ICYMI: 3 burning questions about TikTok commerce

Insider Intelligence recently hosted a webinar about strategies for commerce success on TikTok. (You can watch the replay here.) We were flooded with questions during the webinar, but three rose to the top: TikTok versus YouTube, whether to join TikTok, and how to navigate brand safety concerns. Here, principal analysts Jasmine Enberg and Debbie Williamson weigh in on these burning questions from marketers and brands.

With the growth of TikTok, how will YouTube and Instagram fare?

YouTube and Instagram will remain highly relevant venues for influencer marketing and social commerce in 2022. Brands should take a multiplatform approach to reach wider audiences and drive sales from social media this year.


YouTube is a widely popular venue for consumers to engage with creators and shop for products.

  • 68% of consumers who watch influencer videos on YouTube could recall the name of a specific brand featured in such a video, per a December 2021 Hub Research survey. Among those respondents, 86% said they have purchased or would consider purchasing a product based on a YouTube influencer’s endorsement.
  • 12% of US digital buyers in our February 2022 survey with Bizrate Insights had made a purchase from YouTube in the previous month, behind only Facebook (26%) and Instagram (17%).

As TikTok leans into longer-form video, it’s encroaching on YouTube’s territory. But YouTube is also investing heavily in Shorts, its short-form video service, and rolling out new shopping capabilities to remain competitive.


Research shows that TikTok is more popular among consumers than Reels, Instagram’s short-form video service. But Instagram is more than just Reels; its wide variety of content formats is what will continue to make it an attractive venue for both influencer marketing and social commerce in 2022.

What’s more, nearly all of Instagram’s content formats are now shoppable:

  • As of March, all US Instagram users can add product tags to their posts—a feature that was previously only available to approved creators. Product tags allow users to link out to a product information page directly from an Instagram post.
  • In October, Instagram expanded the ability to add “Link Stickers” in Stories to all users, allowing users to direct Story viewers to a website. Previously, only businesses and creators could use this feature.

If my brand’s target audience is not on TikTok, why should I join?

There are two sides to this question: whether to join TikTok as an individual user and whether to use TikTok as a marketing vehicle.

Should you join TikTok? Yes. Anyone involved in marketing should sign up for the app so they can learn more about this dynamic, rapidly growing community and understand how consumers interact and engage with short videos.

Should you market on TikTok if your target audience is not there? No, it’s not wise to spend money on any marketing vehicle if you are sure your target audience isn’t there. However, TikTok’s user base is broadening, so it’s important to remember that its users aren’t just teens. We estimate that about 18% of TikTok’s US users will be between the ages of 12 and 17 this year, while nearly half will be between the ages of 18 and 34.

How should brands navigate brand safety concerns on TikTok?

The most important thing brands can do is to be aware that TikTok, like most other social platforms, isn’t immune to brand safety concerns. It’s trying to address them, such as by releasing a report on teen safety and introducing features that filter out content about self-harm and eating disorders.

But some disturbing content still makes it through those filters—so much so that TikTok has contracted tech firms to seek out and remove videos that break the platform's rules. In addition, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has flooded platforms like TikTok with violent combat footage, which could make brands nervous about their ads showing up next to problematic footage.

Brands should take advantage of ad placement tools that support brand safety, including those that let brands select the types of content that ads can and can’t appear next to. On TikTok, the TopView and Brand Takeover ad formats can potentially meet brand safety requirements because they appear when a user first opens the TikTok app, with no videos appearing before them.

Here is additional information about TikTok’s approach to brand safety.

For more, Insider Intelligence subscribers also have access to our report: TikTok Commerce 2022: How Brands Can Cash In On #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt with a Content-First Strategy.