Why TikTok Shop's Multifaceted Approach Can Make Social Commerce Work in the US

TikTok Shop arrives in the US

TikTok

I’ll be making it to my first-ever VidCon later this month. If you are attending VidCon Baltimore, let me know. I’d love to connect!

Today’s Edition

  • TikTok aims to make social commerce work in the US with TikTok Shop

  • Instagram gives users more control with a Share to Feed option

  • LinkedIn makes it easy to find creator-brand collaborations with a new search feature

  • Pinterest announces a handful of product updates and ad solutions at Pinterest Presents 

TikTok Shop Arrives In The US

TikTok has officially launched TikTok Shop in the US, introducing a native e-commerce solution to the platform. This initiative prominently displays shoppable content from creators, brands, and merchants, offering users an immersive shopping experience within the app. Key features of TikTok Shop include

TikTok

  • In-Feed Video and LIVE Shopping: Creators, brands, and merchants can tag products, making their videos and live streams shoppable and visible in the For You feed.

  • Product Showcase: Brands can prominently display their products on their profile pages, curating collections for viewers to explore. Users can access product details, read reviews, and make purchases within the app.

  • Shop Tab: A dedicated marketplace provides brands with a platform to showcase their products. This section offers users a searchable interface with product listings and shoppable content.

  • Affiliate Program: Creators can earn commissions by driving sales for participating brands through TikTok's Affiliate Program.

A Significant Milestone

The launch of TikTok Shop in the US represents a significant milestone in the platform's evolution. The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt is already well-known, highlighting TikTok's influence in social commerce. With its own e-commerce solution, TikTok aims to streamline the selling process for creators, brands, and merchants while enhancing the product discovery and purchasing experience for consumers. This move effectively integrates e-commerce directly into the TikTok ecosystem.

TikTok's Multifaceted Approach to Social Commerce

In recent years, various platforms have explored social commerce in the US, primarily through live shopping, which has progressed slowly.

TikTok's multifaceted approach, encompassing live shopping, in-feed shoppable videos, product showcases on profiles, and a dedicated marketplace, provides a range of options for sellers and buyers, as opposed to leaning only on live shopping.

Unlike Western markets, where live shopping serves as a primary driver for commerce, the majority of US consumers are not inclined to shop at specific times, as live shopping necessitates.

TikTok, in response, provides consumers with various shopping touchpoints, catering to both real-time (live shopping) and on-demand (in-feed videos) preferences, as well as offering a marketplace through the 'Shop' tab. Rather than directing consumers toward a single shopping behavior, TikTok allows them the flexibility to shop in a way that suits their individual preferences, which is a very important piece.

Challenges Ahead

TikTok won't be without its challenges, however. One of the biggest concerns is whether users will become overwhelmed by an influx of videos featuring creators and brands selling, especially in the For You Feed. While people do come to TikTok to discover products, entertainment remains a core factor. If videos become too sales-oriented and less entertaining for users, it could negatively impact TikTok's dynamics.

Other challenges include concerns about the quality of certain products and potential violations of intellectual property rights—challenges that Amazon has encountered in the past and still does today.

The Future

In the coming months, we'll gain a better understanding of TikTok Shop's impact in the US.

One expectation I have is that TikTok may eventually host its own shopping event, similar to Amazon Prime Day, with creators playing a significant role. Over the summer, Amazon, Walmart, and Target also went head-to-head with their shopping events. TikTok joining in would add even more competition and provide shoppers with additional ways to discover products, save money, and connect with their favorite creators.

Instagram Adds Option for Sharing to Feed or Profile

Instagram has added a Share to Feed toggle for certain users during post creation. This toggle lets users decide whether to share their posts with their followers or keep them exclusively on their profile.

Why it Matters: This option, in conjunction with the Close Friends feature for Feed Posts and Reels, gives users increased control over their content sharing preferences. It's useful for those who want their posts visible on their profile but not necessarily shared with all their followers.

Some users have employed a workaround, where they share a post, quickly archive it to prevent it from appearing in their feed, and then unarchive it to make it visible on their profile. Now with this option, there’s a streamlined way of sharing content directly to the profile without having to worry about how it performs in the algorithm or with followers.

