TikTok, the time-sink app slowly destroying your kid’s long-term concentration ability, has decided to turn its disruption skills onto the workforce. Specifically, that section of the workforce that might have handled public relations for a brand. Best of all (for the brand), it won’t cost much at all. Relatively speaking.
The app has done this by unveiling what it calls the TikTok Creative Challenge. It’s framed as “a new in-app feature that allows creators to submit video ads to brand challenges and receive rewards based on video performance”. In reality, it’s one of the scummier corporate practices rebranded for a younger audience.
The process for participating in the Creative Challenge (because it’s not work if it’s a “challenge”) involves a few terms and conditions. It’s confined to the US for now, as well as accounts handled by those over 18 years of age. Finally, those accounts need to have 50,000 followers or more. You’ll notice that these are all similar conditions to full-time employment — geographical compatibility, experience, and being of working age.
Participants are tasked with a challenge from specific brands on the platform. This is what is usually called a brief — TikTok mentions as much in its announcement — for creating a specific product like a video advertisement. Instead of guaranteed compensation, there’s a reward pool for those submitting their ideas. Rewards (read: money) depend on “…qualified video views, clicks, and conversions.” Oh, and those ideas are subject to corporate revision if the brands decide they’d like something changed before accepting the videos for monetisation.
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It’s just like a regular job in marketing, only with the amplification of those all-important ingredients to the creative process: competition and financial insecurity. Of course, those last two things only apply to the creators submitting their ideas. With no idea whether the hours put in will be rewarded (and if they are, with how much cash). Companies that start ‘challenges’, on the other hand, get up to 30 video ads to choose from to promote their brands in ten days. The system “…helps take the work out of performance advertising by seamlessly connecting brands with top-tier performance-driven creator content.” How very late-stage capitalist, TikTok.
Still, if you must participate (you can’t as you’re South African, but if you could), there’s also “…a dedicated Creator Community group and Mentor Program to connect with other creators to share knowledge, exchange insights and get rewarded” for those who are entered into the program. Which is nice. It’s like a support group for people who aren’t sure if they’ll be paid for their work or not.