Authored by MRM:Commerce & Performance Art | Ed Kim, Adam Ferraro, Mitch Wong and Taylor Siegel
Have you ever done that thing where you’re up at night, scrolling and product content zooms in, and then, before you know it, you’re tapping “buy now”?
Chances are, you’ve answered yes, and are part of the 76% of Americans who are swiping and buying on social media.
We’ve seen a huge spike in social commerce since 2020 with heightened consumer expectations, new tech rollouts and the onset of the pandemic – all working together to make shopping on spaces like TikTok a staple in people’s mobile patterns. It’s critical for brands to lean into how platforms are accelerating their interface to make their experience entertaining and easily shoppable. TikTok’s latest commerce iteration is part of its rapid evolution as it tries to become a major force in the near future of commerce.
The Power of a Discovery-first UI
One of social media’s values for commerce is rooted in product and brand discoverability, with 54% people stating that they’re increasingly turning to social apps as their designated source of truth and 78% stating that social media has influenced their purchasing decisions. When we look at TikTok’s ‘For You Page’ (FYP), we see how the experience for discovery can be rapidly expedited. By default, when users open the app, they’re greeted with a FYP that is a custom feed of tailored content to individual preferences. It’s a never-ending scroll of clips that its learning algorithm pushes out to enable hyper-personalization in real-time.
TikTok’s algorithm not only learns from your interactions but also actively tests content to customize what you see, keeping you engaged and endlessly discovering content that you haven’t seen before.
Brands like Le Creuset have taken advantage of this by creating content that rides on the trend of soothing kitchen clean-ups to hack the algorithm and increase their chances of being seen by users exploring their FYP. Additionally, when something goes viral on TikTok, the platform is a great place for WOM to organically happen in the world of commerce. There are plenty of examples that you can find under the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt trend that has taken over the internet and 67% of users state that TikTok inspires them to shop for something even when they weren’t looking to.
See here for example.
Content has always been king, but with consumers today demanding more authenticity, it can be a challenge to create content that connects with audiences. However, when it comes to TikTok, 4 in 5 users say that the content they see is extremely entertaining. So, what about content on TikTok led many to believe that they’ve cracked the code? Well, a fundamental point to be made with TikTok in particular is how it has completely shifted the power from brands and retailers to the people.
TikTok alone has democratized how content is being created by transferring control to individuals and is rewarding them to do so.
When brands tap into creators who have already built trust with their audiences, they can not only engage their fans in an authentic way but also stay in line with what content their audiences hope to find and share. Brands like e.l.f. have seen success by leveraging creators with their own unique story to convince and educate their fans about their products.
See here for example.
Additionally, with TikTok launching its ‘Shop’ features in the US late last year (September 2022), they have made it easier for users to both discover entertaining content and also directly shop what is being featured.
Looking Ahead for North America by learning From Asia
Despite TikTok’s explosive growth in North America, there is still a long road ahead for it to catch up to its progenitor, Douyin. One of the major differences that we can expect to see in the future is the evolution of TikTok’s current algorithms.Douyin has already shifted how discoverability is prioritized, giving more weight to well-known creators and accounts.
Working with content creators is now the leading driver for commerce on the app. What we’re also keeping our eye on is the growth of live-stream shopping on Douyin, where consumers tune into a social shopping channel to purchase live from their favorite creators.
We would expect to see attempts at adopting this format in North America to compete with the likes of Amazon Live.
How Brands Can Win on TikTok
Reach out to us here, if you’d like to learn more about how we can help your brand activate on social commerce!
 – US Census Report: Quarterly E-Commerce Sales, May 2023
 – Digi Vendors: The Growth of Social Commerce in 2023, April 2023
 – GlobalwebIndex – Social Behind the Screens, 2023
 – TikTok For Business – What’s Next: The unstoppable power of #TTMMBI, Feb, 2022
 – TikTok For Creativity – 2023 Trends Report
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