Instagram Introduces A Following Feed for Reels

Instagram has introduced a Following feed for Reels on the Reels tab. To access it, users can simply tap "Reels" in the upper left corner and select "Following" from the dropdown menu. This new feed displays Reels exclusively from the accounts they follow, with the most recent posts appearing at the top

Why it Matters: Until now, Instagram only offered a personalized Reels feed, which included a mix of content from followed accounts and recommendations.

The addition of the Following feed now provides users with the choice to exclusively view Reels from accounts they follow, akin to the TikTok experience. Personalized recommendations have played a pivotal role in the success of short-form video experiences, but Instagram users often prefer to see content from their followed accounts. This update addresses that preference.

Threads Rolls Out 24-Hour Notifications and Quote Posts from the Web

Threads has rolled out two new features. Firstly, on mobile, users can now activate 24-hour notifications for a conversation by tapping a bell icon within a thread, eliminating the need to follow a specific account. Secondly, users can quote posts from the recently launched web version by using the new 'quote' option beneath the repost logo.

Why it Matters: Instagram is continuously enhancing Threads to encourage greater adoption and usage.

The 24-hour notification feature offers a convenient way for users to track conversations briefly and participate as they wish. Enabling the ability to quote posts from the web addresses a previously missing element, aligning Threads' web experience more closely with other platforms like X, where quoting is a widely used feature. This enhancement allows users to share others' posts with their commentary, fostering increased engagement—a valuable addition to Threads.

TikTok Adds New Sorting Options for Creator Posts

TikTok has added a new post sorting feature. On a creator's profile, users now have the option to sort posts by either 'Latest' or 'Popular.' The 'Latest' option displays the most recent posts, while the 'Popular' option showcases posts based on popularity. This likely considers a combination of metrics such as views, likes, comments, shares, and saves, rather than relying solely on a single metric

Why it Matters: Marketers can gain quick insights into the breakdown between organic and sponsored content when sorting by 'Popular,' especially when evaluating potential collaborators for sponsored content.

This feature helps brands make more informed decisions about how potential creator partners' content may perform in their campaigns, as there can sometimes be disparities between the performance of creators' organic content and their sponsored content. Introducing additional sorting options like 'Most Shared' and 'Most Saved' could provide even more value.

LinkedIn Launches Brand Partnership Search Feature

LinkedIn has launched a Brand Partnerships Search feature as part of its newly introduced Ad Library. With this feature, anyone can search for and discover posts created by LinkedIn creators that have been tagged with the Brand Partnership Label. This label indicates that a post was created on behalf of a brand, often in the form of sponsored content. Users can easily search for these posts using keywords and apply filters based on the posting date, such as 'Past 24 hours,' 'Past Week,' and 'Past Month

Why it Matters: Similar to Meta and TikTok, which recently implemented similar features, this development offers several advantages for creators and marketers.

For creators, the feature streamlines the process of identifying brands interested in collaborating on LinkedIn. Brands, on the other hand, gain the ability to discover potential creator partnerships on LinkedIn and understand how others are engaging with creators across the platform, especially as sponsored content picks up on the platform.

Pinterest Unveils Product Updates and Ad Solutions at Pinterest Presents 

Pinterest's recent global advertiser summit, Pinterest Presents, unveiled a range of product updates and ad solutions. These announcements include:

  • Ad Formats: Pinterest is introducing new interactive ad formats, including Showcase Ads and Quiz Ads. Showcase Ads are swipeable branded images with cards, while Quiz Ads engage users with questions to help them make purchasing decisions. Pinterest is also expanding Premiere Spotlight, its premium ad placement, to the Home feed, in addition to Search.

  • Business Manager: Pinterest's advertising platform is receiving several upgrades, including the ability to share and grant permissions to partners, a dashboard for tracking account metrics, and audience sharing features.

  • Creative Studio: Brands will be able to use this AI-powered creative tool to create lifestyle imagery for their Product Pins by inserting a Pin link and selecting prompts to generate a selection of custom background images.

