TikTok is taking another step into social commerce with the test of a feature that lets influencers add eCommerce links to their posts.
Back in January, TikTok started testing its eCommerce capabilities with shoppable ads, which it eventually started rolling out a few months later. Now, it’s back with some more: giving influencers the ability to use social commerce URLs in their videos, a feature it calls ‘shopping cart.’
The new feature was first leaked by a TikTok engineer via a Chinese web forum, and Fabian Bern, Founder of a Chinese influencer agency, tweeted the news last week, explaining that influencers can add ‘link in bio’ and ‘social commerce URLs in videos.’
— Fabian Bern 法比安 (@iamfabianbern) November 14, 2019
As seen in the video, a simple click of the in-video link connects viewers to an Amazon store where they can buy official merch. A TikTok spokesperson confirmed that the company is indeed beta testing its social commerce functionality with a select group of top-performing US influencers.
So, What Does This Mean For Marketers?
It’s become clear that TikTok is actively working on its eCommerce capabilities, and working fast to take advantage of its recent explosive growth and popularity. It is, however, unclear whether or not this beta test will result in a full global roll-out, or when. However, brands and marketers need to be aware of TikTok’s increasing influence in this area.
TikTok’s recent eCommerce plays are going to create a few headaches for Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, of course, but we just have to wait and see how this all pans out within 2020.
TikTok is a big Instagram competitor, especially in terms of key demographics. Nearly 60% of TikTok’s US MAUs are between 16 and 24 years of age. Sound familiar? That’s because this is Instagram’s second-largest demographic – and one that it certainly wants to keep close.
The Effect On Influencer Marketing
This new feature could very well pose a threat to Instagram’s influencer ecosystem. A July study conducted by InfluencerDB highlighted Instagram’s apparent content saturation, and the effects it is having on influencer success. Put simply, Instagram influencers are seeing close to record-low engagement levels as a result of this.
Of course, Instagram is not about to sit there and do nothing. The test of its new Reels Instagram Stories feature in Brazil is proof of its attempt to take advantage of TikTok’s viral, short-form, meme/music video format.
However, in terms of content alone, many see TikTok as an improved version of the once-popular Vine; a platform that failed miserably at supporting its influencer community, and eventually shut down. TikTok seems to want to stay away from that example, helping influencers build out their social commerce toolkit.
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