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The Era of TikTok, SnackVideo, Bigo Live

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Who knew TikTok, SnackVideo, and Bigo Live could become so big that governments would feel the need to intervene, monitor, and police these technology giants through reforms. 

We witnessed in recent times the banning of Chinese apps like TikTok, PUBG, in Pakistan and the same including 177 other apps in India. 

An absence of state monitoring on such technology platforms resulted in no penalty or punishment in case of misconduct or foul play by the users – which is slowly beginning to change. 

Such apps are constantly being consumed by the masses – while most folks like to just watch and appreciate the content on these apps; many have realized the opportunity at hand by creating the said content instead. This trend has seen prominence especially after the fact that many teenagers have started earning huge sums of money through these platforms, making this a permanent career choice.

What most don’t realise is that making money from these apps is not as simple as the founders of these apps would claim – which is clearly evident from the kind of content that appears prominently on most of these platforms – vulgar, clickbaity and meaningless. It is true that the big money-making content is often much more well thought out and often cleaner – in terms of quantity and showcasing of the content, these platforms have become synonymous with indecency.

Let us begin to unravel the mystery behind what these apps have to offer:   

TikTok – The Short Content King

An app that beat Facebook and Instagram in terms of the hype it created in east-Asia and southeast Asia – empowering users to create 15-second entertainment-packed videos and further add their flavour of creativity through filters, stickers, video speed controls and augmented reality animations. 

Users can use features available on the app to string clips together and make up to 60 seconds video stories. The main utility lies in the creation and sharing of short videos. 

The feed of the application is simple and clean allowing you to navigate through videos by simply scrolling up and down

Owned by a China-based company engaged in the domain of machine learning technology – TikTok was termed as one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, with 500 million active users worldwide in 2019 as also stated in Forbes.

A user can only go live through their account if he/she has at least 1,000 followers. 

Once reached this follower base the app allows you to go live as well as live-stream using their phone.

TikTok gives the user an enormous range of music, popular song clippings and moments from TV shows, YouTube videos to add to their short videos.

But where does the machine learning aspect come from? The “For You” section that appears on the homepage is not basically a feed displaying content posted by a users contact list but actually, an algorithmic feed based on videos he/she watched, engaged or interacted with. 

TikTok has also done well business-wise with its parent company – ByteDance valued at over $100 billion in 2020. 

The story goes back to when TikTok was merged with Musical.ly, an app that supported the same content that revolved around lip-syncing and dancing.

TikTok with its large user base soon found the opportunity and began rolling out advertisements on its platform growing its revenue to over 300% in 2019 (source: TechCrunch) in comparison to the previous year.

Similar to 10-15 seconds ads found on youtube videos that can be skipped within 4-5 seconds, as the advertisers pay for impressions, Tiktok has three types of ads available:

  • Brand Takeover Ads: Short five-second static or animated ads that appear as the user opens the app
  • In-Feed Native Video Ads: Full-screen video ads that appear between videos
  • Branded Hashtag Challenges: Hashtag campaigns are created and generated by brands or businesses

As we’ve just mentioned some brands and businesses adopting TikTok for its promotion campaign it should be wise of us to mention that brands like NBA have been early adopters of the app with more than 12 Million followers, fast food giants like Chiptole with 1.6 million followers and media companies like The Washington Post and NBC are also officially on the TikTok.

But can users make money on TikTok? Yes, this development has been fairly recent and only users with more than 10,000 followers can join this specific program. Apart from this users can always cross-share their content on their monetized channels on Youtube or pages on Instagram and generate an income online. 

SnackVideo – The New Player

SnackVideo is also a free mobile application much like TikTok – where users create, share and watch short-form video content.

Users can begin their Snack journey by simply setting up their SnackVideo account and start posting content, viewing videos published by other users on the app and even search for videos of their choosing. 

As of the current indicators on Google play store, the app has exceeded 100 million downloads and has a 4.5 rating.  

With a familiar interface of TikTok – SnackVideo provides users with tools to add lip-syncing, music, and much more. The app supports several sections or pages within the app such as Explore Video, Trending page, Following tab, all provided to enhance the user experience.  

Now for the most interesting detail, a question that many of you must have witnessed popping up on Youtube ads – “How does a user earn money through SnackVideo?”

Like TikTok protocols, SnackVideo only enables users with at least 1000 users to benefit from the earning features of the app and can be done in multiple ways: (mind you that the current Snack exchange rate is 50 coins for 0.01 PKR)  

The first is known as Affiliate Marketing – in simple words a process through which a user leverages their large follower base to promote a product or service and in return earns a commission or segment of the profit from each sale they help generate.

In much simpler words, users publish promotional content of a product or a service along with affiliate links. 

Does this process actually help companies and brands generate more sales and hence revenue?  

To be honest, any affiliate marketing strategy may or may not work, but there are ways of making this process effective to boost sales revenue and  help reach the target audience

SnackVideo also allows a user to earn money by inviting friends and family on the app. 

The Setting icon featured on the map will take the user to the option “Play & Earn” – and turning this feature on will enable them to start inviting their friends and family on the app. 

