikTok. They don't need to always appearfancy; they are just being authentic about their daily lives and many peoplerelate to that. Creativity also plays an important role – South Africa is avery creative country,”Mgwili-Sibanda.

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