Not on TikTok? This is what you are missing

Diana Atieno, Joshua Kombo, Doreen Moraa.

TikTok users Diana Atieno, Joshua Kombo and Doreen Moraa.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The app has also had its share of controversy back home.
  • Last year, research done by Mozilla Fellow Odanga Madung showed that the app was used to fan political tension in the country.
  • There have also been claims from many Kenyans that the site contains pornographic content, especially late at night. 

When TikTok, a Chinese-owned mobile phone application, was introduced in Kenya in 2016, it was mainly used by young people to share videos.

Over the years, the app has gained popularity globally, especially among the youth. While some consider it a social platform, others have been reluctant to sign up, fearing that the Chinese government could be illegally collecting data, which can then be misused by third parties. This particular concern has seen the use of TikTok get banned in some countries.

The app has also had its share of controversy back home. Last year, research done by Mozilla Fellow Odanga Madung showed that the app was used to fan political tension in the country. There have also been claims from many Kenyans that the site contains pornographic content, especially late at night. 

Despite this, TikTok has continued to attract a huge numbers, and is among the most downloaded apps among Kenya’s youth. We spoke to five TikTokers who are using the app to create a positive impact in the society, while also earning a living.

Photo credit: Pool

Doreen Moraa,30
Maisha Health Digital

Before Tiktok, I was using other social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram, doing what I do best – creating awareness on HIV/AIDS. The reception was not so bad.

My audience kept growing. When Tiktok came, I saw it as yet another opportunity, so I signed up. At first, I had no plan. My goal was to consume the funny videos there. I also wanted to create content, but I did not know how to create or edit the short videos.

Slowly, I started learning from friends who were already on platform and creating my own content. Now, I have 162,000 followers.

Content creation was something I was already doing on YouTube and other platforms, but I found that on TikTok I could engage better with more young people, who are my target audience.

My content specialises in HIV education. I speak on HIV stigma, adherence to medicine, prevention and awareness. My goal is to normalise the conversation on this viral disease, to encourage people to speak about their fears and challenges, and to offer advice on what could be done to reduce infection rates.

One of my major achievements is that I have created a community that trusts me, relies on me for information and above all, they learn that people living with HIV aren’t from Mars, they are ordinary people.

I like the fact that TikTok is easy and fun to use. Instead of recording a 15-minute video trying to explain myself to viewers, the platform allows me to do a 30-second video, and I can incorporate text and images.

One of my major challenges, however, is that some content creators misinform their audience by basing their discussions on myths. That is quite disappointing. Being a social media platform, I sometimes receive negative comments from viewers, as is expected. For this, I have cultivated a habit of using the block button as often as I need.

I hope that one day, we will have more content creators giving correct information on health related topics. This will require those involved to read widely.

Health is a very sensitive topic. One slight mistake and all the information gets distorted, meaning you have to start the discussion all over again.

One misconception about the app is that it spreads misinformation, but that is not the case. Through it I have learnt a lot. It all depends on who you follow. And it is not always about the dancing challenges, there is a lot more you can do on TikTok.

Lastly, does Tiktok pay? Well, yes. I do receive gifts from my followers whenever I go live, but I am yet to receive any money from the platform itself.

Photo credit: Pool

Cosmas Bundi,19
Moi University student
@Cosy Bundi

I have always viewed Tiktok as an app for young people. So many people have signed up, so I am convinced that building an audience there is not a waste of time. In simple terms, I would describe the app as one of my greatest source of income.

I have been on Tiktok since I was in high school. Initially, I was using the platform only for entertainment purposes, until last year in April when I decided to start creating content. Over time, my following has grown to 600,000! This figure is so much bigger than the followers I have on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube combined.

I am a comedian and my content is based on imitations of real life situations. My target audience is fellow Kenyans, especially young people.

My content is inspired by what I see in the media and I have always believed that I can do better. I also wanted to use the platform as a source of income, something I have successfully done.

One of my greatest challenges is consistency in developing content. Coming up with entertaining content every week to keep up with my audience’s demand is quite tiresome.

The other challenge is that I sometimes receive heartbreaking comments. I found these very disturbing at the beginning and kept deleting the comments. Nowadays, I have developed thick skin. I read and keep scrolling.

Although the app does not pay directly, one is always sure of attracting company adverts like betting companies and real estates that pay if you promote their brands.

Photo credit: Pool

Diana Atieno Dingo, 26


I had been struggling with weight loss for quite some time. When I finally succeeded to reduce from 70 to 55, I was excited and wanted to share my journey with others. I joined Tiktok in 2020 and decided to create weight-loss related content. My target audience is everyone who is struggling to shed off extra weight.

Initially, I was active on Facebook and Instagram, but I did not have a specific niche. I used to put up content of myself touring new hotels, or trying out different recipes and clothing. I didn’t have so many followers.

At that time, I was struggling to lose weight, and I was not proud of my body. I had tried exercising but nothing seemed to work.