Once someone registers, the user receives a certain number of coins that are converted into rupees which can be transferred to their easy paisa or jazz cash account. 

SnackVideo also features a video contest format through which users can participate in video contests and win prizes ranging anywhere from a T-shirt to an Apple iPhone.  

Bigo Live – Broadcasting Behemoth

Now let’s move to the other side of the spectrum – Live Broadcasting Content. Since TikTok’s live features are banned in Pakistan, Bigo Live is the next in line king for this service. It’s free to use, lets users make creative and entertaining videos and live broadcasting activities such as games with friends and strangers alike. Also another type of feature that is recently becoming famous in the western audio streaming app clubhouse; audio room broadcasting has always been available first and foremost on Bigo Live.

A Singapore-based app that can also be termed as a blend of Snapchat and periscope – allowing users to create and post short videos and the ability to live broadcast videos that will be removed as soon as the session ends.

The live-broadcasting platform enables users to showcase their skills and talent to a broad network of users and gain influence.

The app has a 4.4 rating and downloads exceeding 100 million on Google Play Store. The app had achieved an active user base surpassing 330 million globally back in November 2019.

So here’s how Bigo Live works!!! The broader the network list of the user the more chances to earn using the app – meaning more followers = more earning. 

The user base comprises mainly teens and above audiences ranging from college students to aspiring performing artists, gaming fanatics etc. Live Broadcasters also receive live comments from other users, and can thus search for nearby users.

Followers during video broadcast sessions share virtual gifts that can be transformed into beans – the hard currency Bigo Live uses for payments. 

The more following a broadcaster has, the more beans they earn by hosting bigger events and competitions with other broadcasters called PK (Player Killing). These beans can be exchanged for currency or real money and can be transferred to a Payoneer account but in order to do that, you should have at least 6,700 beans. 

Bigo Live allows for more interactions with strangers, and interacting with a lot of various streams of content can bring the app’s AI system to expose the user to some user-generated content that could be deemed indecent in nature.


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Why Choose SnackVideo and Bigo Live?

It is clear that short-form content and live broadcasting is here to stay. Even though apps like TikTok, Likee, Bigo Live and SnackVideo may seem similar on the surface level, clearly TikTok is currently leading in terms of popularity. Still, many people are turning to other apps besides TikTok due to the missing payment structure on the platform. Apps like SnackVideo, Bigo Live and Likee have started the trend of directly paying their influencers after they meet certain criteria (not to be confused with ad revenue, think of it as a monthly salary), this is fairly new for Pakistan as no current social media content platform pays off this well. Besides this, people can directly donate to their favourite influencer, which is also another feature not present in the Pakistani version of TikTok currently. Unsurprisingly so, the influencers on these apps want to make the content that gets the most attraction; that content can often be referred to as not family friendly – however, this is also changing.

How will Bigo Live and SnackVideo beat TikTok?

Bigo Live charges more than 60% on each financial transaction made on the platform; this sounds like a lot and it is! The main source of income for apps like Bigo Live, Likee and SnackVideo right now is the cut from donations they receive. This strategy however is not consistent in the long run. Taking TikTok as an example, the app that has ads on its platforms paid for by big corpos is the perfect example of a free app making money off of content. The problem is that currently the image of apps like Bigo Live has been ruined by the type of content it’s known for; which now being a bit too late, they are trying to work on. Pakistani cricketers such as Umer Akmal, Fawad Alam have recently joined the App to bring more mainstream appeal to its content. Other actions like hosting live ‘shows’ that depict the regular tv talk shows are being scheduled with famous celebrities and lastly big paid ads placed on prominent architectures like the Centaurus Mall in Islamabad. All these steps are taking place to revamp the image of Bigo Live. It no longer wants to be an app that is full of indecent content, but an app that should be revered because of its technological prowess enabling millions to broadcast from any smartphone (premium or cheap). No really, technically speaking Bigo Live is a masterpiece, streaming or broadcasting used to require hardware worth thousands of rupees and now anyone with a 20,000 PKR smartphone can go live with one click. 

Talking about the other culprit, SnackVideo is focusing on the short-form content industry. Since it is new right now relatively speaking, its main focus is also on content that isn’t deemed corporate-friendly. SnackVideo is also paying heavily to place ads everywhere the human eye can see which is facing a lot of backlash from users tired of such apps. SnackVideo seems to be following in the steps of Bigo Live and the rumour has it that the company is poaching many of the current employees at Bigo Live (headquartered in Islamabad). History will repeat itself but eventually, it too will have to clean up the act in order to join the big boys TikTok and Bigo Live.

At the end of it all, as tech enthusiasts, we do appreciate the fact that there are much more opportunities for people to earn money. People who actually put their heart and soul into good content should be appreciated and compensated appropriately. It is true that as it stands, these apps have a bad image in the broader audience, but constant steps are being taken to make them more family-friendly. Government should keep a close eye on these platforms and make sure that regulatory efforts are being made to keep the platforms safe. Banning technology is never a good option but letting it run free can cause unseen harm.


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