As competition rises for top creators, TikTok is working hard to provide more revenue-generation options, in order to keep its top stars from drifting off to other, more lucrative opportunities.
Along this line, TikTok has this week added a new Cameo-like option called 'Shoutouts' in the app, which enables fans to pay to have platform stars send them a personalized video message.
As you can see in this example, posted by Fabian Ouwehand (and shared by Matt Navarra), with 'Shoutouts', users are able to pay, in TikTok coins, to have their favorite creator send them a personalized message. The creator then has three days to either accept an assigned Shoutout or decline, then a further week to create the clip, which is finally sent to the users' inbox.
What are TikTok coins, you might ask?
TikTok added its own virtual currency last year, which primarily enables users to purchase virtual gifts that can be sent to creators during TikTok live streams.
As TikTok explains, users can purchase bundles of virtual coins in the app:
"Coins can be found in your profile Settings within the “Balance” tab. Select the “Recharge” icon to view the coin denomination options."
So, like Facebook Stars and YouTube's Super Chat options, you exchange real money for on-platform TikTok coins, which you can then use to make donations to your favorite creators, through digital effects and stickers, and now, via Shoutouts as well.
So how much does it cost to get your favorite TikTok-er to make you a custom video?
Well it depends on what they want to charge - based on the above example, at 100,000 TikTok coins, that's around $US1800 at present. Which is pretty steep - but then again, the amount is variable, and some people will probably pay whatever it takes to be 'seen' by their favorite stars.
However, the option is seemingly not widely available as yet. I tried looking for more examples, and it appears that you can only request Shoutouts from certain accounts, in certain regions, via their clips.
As noted, it's another way for TikTok to build a monetization system for its top stars, who right now can make a lot more money on Instagram and YouTube, if they're able to parlay their TikTok fame into longer-form content. That's what happened to Vine, with all of its top creators becoming YouTube millionaires after struggling to convert their short-form video fame into actual dollars.
TikTok knows this, and it knows that it needs to build in more options like this to ensure that it provides for these users, in order to keep them posting.
As such, you can expect to see more of these options rolling out over time.
We've asked TikTok for more info on Shoutouts and will update this post if/when we hear back.