Rising video app TikTok has announced a new $250 million donation to assist frontline workers combating COVID-19, which comes in addition to the app's $10 million donation to the World Health Organization, which it announced last month.
As per TikTok:
"We are committed to playing our part in that global outpouring of mutual support and giving. We want to magnify all we are seeing across our community and translate it into concrete relief for those most affected by this crisis."
TikTok's latest donation will be split into several elements:
- $150 million in funding will go towards medical staffing, supplies and hardship relief for health care workers
- $40 million in cash will be allocated to local organizations which serve diverse user communities, including musicians, artists, nurses and educators
- TikTok will also match up to $10 million in donations from its user community to support initiatives launched by TikTok users
- And an additional $50 million will go towards grants for educators, professional experts, and nonprofits that are working to provide distance learning resources during the global lockdowns
In addition to this, TikTok will also provide $100 million in ad credits to help businesses get back on their feet once they're able to resume normal activity, while it's also allocating $25 million in "prominent in-feed ad space" to NGOs, trusted health sources, and local authorities to help them distribute key health messages in the app.
In total, the funding takes TikTok's commitment to more than $385 million to assist with the COVID-19 outbreak. That seems like a lot, especially for a platform that's not yet generating significant income - though TikTok's parent company ByteDance, and sister app 'Douyin', are generating significant revenue, enabling it to make these funding pledges.
ByteDance reportedly brought in $20 billion in revenue in 2019, while Douyin, the Chinese-only version of TikTok, generated some $122 million in revenue for the year, largely fueled by eCommerce integrations within the app.
That's likely where TikTok will also be heading with its own monetization tools. Thus far, no app has been able to successfully monetize short-form video, as the time limits make disruptive ads non-viable, meaning that they require a different approach to regular video content.
TikTok, which reportedly generated around $36 million in revenue in the US last year, has already started moving towards eCommerce tools within the app. It's testing product links in clips, and external linking options, in order to provide more revenue generation options for creators. TikTok also recently shared this video in regards to its monetization focus, which highlights eCommerce integration.
TikTok's seen a big jump in usage amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, and its charitable donations will help to amplify its outreach efforts, while also providing support for relevant communities. The next stage, however, is for TikTok to maximize the attention it's getting by integrating revenue-generation tools for creators - because if it doesn't, those popular users will quickly learn that they can make more money on other platforms, and abandon TikTok, leaving it to the same fate as Vine before it.
Strategy aside, TikTok's donations are significant, and will provide assistance to many in need, and the platform should be praised for taking positive action. They're also helping to solidify TikTok's place within the wider social media landscape - and if TikTok can improve its brand reputation, and deliver better monetization tools, it'll be on the way to making itself a more important consideration moving forward.