  • Links: Advertisers now have access to two new link types for their ads: Mobile Links and Direct Links. Mobile Links take users directly to a specific page in the advertiser’s mobile app, while Direct Links provide a one-click transition from a Pinterest ad to the retailer's website, streamlining the shopping journey.

  • eCommerce Integrations: Merchants can upload their product catalogs to Pinterest through additional eCommerce integrations, such as SalesForce Commerce Cloud and Adobe Commerce.

  • Collages: Creators can cut objects out of Pins and combine them with other cutouts to create interactive collages with shoppable elements through the new Shuffles-inspired feature.

Why it Matters: These new ad formats, e-commerce integrations, and link types will enable brands to prominently showcase their products and streamline the path from inspiration to purchase.

Enhancements to Business Manager, especially the ability to share permissions with partners, will facilitate seamless collaboration between brands and their agency partners, similar to what Meta and TikTok offer with their ad platforms.

The introduction of Creative Studio follows other platforms in incorporating generative AI tools into their advertising solutions, simplifying ad creation at scale.

Collages are notably the only creator-focused update, but it is an important one that will help Pinterest continue to capture the attention of Gen Z users, one of its fastest-growing demographics this year.

Artifact, a relatively new app created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram, has introduced a new Links feature. This allows users to share URLs to various types of content including articles, videos, recipes, and more, along with captions or photos, all within a dedicated Links tab. These links are showcased in a visually-oriented and personalized "For You" feed driven by AI. User profiles have been redesigned to include the links they share, along with their comments, followers, and those they follow.

Why it Matters: Artifact's latest updates expand its capabilities beyond articles, bringing it closer to the social magazine platform Flipboard With the ability for users to share various types of content, such as articles, videos, photos, and more, Artifact presents new opportunities for creators and journalists to distribute their own work, such as blog posts, newsletters, or YouTube videos, and expand their audience reach as well as provide a home for curators.

Spotify Rolls Out New Advertising Tool in Showcase

Spotify has launched Showcase, a new ad campaign tool designed to help artists and their teams run sponsored recommendation ads. These ads appear as mobile banners at the top of Spotify's home page, a highly frequented section of the platform. Artists can use these ads to promote singles, EPs, or albums, and they have the flexibility to target more than 30 markets and specific listener segments.

According to Spotify, users who come across a Showcase ad are six times more likely to stream the promoted release. The cost structure for Showcase campaigns starts at $100, and it operates on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis of $0.40, meaning advertisers are charged only when listeners click on the ad.

Why it Matters: Spotify's ongoing expansion of tools for creators is bringing more elements of social media platforms into the streaming service. Recently, Spotify gave podcasts greater control over their profiles and content by allowing the addition of social media links.

Now, with Showcase, artists can access advertising tools similar to those found on Meta and TikTok, enabling them to effectively promote their music to both new and existing audiences. Showcase ads can be used for various purposes, including building anticipation for upcoming releases, leveraging the popularity of songs trending on TikTok, promoting seasonal tracks, and celebrating past release anniversaries.

This move reflects broader advertising trends that emphasize advertising solutions for creators and small businesses, not just catering to large enterprise brands with substantial budgets

What I’m Reading

  • 2023 MIT Platform Strategy Summit: 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Platforms: (MIT Initiative on The Digital Economy)

  • The NFL gives creators access to its archives for content creation with pre-approved footage (Digiday)

  • 5 Things To Know About Creator Compensation In 2023 (Mavrck)

  • How Cerave's influencer event doubled as an enormous content studio (AdAge)

  • The creator economy goes global (Stripe)

  • When Your Favorite Influencer Becomes Your Travel Vacation Buddy (Bustle)

  • Brands are still figuring out virtual influencers (Marketing Brew)

  • Is That a Model or AI? (Wall Street Journal)

Thank you for reading! If you've enjoyed this, please consider sharing it with a colleague or friend. If you have any feedback, ideas, tips, or questions, or would like to collaborate, please don't hesitate to reach out here or send me a DM.