Ujaya Shakya
Nov 16, 2023

A marketer's take on TikTok's exit from Nepal

The ability to reach a massive audience via TikTok has been an indispensable tool for brands in Nepal. But with the app's impending exit from the country, there's now a profitable opportunity for domestic players to step up and fill the gap, opines Ujaya Shakya.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Over the past few years, TikTok has witnessed a huge rise in Nepal, attracting users from all walks of life. The platform has started to become a stage for ordinary people to showcase their extraordinary talents. TikTok, to a certain extent, has been a catalyst for change—a stage for talent n a marketplace for businesses. One shining example is the Twinny girls, Princy and Prisma, who have amassed 7.7 million followers and over 112 million views for their content. Their success highlights that TikTok stardom is not limited to mainstream celebrities, as they have even been utilised by both global brands to endorse their campaigns.

This short-form video platform has not just gained popularity, but has become a dynamic space for creators, influencers and businesses to thrive. With its unique format and user-friendly interface, TikTok has given rise to a wave of creative expression, fostering a community that celebrates talent and diversity. The recent viral success of the Newari song "Aila Luwaya" further emphasises the platform's influence. In last 3 weeks, with nearly 50,000 renditions by users and content creators, TikTok has proven its ability to propel local content to unprecedented heights. The platform has demonstrated its power to drive local content, with a growing trend in Nepal where new songs, music and even content from independent artists and Nepali movies are initially launched on TikTok to gain fame.

Recognising the platform's immense popularity, brands in Nepal have embraced TikTok as a crucial component of their integrated marketing strategies. The ability to reach a massive audience, particularly through influencers, has made TikTok an indispensable tool for marketers. The Twinny girls and other influencers with over 5 million followers have become key players in promoting product and services, creating a direct link between brands and their target demographic. Giving rise to a diverse ecosystem of influencers, ranging from Mega to Nano influencers. What sets TikTok apart is the prominence of non-celebrity influencers—everyday people who have become household names through their creative expressions. Unlike other platforms where mainstream celebrities dominate, TikTok's influencer hierarchy reflects the democratisation of fame. Micro and Nano influencers, particularly those serving niche markets like tech products and automobiles, have emerged as key opinion leaders (KOLs). These influencers have dedicated last few years to cultivating a loyal following, showcasing the depth and diversity of talent present on the platform. It’s unfortunate that they might need to start over on a new platform, which is time-consuming process and does not guarantee the same level of success again.

As marketers, we have noted that TikTok excels in user-generated content (UGC), consistently outperforming other platforms. The ease with which users can create engaging content has made TikTok a go-to platform for driving audience engagement.

I feel, one of TikTok's most significant contributions to Nepali society is its role in empowering individuals, especially women and housewives. It provides a platform for them to confidently showcase their talents and stories, promoting creative expression. In a society where, traditional norms might have limited self-expression, TikTok has acted as a catalyst for that change helping them to challenge the status quo and discover their potential.

Small businesses, especially in the fashion and lifestyle sectors, have leveraged TikTok to drive traffic and transform into social media entrepreneurs. The app has enabled them to reach new customers, showcasing their product and services and build their brand identity.

As TikTok may leave Nepal, it opens an opportunity for domestic innovators to create their own platform. It’s time for the tech and creative communities to create an indigenous platform. With a proven market demand and a benchmark set by TikTok, the time is ripe to step forward and build a similar platform. This invites the creation of something uniquely Nepali yet globally appreciated, continuing the legacy of fostering creativity, expression and empowerment.

Mr. Ujaya Shakya is founder of Outreach Nepal and author of Brandsutra.

Campaign Asia

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