Indian Influencers Struggle to Replicate TikTok Success on YouTube and Instagram Years After Ban

Indian influencers struggle to replicate TikTok success on YouTube and Instagram after India's ban, highlighting the dominance of US platforms even without TikTok.

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Salman Akhtar
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Indian Influencers Struggle to Replicate TikTok Success on YouTube and Instagram Years After Ban

Indian Influencers Struggle to Replicate TikTok Success on YouTube and Instagram Years After Ban

Nearly four years after India banned the Chinese-owned short video app TikTok following a deadly border clash with China, Indian influencers are still struggling to replicate their success on alternative platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Choreographer Sahil Kumar, who found fame showcasing folk dances on TikTok and had over 1.5 million followers, has been inactive on the platform since posting a video in June 2020 supporting India's decision to ban it.

The TikTok ban in India led to a wave of nationalist fervor and a scramble by local tech startups to launch copycat apps. However, it was the established US platforms like Instagram and YouTube that gained the most. Instagram saw a surge in short-form video content from India, with 6 million short videos posted daily compared to 2.5 million on local platforms.

Despite this growth, some influencers like Kumar have found it difficult to match the success they had on TikTok. Kumar's Instagram following is a tiny fraction of his TikTok audience, with just under 94,000 followers. The differences in the content and engagement models between TikTok and its rivals have made it challenging for influencers to transition successfully.

Why this matters: The situation in India offers a glimpse of what the social media landscape could look like in the United States if a similar move to block local access to TikTok goes ahead. The challenges faced by Indian influencers in adapting to alternative platforms highlight the dominance of established US-based platforms like Instagram and YouTube, even in the absence of TikTok.

TikTok's algorithm and endless-scroll interface were well-suited for boosting niche content creators, but its rivals require a different formula for success that focuses on displaying more personality. As Kumar noted in a recent interview, "TikTok had a special algorithm that made videos go viral if they were good, irrespective of who was posting. That is not the case on the other platforms."

Key Takeaways

  • India banned TikTok in 2020, leading Indian influencers to struggle on alternative platforms.
  • Instagram and YouTube gained the most from TikTok's ban, with 6M daily short videos posted on Instagram.
  • Influencers like Sahil Kumar failed to match their TikTok success on other platforms due to content and engagement differences.
  • The challenges faced by Indian influencers highlight the dominance of US-based platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
  • TikTok's algorithm boosted niche creators, but rivals require a different formula focused on personality display.