Modern technology gives us many things.

NSDC needs to first understand TikTok platform to successfully engage with its audience for skills promotion

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On the occasion of the World Youth Skills Day 2019, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has partnered with popular social media app TikTok to promote skill development in the country.

NSDC is an arm of the government of India whose mission is to “fulfil the growing need in India for skilled manpower across sectors and narrow the existing gap between the demand and supply of skills.” To that effect, it has partnered with 443 NSDC training partners, 8,503 training centres, 38 sector skills councils and much more. To see a government body partnering with a youth-focused social media network, such as TikTok (which has over 200 million engaged users) is a step in the right direction.

“As part of the collaboration, NSDC (@skillindiaofficial) has joined TikTok to leverage the platform to educate TikTok’s over 200 million users, including first-time Internet users in India about the ongoing government-driven skill development programs and vocational training opportunities in the country through an in-app campaign #Skills4All,” reads the release.

But in its current form, it’s going to be a task to really make it effective.

TikTok logo

At the time of writing, the @skillindiaofficial verified account is Following one account, has 6,694 Followers and 37.1k Hearts. There are four TikTok videos up on the channel at the moment — one by influencer Rannvijay Singha, two which seem to have been extracted from an official government video about the Skill India program (which have been badly edited and force fitted into a vertical video format) and there’s one video with a group of women standing outside the National Skill Training Institute congratulating the four year anniversary of Skill India program (this is a horizontal format video with black bars above and below the video). There is no consistency in the videos uploaded. None of them scream TikTok. Not one video tells me about the vocational training initiatives by the NSDC.

There is a hashtag dedicated to the TikTok community to show off their skills, using #Skills4All. But one visit to this page will give you a good idea of how the hashtag can get easily get lost amid dance-offs, comedy skits and more. The mobile app shows around 242.1 mn views on the hashtag. The first few videos have an ‘Official’ tag going with them and a lot of them are TikTok call-to-action videos by influencers promoting the Skills4All hashtag. Beyond that, it’s a collection of videos from TikTok users, where you have to see for yourself if a particular video is really a ‘skills’ related video.

If NSDC really wants to connect with the TikTok community, it should lead the charge with relevant videos on its own platform. Just having a hashtag and leaving it to the TikTok user to figure out which skills he or she would be interested in, is taking the easy way out. There are more than enough examples online, as to how one can cater content based on the platform being used. The most popular example that comes to mind is the way the Mumbai Police uses Twitter — it understands the platform, it’s funny, makes use of pop-culture references and has dedicated social media cards with a uniform design aesthetic.

Skills4All

NSDC’s TikTok account, on the other hand, looks quite amateur in comparison. I know, it’s early days. But if TikTok and NSDC really want to show that they have a noble aim of reaching out to the 200 million plus youth on the platform and use this platform to promote vocational training initiatives they need to do more. There could have easily been at least a couple of videos encompassing the TikTok ethos and using TikTok’s community references to talk about vocational training, rather than having a vertical cut-out of a promotional video of Skill India. Things which you can only do on TikTok such as Challenges, Duets, Reflections, Slow-mo, using memes, get a lot of traction, making them relatable and inviting the community to participate.

TikTok, as we have come to learn over the last couple of years, is a completely different social media beast. Just using the same content from Twitter, Instagram or YouTube and trying to fit it in TikTok will get you little traction. Also, how does one monitor #Skills4All and ensure that a TikTok user does not waste time searching for skill-relevant content, keeping in line with NSDC’s philosophy.

NSDC’s Gaurav Kapoor has stated, “Through diverse content on TikTok, we aim to excite and educate the youth about the various opportunities in the space of vocational training in India. We believe that by harnessing the potential of short-videos, we will be able to motivate youth to join ‘Skill India’ mission.” In the current form, it’s difficult to envision how that would come to pass unless NSDC ensures that the content it uploads on its account is catering to the TikTok subculture.

NSDC’s SkillIndiaOfficial account and Skills4All hashtag. Image: TikTok

That’s not to say TikTok can rest easy by just promoting a hashtag and partnering with NSDC. TikTok has faced the wrath of the government in the recent past, and it’s a win-win situation for it to get in the government’s good books. But merely showcasing #Skills4All in its trending section for the duration of the World Youth Skills Day and then moving on to the next trend will hardly create any dent. As it stands, the partnership only seems to be benefitting TikTok which would most likely get future TikTok stars out of the collaboration. Let’s face it, TikTok has become a legit career option for many youngsters. But is that what the government’s Skill India mission is aiming for? I think not.

With over 200 million users, TikTok has immense potential to influence the youth. It could certainly help out the NSDC with the right insights to ensure that the @SkillIndiaOfficial isn’t dead on arrival and actually does the work of promoting vocational training among the youth.

As we follow the planned launch of India’s second mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-2 on 15 July, you can find our entire collection of stories, in-depth analysis, live updates, videos & more on our dedicated #Chandrayaan2TheMoon domain.

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