Social commerce has been around for longer than people realize. In fact, many people may not quite understand what social commerce means consciously.
Interestingly enough, while they may not be clear on the term, chances are that they have participated in social commerce in one form or another throughout the years.
For those who aren’t clear with the concept, social commerce is when a social network community is utilized to facilitate and push sales from e-commerce. This concept was actually introduced more than 15 years ago by Yahoo on their Shoposphere platform.
As technology continued to progress, so too did social commerce. In fact, shopping and marketing on the various social platforms out today has been ingrained in society’s psyche. It is in full swing and only looks to improve.
One of the most popular social platforms being used today is TikTok. The users have hit 800 million and are still increasing. In addition, it is the most downloaded app in 2020.
These days, TikTok is playing an integral part in social commerce when it comes to sales and marketing of specific products. The question now is whether or not TikTok has the ability to retain its Shoppable quality and become a tour de force in social commerce.
Is TikTok the future of social commerce?
Late last year, TikTok took its legitimate first step into social commerce. In October of 2020, TikTok invested further in their social commerce foray when they inked a deal with e-commerce platform Shopify.
With this deal, Shopify merchants will have easier access when marketing to the younger users. In doing so, sales can be driven and increased with the marketing efforts targeted at the youthful users of TikTok.
As the deal launched, Shopify merchants were given the ability to run marketing campaigns on TikTok. They will be able to create, oversee, and even optimize these campaigns via the dashboard in Shopify.
All of this is easily done when the TikTok channel app is installed on their dashboards. Apart from being able to create and run various beneficial marketing campaigns, they will also have access to various functions from TikTok For Business Ads Manager.
The hope is that the content created by Shopify merchants will connect with the TikTok users. This allows the merchants to go through the millions upon millions of users and target specific groups and demographics that they can convert for their brand.
Furthermore, merchants will also be able to install TikTok’s Pixel. This is a tool that can largely help to track conversions from successful TikTok marketing campaigns. These pixels can be used to track when users browse pages, add items to the cart, place an order, and the conversion.
This deal will continue to evolve as time marches forward. However, the deal may not be the sole reason why TikTok has become “shoppable”. Instead, e-commerce platforms have seen the unique things that TikTok has to offer and are leveraging those for social commerce.
Before we get into what makes TikTok so unique and effective, let’s first define what “shoppable” means.
For starters, when something is shoppable, it means that shopping is enjoyable. This definition is mainly used for real live location stores though.
For online stores, shoppable means that online content features certain products that can simply and immediately be published through links placed within the content itself.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at TikTok’s Shoppable Qualities that make it ideal for social commerce.
There is an interesting connection between TikTok and the history of shopping. Back in the day, one of the methods to reach a larger audience was in a process called late night TV shopping. Products would be presented and talked about, with phone lines ready and waiting to accommodate orders.
Technology has supercharged this process and brought it online. Now, everyone is able to go online and attempt to sell certain products through a variety of platforms. Similarly, people can just go online and watch their favorite streamers.
With the recent pandemic, while unfortunate, it has served to bolster interactions on TikTok. With people staying in more, the number of livestream events has increased exponentially. People saw a close to 1,500% increase in livestream events held.
At the same time, the duration of watch time increased by 250%.
At its set path, these numbers will only grow as the years go by.
Social commerce and e-commerce have been around for a long time. People have been using various e-commerce platforms for a while now. Platforms like Amazon and Shopify have allowed for people to shop online.
However, there is a lack of engagement due to the missing human element there. The influencers and personalities of TikTok fill this gap and serve to increase engagement.
For starters, the fact that many videos on TikTok happen in real-time. This real-time quality brings various elements into play. It helps to cultivate a sense of suspense and fear of missing out (FOMO). Viewers hang on the words and actions of the influencers that they watch. They are eager to see what they’ll be talking about or presenting.
In addition, the real-time streams are instantaneous. It makes the streams very exciting and intriguing for the viewers.
Finally, engagement comes in the form of community. The personalities of TikTok tend to create a community around them. Viewers can feel like they belong to a group of people. It invites them to participate more.
The final feather in the cap of TikTok is the humanity that they introduce to the viewers. The influencers of TikTok rise through the ranks because of their personality and influence. In addition, the fact that they are on-screen introduces a sense of humanity in the sense that people are actually interacting and watching with a real person.
These influencers have their own brand by the way that they present themselves to the viewers. The viewers are then able to identify and pick the personality that they want to follow.
Consequently, the fact that viewers are able to view these influencers in real-time means that a sense of trust can be established. More trust will help to generate genuine engagement.
Finally, it all boils down to the individual skills of the influencers. Just because people try to generate viewership and engagement on TikTok doesn’t mean they will succeed. It is also quite dependent on their character as well as their ability for storytelling.
Putting it all together, it becomes a recipe for success that helps content and social commerce shine through.
TikTok is a red-hot platform that holds a unique place in social commerce. Various brands and businesses understand how effective TikTok can be. Let’s take a look at how TikTok will affect social commerce moving forward.
TikTok is largely popular with the younger generation. Gen Z is front and center of TikTok’s audience, with at least 60% of the users belonging to this generation.
This translates to a massive opportunity for businesses and brands to capitalize on. They can now engage with this generation that is becoming the next emergent consumers.
This massive opportunity is also indicative of a change that businesses and brands need to move on. They have to start understanding this generation and what drives them to purchasing.
Characteristics like authenticity, self-expression, and the purpose of the brand are central to the social commerce experience and content creation process.
There is also a need for brands and businesses to tailor fit their content to the aesthetic of TikTok. TikTok has a very specific aesthetic that is largely different from other platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Many brands already have in-feed ads from other platforms. For TikTok, it may not be enough to just take those existing ads and place them on TikTok.
TikTok has a very distinct way of presenting their content. It is fast-paced, energetic, and dynamic. It is doubly important to repurpose ads to fit this style. Doing so will help to connect more with the platform’s audience.
Video ads that are short, snappy, and engaging are the ways to go. Mastering this will allow for the effective driving of social commerce sales.
As the years go by, it may not be out of the question that TikTok creates a new style of ads. The partnership between TikTok and Shopify will create many interesting changes to help drive social commerce.
For now though, it is important to master the current style and capitalize on in-feed video ads.
TikTok is one of the biggest platforms right now. It has large implications for social commerce that many brands and businesses should take notice and advantage of.
All of these are facilitated by the ever evolving technology and an engaging human touch. These allow for audiences to see better content, connect with the influencers more, and for brands to use it as a vehicle for communicating their messages.
Brands need to realize now that the social commerce revolution is not televised. It is streamed live on TikTok.