TikTok Takes On Amazon, Threads Adds A New Feed, and the FCA Eyes "Finfluencers"

TikTok plans to launch a new e-commerce marketplace to battle Amazon, Shein, and Temu.


Today’s Edition

  • TikTok plans to take on with Amazon, Shein, and Temu

  • Instagram delivers a highly requested feature for Threads

  • The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) focuses on '“finfluencers”

News, Insights & Trends

TikTok Plans to Launch a New E-commerce Marketplace

According to reports, TikTok plans to launch a new e-commerce marketplace called TikTok Shop Shopping Center in August. The platform will help Chinese merchants sell goods such as clothes, electronics, and kitchen appliances in the US. It will offer a full range of services to merchants, including marketing, storage, shipping, and post-sale support, similar to Amazon and TikTok will earn a percentage of sales. In the future, it plans to extend the marketplace to merchants outside of China.

This move puts TikTok in direct competition with Amazon, as well as Chinese-based companies Shein and Temu. In 2022, Shein and Temu sold an estimated $800 million of Chinese-made goods in the US. TikTok already has a built-in audience, so the marketplace should launch with momentum, especially if integrated directly into the TikTok app. There is also a high chance that it will enlist creators to promote products through the marketplace, similar to the Amazon Influencer Program. Is TikTok Shop Day, coming soon?

TikTok Adds Dedicated Text Feature

TikTok introduced Text Posts, a new way for creators to share text-based content. A "Text" option is now available on the Camera Page, allowing creators to share up to 1,000 characters of text. They can also customize their posts with stickers, tags, hashtags, background colors, and sound, just like videos and photos.

TikTok becomes the latest competitor to X (formerly Twitter), but not in the same way as Threads or Mastodon since TikTok's core is video. There is an abundance of text content on the platform, from recipes and stories to poems, lyrics, and comments. With a dedicated space, new and existing creators can dive deeper into the content format. TikTok has shown it can successfully roll out new formats, such as photos and live video, so it's possible that text has a similar trajectory. With several platforms supporting text, creators have the ability to easily repurpose text content, similar to what creators can do with short-form videos.

Threads Launches New Features, Including a Chronological Feed

Threads launched several new features, including the highly requested Following feed that displays posts from users' followed accounts in chronological order. The default feed is still the For You feed, but users can switch to the Following feed by tapping the Threads icon at the top of their feed and swiping. Other new features include translations, the ability to filter notifications in Activity, and a Follow button in follower lists for users to easily follow back accounts.

Despite having to switch to it manually, users will be able to stay up-to-date more easily on posts from accounts they follow with a chronological feed. Overall, this batch of updates moves Threads in the right direction. With additional updates, such as post search and trending content, likely coming soon, the Threads experience should continue to improve.

LinkedIn Tests Integration with Microsoft Designer

LinkedIn is currently testing an integration with Microsoft Designer, an AI-powered design platform by its parent company. Select users can create custom designs and graphics using text descriptions and existing images through a new Design option on the share box.

This feature enables creators to add visuals to their posts, such as promotional graphics or illustrations, without leaving LinkedIn or relying on third-party apps like Adobe and Canva. By incorporating visual elements, creators can make their content stand out in the feed and drive more engagement. The integration supports LinkedIn's recent efforts to add more visual content and provide users with generative AI tools for easy content creation.

Reddit Rolls Out Official Labels for Profiles

Reddit has started testing an Official label for profiles. This label will appear next to the usernames of profiles that have authenticated their identity with Reddit. The label is intended to help users quickly identify organizations and provide transparency. Currently, only profiles that are part of organizations with which Reddit has existing relationships are included in the test.

Reddit is following in the footsteps of X, Meta, LinkedIn, and even Gmail, all of which have rolled out verification indicators to combat impersonation and increase transparency across their user bases. As Reddit is looking to generate revenue, it’s possible that it may decide to monetize the verification process in the future.

SAG-AFTRA Releases Guidelines for Podcasts During Hollywood Strike

SAG-AFTRA has released guidelines for podcast hosts and guests for the actors’ and writers’ strike. Here are key highlights:

  • Podcast hosts should honor their current contracts. However, if they self-produce their podcasts, they shouldn’t promote any struck work, whether past, current, or upcoming.

  • Guests are not allowed to appear on podcasts to promote any struck work.

  • Podcasts related to "rewatch" or "companion" content for struck work are considered promotional and should not be done unless they are part of pre-existing contracts.

  • Non-union podcasters who perform work or services for struck companies will not be eligible for future SAG-AFTRA membership.

Like the influencer guidelines released last week, SAG-AFTRA expects podcast creators to stand with striking actors and writers by rejecting work from striking studios and companies. While the influencer guidelines were already unclear in many areas, the podcast guidelines are even more so, especially when it comes to guests.

Spotify Teases New AI-Powered Features

Spotify announced plans to introduce new AI-powered features. During its second-quarter earnings call, CEO Daniel Ek revealed that the streaming service may use AI to provide more personalized content, summarize podcasts, and generate ads.

Spotify already uses AI in various ways, such as its DJ feature, which provides personalized music along with AI-powered commentary. These potential new features would provide several benefits for creators. For instance, summarized podcasts would help creators attract more listeners and drive growth by making it easier for users to explore and sample new podcasts, giving them a glimpse of what to expect. With AI-driven ads, advertisers would be able to generate ads quickly, enabling them to run contextually relevant ads at scale, which would mean more ad revenue for podcasters.

The FCA Proposes Stricter Guidelines for "Finfluencers”

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published updated guidelines for promoting financial products and services on social media. The proposal includes guidelines for influencers and the companies that work with them. Key updates include the following:

  • Companies should ensure that influencers have a relevant audience for their promotions, a good understanding of the products they are endorsing, and monitor influencer content to ensure compliance with regulations.

  • Influencers must comply with both the FCA's rules and the specific policies of the social media platforms they use.

  • Promotions include instances where influencers endorse products or services to boost views and engagement to receive direct payment from platforms (e.g., the TikTok Creator Fund, Meta's Ads On Reels) and promote products or services to increase their followers and engagement, with plans to charge higher rates for future brand partnerships.

These changes recognize the significant power of creators in the financial space, particularly on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, and formats like short-form video. They are more reflective of the current financial landscape by including cryptocurrency and buy-now-pay-later options. Last updated in 2015, the FCA's current guidelines focus mainly on text-based platforms and have no mention of influencers. Public feedback on the proposed changes is open until September 11, with finalized guidance expected later this year.

What I’m Reading

  • The 20 most influential TikTok talent managers and agents helping creators build businesses in 2023 (Business Insider)

  • TikTok is full of shady secret advertisements (Vox)

  • Inside the world of L.A.’s gym-fluencer ecosystem (LA Times)

  • ‘They love being heard’: How Bubble built an avid fan base via TikTok and brand ambassadors (Modern Retail)

  • Ipsy increases focus on YouTube Shorts after dramatic testing results (Glossy)

  • There's a deadly drinking problem on TikTok (HuffPost)


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