Can my children make money with TikTok

How young influencers in Germany earn money with Tiktok

Matthis Kattnig

YouTube was founded in 2005. Back then, it took hours to upload a short video to a server. Nevertheless, with the start of the video platform, a new kind of celebrity was soon born: video stars, also known as influencers.

Today you can upload a video to Tiktok in a few seconds and reach a lot of people with it. The Tiktok social media app was the fourth most downloaded app in the world last year and is currently available in 150 countries and 75 languages.

The app is also successful in Germany and there are now a good number of so-called Tiktok creators and influencers. Tiktok is the next big app after Instagram and Snapchat, where advertisers can also reach young people. The app itself essentially consists of upright videos between 15 seconds and a minute. The predecessor of Tiktok is an app called Musical.ly. Musical.ly was best known for lip-sync, short videos sung synchronously.

The app was bought by the Chinese company ByteDance, headquartered in Beijing, in November 2017 and renamed Tiktok in August 2018. ByteDance is the most valuable start-up in the world and is ahead of Airbnb and SpaceX with a market value of 75 billion US dollars. Tiktok is called Douyin in China and operates a number of more platforms there than in Germany. A news portal is also integrated. ByteDance is currently working on many other projects, especially in the field of artificial intelligence.

It is not officially known how many people use Tiktok in Germany. Tiktok itself does not provide any information either and only points out that the app was the fourth most downloaded in the world in 2018. In addition, there are currently 4.1 million users in Germany circulating on the Internet - how close the estimate really comes to reality remains to be seen.

Tiktok recently opened an office in Berlin and started building a team here. "It is an important step to be really local and close to the market and to offer our users an even better experience - which in turn drives our growth," a spokeswoman for Tiktok told Business Insider. At the moment ByteDance wants to concentrate exclusively on Tiktok in Germany and not on other projects.

These influencers excite millions over Tiktok

Sugar / TikTok

The biggest stars on Musical.ly in Germany, and until recently also on Tiktok, were Lisa and Lena. In March 2019, they deleted their account. One reason: From now on, the two of them want to focus on acting, among other things. A second: “We don't want to support any app that is no longer secure.” But more on that in a moment.

There are already a number of Tiktok stars in Germany. The app recently invited to a Creator Day in Berlin, and for the first time in Europe it was also possible for journalists to take part. There were several Tiktok creators, part of the German Tiktok team and their colleagues from Shanghai and London. Some Tiktok users explained how they are successful on the app and had the opportunity to exchange ideas with other influencers.

Matthis Kattnig

One of the participants was Falco Punch. He has almost six million fans on Tiktok, who come from several countries. He is not only successful in Germany, but above all in the USA and India. 75 percent of his fans are female. It was actually more by chance that the 23-year-old downloaded the Musical.ly app a few years ago. A friend recommended it to him on his 20th birthday. In an interview with Business Insider, Falco Punch explains: “The most important thing for me is: to share inspiration. It is important to me that people are inspired by my videos and then also want to do video production, not only at Tiktok. "

The Tiktok star needs an average of one day for a video. His videos almost always contain music and a lot of special effects. Not all of them can be done in the app, he also creates many on the computer. Every day he also spends at least three to four hours with the app, his strategy is not to allow any breaks in posting.

Matthis Kattnig

Chanydakota is also one of the top influencers. Together with her brother, she also started the Musical.ly app in 2015. Even then, she was one of the four most popular German users on this platform. The now 23-year-old produces her videos according to the following motto: “Don't be better than others, be different. It also makes you extremely happy. No matter what the others say, I am just who I am. ”So, unlike Instagram or Twitter, is authenticity in the foreground at Tiktok? Probably not.

Even a single video by the influencer is very complex and can take a whole day. In her videos she likes to dance in front of the camera, take her fans with her on trips or provide entertainment with short statements.

Caution, addictive!

Unlike other apps, where you have to log in first, you can use Tiktok without an account. Once downloaded, you'll be presented with a series of videos. If you swipe down, the next one comes along. As soon as you have created an account, you can upload videos yourself and follow users. There are then two areas: one where you can see all the videos that Tiktok recommends, and a second where you can find all the videos of the users you are following. The videos in the first area are determined with an artificial intelligence. It selects the videos based on where you have posted your likes and comments and which videos you have watched for how long. The app gets to know you better and better and tries to provide the videos according to your interests.

I uploaded five different videos on a trial basis. The most successful got more than 125,000 views (already several 10,000 after just one day) and the worst less than 100. So whether a video is successful depends very much on how it ranks Tiktok's AI. For example, those who rely on special hashtags or take part in current challenges have a significantly higher chance of reaching more users.

