Updated: Mar 25
TikTok, known in China as Douyin, is a video-sharing social networking service owned by Chinese company ByteDance. The social media platform is used to make a variety of short-form videos, from genres like dance, comedy, and education, that have a duration from fifteen seconds to one minute.
Although it’s only been a little over a year of having to aggressively explore creating online content, we are now faced with an unprecedented time in history where a large majority of our lives are online.
In early 2019, prior to any knowledge of the looming epidemic impact that a virus would have on the world, HR bloggers wrote that 25% of our lives were spent online.
A year into the pandemic and some time after NBC journalists confirmed that “The coronavirus pandemic drove life online. It may never return.”
Life is Virtual
It is clear to see that everything that passes for normal life now occurs almost entirely online.
While this seemed like an amazing during the first few months of the shutdown with online entertainment options soaring, the ability to stay home encouraged safety and helped slow the spread on the covid-19 virus was encouraged, and encouraging. Thirteen months later, consumers are beginning to feel disenchanted with the overabundance of content and both content consumers and content producers are beginning to feel the "Tik Tok" Burnout.
It is important to note that for the purposes of this article, we are placing all the various social networking and content sites under one categorization "Tik Tok"- but social media is not limited to that medium only and in 2021, there are over 15 viable social media sites with Tik Tok actually ranking as eighth on the list.
From Facebook to Instagram to Youtube to Snapchat, after what feels like decades of Silhouette-like challenges, many Insta-models and social media influencers are wondering if there is anything left of the internet’s videos to attempt at home without being lost among the millions of various versions by other influencers and producers.
With life now being virtual, juxtaposed with the social pressures to go ‘viral’, many are feeling what I call the ‘tik-tok-burnout’
Tik Tok Burnout
These were the sentiments echoed by many of the local micro-influencers who feel like they have run out of uploadable content for their social media channels, and are crying out for new opportunities for inspiration.
Speaking to creators across various platforms, the complaint is that as the government’s shutdowns due to Covid-19 are extended, and many times drastically, those who consider themselves creatives are feeling a sense of uncertainty regarding when, and if ever, they would be able to gather proper content.
Those who operate primarily on the social platforms are also finding it difficult to maintain a consistent programming schedule which is integral in retaining one’s following.
The question then becomes- in this current climate and given the political structure of our little island with a limited subscriber base who have access to content on a global level, how does one not only maintain relevance, but also inspire fans to follow, like, and share?
While you can do a quick google search and compile various lists from various social media personalities who’ve successfully maintained a strong stake in the space, one must question- would any of that work in Barbados?
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In-Person Connections are KEY to going Viral!
If a photographer is unable to connect with a subject, in person, it is difficult to produce a quality piece of work, sufficient enough to be competitive within an already difficult industry. Many photographers’ whose main source of income happens to be event-based have mentioned that they’ve exhausted all the #throwbacktuesday, Thursday, and #flashbackfriday posts, and are now recycling work they’ve already posted last year on Sunday and Wednesday.
Without the opportunity to create, they fear that their followers will migrate to other international influencers who have the opportunity to produce due to their governments’ less restrictive pandemic-dealing measures.
In a world where your follower count matters, the difference between 9,999 and 10K could literally mean the difference between whether you are seen as a hobbyist or a legitimate social media personality causing many to lose home on ever achieving instafame.
Instagram Models and Tik Tokkers ARE Essential!
In trying to understand a bit more about the plight of the insta-models in this space, I spoke to Tiffany X. Tiffany offered insight into her industry, expressed frustration that she hasn’t been offered the opportunity to secure an essential-workers pass. She said that she views what she does as life-saving because, without her viral videos, many people would simply not be encouraged to remain at home. She went on to say that her followers depended on her work for entertainment, and boredom would drive many to risk catching covid-19, or worse… arrest, by seeking excitement outside the house.
“If a model and a photographer are adhering to the rules of 6 feet apart, I don’t understand why we can’t continue to work. Doctors and Bakeries are allowed to operate. It’s not like if I’m doing an extreme closeup of my face anyway, most of my shots are bikini photos and lingerie collaborations.”
In light of the changing times, Daniella, a dancer, has decided to apply for UWI Open Campus, and is changing careers for something “more secure.”
It’s really difficult as a performer these days, she said, “most of my work has been virtual since I started, but due to everyone being home, everyone is working online so my pages have lost traffic due to the influx of other performers who may not have worked online before. Due to the natural laws of supply and demand, all the online dance classes have now had to lower their prices.”
“Alternatively,” she said “I’ll probably start an OnlyFans account and go into the online adult industry, but some of my friends are having a hard time withdrawing their money from their accounts so that’s a whole new stress I’ll have to worry about.”
OnlyFans, a way out?
Although OnlyFans as a network has been around for four years, 2020, global shutdowns, and work and play all going virtual has seen a rise in both users and content producers and Barbados is no different.
OnlyFans is a social networking site which allows producers to upload unfiltered premium content to the platform, and charge users to access this content.
According to The Guardian- Use of OnlyFans exploded during the pandemic, going from 7.5 million users last November to 85 million now.
In addition, an OnlyFans spokesperson went on record to say that out of 85 million registered users, and it paid out more than US$2bn ($2.7bn) globally this year.
With numbers like those many are now asking, could OnlyFans be a way out for Bajan content creators?
What can be Done to Help?
Clearly, we live in a digital age.
One thing that 2020 has taught us is that there was an existential paradigm shift and now the whole world is struggling to adjust to what was coined as ‘The New Normal’.
If we’re really honest with ourselves, ‘online life’ is probably more real life and what used to be ‘real life’ cannot be trusted or relied upon.
If your job cannot be done online, you have no guarantees moving forward into this decade.
To insulate your life from extinction you must go online otherwise you will fade away into the abyss of mediocrity and ultimately death.
With that said, it is imperative for governments to subsidize social media influencers so that they can continue to contribute to the economy. In addition, more emphasis within this administration should be placed on educating the youth on the opportunities that exist digitally.
Grants and funding should be generously allocated to fund projects that encourage online consumption if these projects are to be taken seriously on the international market. We must keep in mind that while it is exciting to say that we’re producing online work, once that work hits the web the international standards have to measure up to the likes of Hollywood or Bollywood produced work in order to compete. These things aren’t done with $5000.00 budgets, respectfully.
Let’s Fish, for now!
Finally, as the old adage goes, “give a man a fish, you feed him for an afternoon, teach a man to fish, you feed him until his appetite changes.”
As mankind evolves, at an ever-increasing rate, our interests in what we’re willing to consume changes faster and faster. Today, it’s Tik Tok and Instagram but tomorrow what will it be? Systems must be put in place to ensure that our creatives are ahead of the curve.
Perhaps teaching social media at schools and how to monetize creativity might be a valid option in this regard.
In that respect, here’s some food for thought- why not invest more heavily in coding and inspire a local smallie to really create a Bajan tech product that can be coveted around the world?
If you are seeking available opportunities and support, submissions for residency are open.
On a rolling basis, Barbados Connect offers emerging entrepreneurs and creatives a residency opportunity to connect with our community with our support and sponsorship. Sponsorship and residency covers a variety benefits highlighted below, but the key to winning a sponsorship is to be an emerging brand, personality, creative or other person or entity with a product or service that can offer value to the community.