TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook: Who's Paying What for Creator Content - dot.LA

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Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake
The prospect of internet fame is no longer enough to bring in the best and brightest. Instead, paying for content has become table stakes for these platforms as they battle one another and compete in the broader attention economy.

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings made that clear in a recent earnings call, when he called YouTube — rather than other streaming services or theater chains — his company’s “second largest direct competitor.”
Within the last two years, at least 10 platforms have announced they’ll be paying creators for their work, but the size of the purse, what type of content they’re funding and how differs by platform.
“These types of funds are what a lot of creators have been waiting forever for, and as soon as one platform starting doing it, the others had to follow suit,” said David Rhodes, a multiplatform content creator with over 10 million followers across his 12 accounts, who has earned a few thousand dollars from Snapchat’s creator fund.
Whether this new funding will be enough to lure talent and sustain quality content remains to be seen, but the financial arms race has been welcomed by many creators.
Here’s a quick look at each:
TikTok has said that within three years, its creator fund will grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. and more than double that globally. Only residents of certain countries are currently eligible, and successful applicants must meet other criteria, including having at least 10,000 authentic followers and receiving 100,000 views in the last 30 days. To apply, users must have a creator account, which is free to make, and submit an application via the app. Payouts are based on video views and engagement, and no caps have been set for outlays per day or to a given user, the company says.
YouTube’s “shorts fund” is a $100 million pool that will be distributed through 2022. Available to creators in India and the U.S., it is an effort to boost YouTube’s presence in the short-form video market via its new “Shorts” product. Phil Ranta, a social media veteran and CEO of Wormhole Labs, said he has seen lots of creators with relatively modest followings earn “bonkers” views via Shorts. YouTube says it will reach out to creators whose Shorts earn the most views and engagement each month, and called the fund “the first step in our journey to build a monetization model for Shorts on YouTube.”
Snapchat is offering $1 million per day to creators on “Spotlight,” a TikTok-like video-broadcasting feature launched late last year that heralded Snap’s departure from an exclusive focus on peer-to-peer messaging. Anyone can submit clips to Spotlight and be eligible for the funding. Payments are distributed based on an algorithm that checks whether a post passes a “value threshold” within seven days. Snap has said factors the algorithm looks for will vary but may include unique views and performance relative to other users’ posts.
Facebook set aside $25 million for a Black creator fund in 2020, available to U.S. residents with at least 10,000 Facebook or Instagram followers. The program launched in August and applications are now closed. Instagram, owned by Facebook, does not have a general creator fund, though its head, Adam Mosseri, has suggested it might create one in the future. Reports have surfaced indicating that Instagram has sought to lure some creators to its platform with lavish payments.
Pinterest has a creator fund that reportedly measures $500,000 and is open for application; participants receive $25,000 in cash and ad credits and participate in a four-week workshop. Clubhouse has indicated it will offer application-based creator grants but has not publicized details, and ran an inaugural creator accelerator program that closed applications in March. Substack offered $25,000 each to four selected writers in 2020 while OnlyFans provided four £20,000 grants to UK-based musicians.
The largest funds are algorithmic and the factors that trigger payouts are a moving target, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be gamed.
“There’s always an exploit,” said Ranta, noting that conversations among creators and agents often include sharing tactics for what seems to be working.
One hack he cited pertains to Snap’s Spotlight fund. Some creators with big followings have found they can post to Spotlight as frequently as every five minutes with simple videos such as blowing a kiss to the camera, and earn money for it, Ranta said.
Accessing the funds can also simply mean posting relentlessly.
“The more content you can push out the better,” said Rhodes. “Although some videos may do well and some won’t, you’re still increasing your chances of videos taking off and earning money.”
Rhodes said it’s key to find “formula,” and “ride it out until it stops working — or until the novelty wears off — and then switch it up and try different things until you find a new formula that works, and ride that one, too.”
Ranta noted that a good way to know what a platform algorithmically prefers is to monitor the company’s press releases and best practices guides.
“You put those two together and you kind of get it,” he said.
Conversations about how to hit the moving target also take place on forums like TubeBuddy, in addition to Reddit and Discord. Proceed with caution, though.
“Those are really hit or miss,” said Ranta, or downright “unfounded gossip.”
Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake
Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA’s Daily Bruin.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is set to become the Philippines’ next president—a victory likely resulting from misinformation spread on TikTok, Business Insider reported ahead of Monday’s election.
Since Marcos Jr.’s father, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was ousted in 1986, BI reported that the family has turned to social media to improve their public image. Marcos Jr.’s campaign paid social media influencers to publicly support him, indicating the role TikTok content played in promoting him as the country’s next leader. TikTok’s lack of transparency regarding how its algorithm spreads content and the amount of misinformation on the app influenced the election, according to BI.
The Chinese video-sharing app headquartered in Culver City officially partnered with the Philippine Commission on Elections to provide reliable information, but BI’s investigation noted that the app’s easy-to-use features helped misinformation run rampant. Pipo Gonzalez, a member of the fact-checking project Tsek.ph, told BI that most misinformation supported Marcos Jr.
Influencers and meme accounts in the Philippines are often paid by political campaigns in exchange for promotion. But Marcos Jr. may be one of the first to follow the new playbook for brands looking to increase their reach without breaking the bank by paying micro-influencers—those with a comparatively small amount of followers—to schill for him. This allows TikTok’s algorithm to be exploited to push out narratives that blur personal views with deliberate misinformation.
JM Lanuz, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of the Philippines, told BI, “Since the influencers have smaller audiences, it’s harder to track. It’s harder to see where this information originated from, how big the reach is.”
One roadblock to identifying misinformation is the many languages spoken in the Philippines, according to Ciaran O’Connor, an analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Moderating content not made in English, O’Connor said, is often a challenge for social media platforms.
“TikTok prohibits election misinformation and works with independent fact-checking organizations who help assess content so that violations of our Community Guidelines can be promptly removed,” a TikTok spokesperson told Insider.
This wouldn’t be the first offensive for TikTok; last month, the nonprofit group Tracking Exposed found that pro-war propaganda spread throughout Russia on the social platform, despite the app’s crackdown of any new content uploaded from inside the country.
Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA’s Daily Bruin.
Yasmin is the host of the “Behind Her Empire” podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.
Each episode covers their unique hero’s journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what’s possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.
From her one-bedroom apartment, Christina Stembel grew her local flower delivery service to a company that delivers nationwide.
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, the founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers discusses growing up in rural Indiana, overseeing a company without investors and finding creative solutions to obstacles.
Stembel’s family wanted her to stay local to their farm, but she said she knew that wasn’t the path for her. She left the farm after high school and eventually found herself working in hospitality in San Francisco. Seeing people in the city manage their own startups inspired her to consider her own business path, and she considered hundreds of ideas before landing on Farmgirl Flowers.