When I joined TikTok in search of entertaining content, I realised that the urge to create my own content grew stronger with every video I watched. I also realised that weight loss was a common theme for discussion among young people.

In 2021, I successfully managed to trim my weight thanks to proper diet and exercise. Most of my friends were impressed and they kept wondering how I had done it. It is then that I decided to focus my content on weight loss.

So far, I have managed to rope in some 1,800 followers who seem to like my content. I get lots of questions on my inbox, with some sharing their progress, while others just ask random questions on weight loss.

I also often have viewers who come back to say thank you when the information I gave helped them improve in a certain area of their lives. That gives me so much satisfaction. 

My only challenge is that there are individuals who still believe there is a shortcut to weight loss. Such people are hard to convince. I would say TikTok is now my best social media platform, thanks to the very short but informative videos. I also feel more secure using the platform. Not many people send negative comments as they do in other platforms.

I also enjoy the live shows, which provide me with an opportunity to interact with my followers. There are those who also send gifts during the sessions. 

I would advise aspiring TikTokers and those yet to carve out a niche to focus on educational content. Pick one area that interests you, research on it and offer good content. The viewers will come.

Think about the positive side of the app. It has helped some people grow their business, discover and perfect their talents. Do not be scared about the negative comments because they will always come. Good thing is, you are also free to block the sender or filter the comments.

Some say that the app contains a lot of misleading information and is addictive, but I do not think that is the case. You are free to choose the content you want to view wisely.

Photo credit: Pool

Joshua Kombo, 28

@ Mr.Veins The Chef 

I have always had a desire to share my recipes for free with anyone who is interested.

My love for cooking was inspired by my mother who also loves cooking. I always admired her skills and she happened to be my first teacher.

Apart from cooking, I am also a hairdresser and focus on twisting dreadlocks.

A few years ago, I joined a cooking group on Facebook named Lets Cook Kenyan Meals.

There, we would share cooking tips and watch each other grow. That group has helped me perfect my cooking skills.
Fast forward, when I joined Tiktok in 2020, I decided to use the app to share my cooking skills.

At first, my goal was to simply have fun. In 2022, however, I decided to start using my account for business under the name Mr Veins the Chef. So far, I have 2,160 followers.

My content revolves around cooking and baking, and most of my recipes are common foods. The inspiration behind my account is to share cooking knowledge with everyone.

I often share recipes on simple meals that some people find hard to cook. Additionally, through my account, clients can place their orders.

I always get invitations to cook at people’s homes or in private events, thanks to the publicity from TikTok.

I cannot complain. The reception has been positive. My work seems to be of interest to many and I am proud of that.

My major challenge, however, is getting the ingredients for use, the time to record myself while cooking, money to buy data bundles and the equipment I need.

I would recommend the app to those looking forward to nurturing their talents. TikTok contains so many DIY videos.
Many times, I have heard people referring to the app as a place for gossip, idlers and lazy people, but that is not true.
In there are opportunities to market your business, and explore what others are doing.

There are those who will always want to kill your motivation through their negative energy either by sharing their negative comments or discouraging you, but my advice is, keep ignoring them.

Photo credit: Pool

Anthony Macloud, 32

Retired KDF teacher


Before I signed up on TikTok, I was a poultry farmer with an active Facebook, Instagram and Facebook account where I would train my viewers on how to make bird feeds and structures.

The accounts attracted quite a large audience. I would receive up to 500,000 views on a single video.

My focus however shifted to Tiktok eight months ago when I decided to share safety tips to unsuspecting Kenyans due to the growing cases of crime and killings.

I always let people know about dangerous places in the country and expose tricks used by thieves, scammers and pickpockets. This has seen me get threatened and even insulted by those who feel that I am exposing or targeting them.

My other challenge is the negative comments I frequently get from viewers. Blocking the responsible persons might be easy, but they usually end up creating pseudo accounts.

I always take my time to understand whether a negative comment has been intended as a form of criticism, or an insult, then I chose whether to block or just ignore.

I am glad that my viewership has been growing. When I started using the app, I was able to grow my following to 59,000 within two months. Unfortunately, I lost my account to hackers.

I have lost two other accounts when I had built a following of 98,000, and 17,000, but this has not stopped me.
I have grown my two latest accounts to 120,000 and 22,000 viewers within two months.

I enjoy using Tiktok. To me, it is the most vibrant communication tool. The short videos can be easily downloaded and shared to various people and groups, and there is a large audience there.

However, I hope that the app will soon start paying its users. For now, we only depend on funds from advertising clients or companies.

Sometimes, I can receive up to 80 million views but have nothing to show for it, yet some believe that we get paid by TikTok.

We also get gifted by our followers whenever we go live. Unfortunately, the application deducts 50 per cent of the earnings.
My advice to the app’s users is to avoid posting nude pictures or recording indecent videos. Instead, they should use the platform to develop their businesses or careers.


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