Social commerce and livestream shopping are playing a larger role on TikTok as the platform builds out its ecommerce business, though influencers still have a lot of sway in purchase decisions, especially among Gen Z. To be successful on TikTok, marketers need to lean into discovery and put content at the heart of their strategy.
Here are five pieces of advice for TikTok success in 2024.
The number of US consumers starting their online shopping journeys on TikTok has increased, though it’s still a small percentage compared with consumers starting their search on Amazon, Walmart, or search engines, per Jungle Scout.
Still, TikTok has become known as a place for consumers when they’re looking to find new products and see what others are saying about them—especially Gen Zers.
“TikTok, as opposed to platforms like YouTube, will give you more updated, recent content, giving you more exposure to new products that have recently come out or products that have [gone viral],” said Fay Shuai, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, during June’s CommerceNext event.
Nearly one-fifth (19.2%) of digital buyers ages 18 to 34 made a purchase via TikTok within the month of June 2023, per a survey by Bizrate Insights and Insider Intelligence. Older generations are more likely to make purchases via Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
The key to social commerce success on TikTok is tapping into its ever-changing trends. One day users may be obsessed with maxi dresses, and the next they’re all about a pickle sweatshirt. To make it easier to keep up, TikTok keeps an updated list of the top products on TikTok Shop so marketers can see what’s hot and what’s not.
Instagram may outpace TikTok in influencer marketing spend this year—Instagram’s $1.96 billion compared with TikTok’s $989.6 million, per our forecast—but according to Izea’s April survey of US Gen Z consumers, TikTok is the best platform to use when promoting a product through an influencer.
What makes TikTok so compelling for brands, influencers, and users? The same thing that sets it apart from every other social media platform: its algorithm.
“TikTok also has the magical factor—or maybe not so magical, maybe just algorithmic—that anyone can go viral,” said our analyst Sky Canaves on an August episode of the “Reimagining Retail” podcast. “So your micro-influencer, your everyday person on TikTok, can still be a huge resource for a brand working with that person because that video can still reach a huge audience.”
Behind YouTube, TikTok is the platform where US internet users are most likely to watch a creator- or influencer-led livestream, per a May Influencer Marketing Factory report. While livestream commerce hasn’t gone mainstream in the US yet, companies from Amazon to Poshmark are experimenting with the format.
Brands that want to give livestream commerce a try should consider starting on TikTok. Like YouTube, TikTok influencers have dedicated audiences that are more likely to buy from them. And with a live shopping feature built into TikTok Shop, the platform is aiming to make it as easy as possible for merchants and creators to sell directly from their livestream events.
Active TikTok users will spend 54 minutes a day on TikTok, just 6 minutes shy of the average daily usage of Netflix and just 1 minute more than time spent on Hulu, per our forecast.
Marketers on TikTok need to understand why users spend so much time on the platform, from entertainment to purchase inspiration to life hacks and how-tos. When it comes to TikTok, branded content needs to be engaging, authentic, and in-tune with wider platform trends.
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