When it launched, the company offered just one daily bouquet. It has since grown to offer up to 40 arrangements at a time.
Stembel had no experience in the floral industry, and she soon discovered how difficult it could be to work with highly perishable products. Everything from heatwaves to shipping issues impacted the flowers, and she had to familiarize herself with potential roadblocks as she placed orders months in advance.
“I think it’s really important especially for women to hear that they don’t have to be the cliche story of, ‘Oh, you’re so lucky you turned your hobby into a business,’” she said. “You can be intentional about wanting to be an entrepreneur and start a business.”
Stembel said she used to regret not going to college; investors often could not see past her lack of a degree. She had to pull from her own savings to fund the company, which is still completely bootstrapped.
Now, she said she values her experience having to foster her own intellectual curiosity and drive outside without the prompting of an academic institution, adding that perspective helped grow both her understanding of her industry and her creative approach to the business.
“I think we need to get out of this mindset that success equals funding,” She said. “It was the most freeing moment that I’ve had since starting Farmgirl.”
Hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast. Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio or wherever you get your podcasts.
dot.LA editorial intern Kristin Snyder contributed to this post.
Yasmin is the host of the “Behind Her Empire” podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.
Each episode covers their unique hero’s journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what’s possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.
Christian Hetrick is dot.LA’s Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.
Netflix’s promised ad-supported tier and crackdown on password sharing could launch by the end of this year, with the streaming giant reportedly accelerating its timeline on the moves after losing subscribers last quarter.
Executives at Netflix told staffers that they aim to introduce a cheaper subscription with ads during the final three months of 2022, according to the New York Times. The company plans to start restricting password sharing around that same time, the report added.
Bringing commercials to Netflix by year’s end would be a much faster timeline than company leaders have previously signaled. On the company’s first-quarter earnings call last month, co-CEO Reed Hastings told investors that advertising was something Netflix was “trying to figure out over the next year or two.”
That itself was a big deal, given Netflix’s long-standing opposition to ads. But the company’s streaming rivals have shown that customers are increasingly willing to sit through commercials if it means paying less per month in subscription fees. While competitors like HBO Max and Paramount Plus continued to grow their customer bases last quarter, Netfllix lost 200,000 subscribers and expects to lose 2 million more in the current quarter.
Netflix has also blamed password sharing for its sluggish growth, estimating that 100 million households may be using accounts without paying for them. (The company has 222 million paying customers globally.) In March, the company started testing extra charges for subscribers to share passwords outside of their households, initially rolling out the changes in Chile, Peru and Costa Rica.
Greg Peters, Netflix’s COO, said during the last month’s earnings call that the company would “go through a year or so of iterating” before deploying a password sharing plan. Now, according to the Times, Netflix wants to roll out the extra charges “in tandem” with the ad-supported tier it aims to launch later this year.
Christian Hetrick is dot.LA’s Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.
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