Those of you who are addicted to TikTok (like myself) have probably noticed how popular the live streams are on your “for you” page. Most of the live streams I’ve encountered are just people sitting in their room doing nothing except reading questions from the comments out loud, and answering them. TikTok users live stream in order to entertain their followers, and they’ve continued this because it does, in fact, grab the attention of their audience members.
What happens next blows my mind: people watching the live streams donate “virtual gifts” to the live streamers.
The gifts are a type of currency on TikTok. They represent a sticker that is shown on screen, along with your username, for the streamer and everyone watching the stream. The gifts must be purchased with coins, which need to be bought with real money, of course. Later on, these gifts can be converted back into real money for the live streamer to claim.
So in other words, people are gifting anywhere from $0.07 to $70 to their content producers with hopes to be recognized by the streamer and potentially get a shoutout.
TikTok got this idea from Twitch, a live streaming platform for gamers. Twitch would give consumers the option to donate money to their favourite gamers as they watched them play video games.
This whole concept seems pretty ludicrous, except it became popular enough for Twitter to begin crafting their own version of user donations in a crowdsourced video system as a new revenue strategy. Kurt Wagner (follow him on Twitter: @KurtWagner8) said, “…it’s become a popular business model for companies hoping to help creators make money from their fans or followers. Twitter would take a cut of the transactions.” And, of course, the companies he is referring to are Twitch and TikTok.
Crowdsourcing does, in fact, have great stories, especially the ones involving GoFundMe. Crowdsourcing for serious causes can sometimes change people’s lives and always work for the greater good. However, when it comes to gifting live streamers with money in order for them to continue streaming, I believe people are putting money in the wrong places.
My opinion may be completely different from yours because this topic is dependent on how engaged each of us are in social media. Do you think user donations on social media platforms are justified? I personally don’t think they are because, from what I’ve seen on my social media, the reasons people are donating are: they find the person attractive, they support the person being open about their sexuality, or they think the person is funny. Almost all streams I come across are of young people sitting in their rooms alone on their phone, and watching people gift them money, instead of donating to some of the causes on GoFundMe, doesn’t sit right with me.