If you sit there and watch one video at a time, it can quickly lead to you not stopping at all. No wonder, because the app shows you one interesting video after the other and what you don't like, you wipe away immediately.

This is how the young influencers earn their money

Matthis Kattnig

If you want to advertise on Tiktok, you have to agree this with the platform. The reason, according to Tiktok, is that the company is very careful about which brands are being advertised. In principle, however, it is possible to make money with Tiktok. "I am currently making more money with Instagram, but experience has also shown that Tiktok can be used to sell brands and rely on product placement," says Falco Punch. Chanydakota was also able to earn money with Tiktok. According to their own statements, both can make a living from their job as influencers, although most of the money is currently not coming from Tiktok, but from other platforms such as Instagram.

Falco Punch's manager Brix Buchbaum also sees a large market for the future: “It is interesting for companies that want a target group in the range of eight to 18, here you can still get the kids. They're not in print, they're not on television. That's why companies like Lego or Marvel are currently discovering the app. ”In the past, his agency was able to implement projects with music companies and the game manufacturer UBI-Soft on Tiktok, among other things.

Tiktok started collaborations in Germany a few weeks ago. One focus here is on football clubs. It cooperates with, among others, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. The clubs now have their own Tiktok accounts that you can follow. You work directly with Tiktok.

The platform has recently started showing advertisements, but according to the company, these are only tests at the moment. The app also has a live stream function where fans can also send extras in the form of so-called “gift coins” to their creators. These can be purchased in advance.

Privacy advocates repeatedly expressed concerns

Privacy advocates have raised concerns about the Tiktok app in the past because it is a Chinese network. Commenting on the allegations, Tiktok told Business Insider, “It is our number one priority that our users have a safe and positive experience on our app. We have a number of measures to protect our users. For example, our users can set their accounts as “private” ”(similar to Instagram).

According to the data protection and terms of use, Tiktok not only analyzes the data within the app, but also accesses data outside the app, for example the browser history. In addition, with the use of the app, Tiktok is allowed to pass on all data and videos to third parties, for example potential advertising customers. Tiktok also has the right to access messages, phone contacts and location. You should be aware of this when using the app. Videos uploaded in Germany are stored on servers in the US and Singapore. The company is unlikely to have taken this measure to dispel data protection concerns among Europeans, but above all to avoid Chinese censorship, reports the "Handelsblatt".

Tiktok is approved for ages 13 and up. The consent of a parent or legal guardian is required below the age limit of 18 years. After all, parents have the option of restricting their children's Tiktok consumption with child protection filters and time limits. Parents can, for example, set a password to be entered after the app has been used for more than an hour before the young person can continue to use the app.

So Tiktok is working hard to address privacy concerns. Nevertheless, the fact that it is a Chinese network unsettles some users.

When influencers Lisa and Lena deleted their Tiktok accounts, they wrote in an Instagram post as a reason: “We don't want to support an app that is no longer secure.” Influencer Falco Punch is more relaxed about it: “I don't do one Worry, as data is transmitted on every platform and it's almost normal. I agree and have no problem with it. ”Influencer Chanydakota also has no concerns.

Tiktok emphasizes that inappropriate content has no business being on the platform: “We continue to work with technologies that automatically filter suspicious content. There is also a team of moderators who manually view content 24 hours a day, remove inappropriate content and delete user accounts that violate our terms of use. We also block inappropriate content immediately. "

Internationally, Tiktok made negative headlines several times. In India, Tiktok was partially blocked in early April 2019. The court ruling mentioned the dissemination of pornographic content. The lock was lifted a few weeks later. In February, Tiktok went to court in the United States and was fined $ 5.7 million by the FTC. The reason for this was data protection violations at Musical.ly (now Tiktok) among under-13-year-olds. Tiktok accepted the sentence and deleted the data afterwards.

Why Tiktok is conquering the German market

Many young people dream of a career as an influencer. However, there are already countless celebrities on platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Tiktok offers completely different possibilities because the platform is very new and if you post the right content with the right hashtags at the right time, you can reach a lot of young people very quickly. Much easier and faster than with other platforms.

Music by famous artists can also be used here. A filter on YouTube would block them immediately. According to Tiktok, an agreement has been reached with the respective musicians: "We are working closely with the rights holders to build and protect a music library on the platform and make it available to users for their own short videos."

The app can be very useful for getting inspiration and connecting with people all over the world. Nevertheless, every user must be aware that a lot of data is being disclosed.

A look at the current growth of the app leads one to speculate that Tiktok will play a major role worldwide in the future, albeit almost exclusively for Generation Z.