2020 was a year of many trials and hardships for the world. Despite these challenges, it hasn’t been all bad. The app TikTok which has been steadily growing for years now hit an all-time high number of users in 2020. In any company growth results in innovation and TikTok is no exception. At the end of 2020 TikTok has announced a series of updates to the app to not only showcase their content in a better way but to start to expand as a market so users and sellers can interact and make purchases on the app.
A Year in Review
TikTok’s growth has led it to be on the way to being the next billion-user platform come 2021. This is despite the app’s controversial history which includes a complete ban in India and an ongoing legal battle in the United States of America. This success has prompted TikTok to make its first of a series of updates which was a “year in review” option.
TikTok’s year in review is a way for users to reflect and view the top videos of the year and tracks the effect that the user has had on the app throughout the year. This review lets the user know when they joined, what video effects they have liked the most, how many times they have commented on videos, their most liked comment, how many videos they shared, the most listened to sound, and more. At the end of a year such as 2020, it was TikTok’s way of showcasing some of the more positive aspects of the year and setting everyone up for a better 2021.
E-Commerce and Livestreaming
Aside from sentimental updates, TikTok has also launched a series of marketing-related updates that are supposed to help generate extra revenue not only for the platform but also for the content creators. TikTok had indicated that it was making moves towards e-commerce with ads related to specifics stores and brands already. The first update they included was their live streaming shopping experience.
In order for TikTok to keep up with other social media, platforms E-commerce is pivotal in giving creators more options to make money. This shift is similar to the recent developments in other social media titans such as Facebook marketplace and Instagram’s shop.
TikTok has now taken this next big step when they made an announcement of a new deal with Walmart. This deal will show the retailer’s showcase of products users can buy, all on a TikTok live stream.
“During a Walmart Livestream, TikTok users will be able to shop from Walmart’s fashion items without having to leave the TikTok app, in a pilot of TikTok’s new “shoppable product.” The fashion items themselves will be featured in content from ten TikTok creators, led by host Michael Le, whose TikTok dances have earned him 43+ million fans. Other creators will be more up-and-coming stars, like Devan Anderson, Taylor Hage, and Zahra Hashimee.” Explained Sara Perez in an article for Tech Crunch.
As products are shown they will have a pop-up pin. Once clicked this pin will add the item to the user’s cart. Once the user has finished their online shopping, they will be able to access a mobile checkout.
This is a big step for TikTok. Creators have had to connect link trees to Patreons and other funding websites due to TikTok’s lack of options for buying. When this update is available for all creators, users will be able to instantly buy products from creators without the use of a secondary application.
This was not TikTok’s first attempt at simplifying E-Commerce. In November 2020 TikTok added links in bios and social commerce links in certain videos. This was far from an online store but showed that they were interested in simplifying the shopping experience for users.
There was also TikTok’s “Small Gestures” project in April. This feature allowed users to send free virtual gifts in the app. They also have announced a deal with Shopify in October to help promote in-stream purchasing.
While TikTok is still far from achieving full marketability on their app, starting with in-stream sales is a good start. The main goal of this is not only to create more revenue for the app itself but to continue to provide for their top content creators.
Application in the past has failed because they couldn’t keep their top creators. When a creator with a large fanbase is able to make more money on another app such as YouTube, they may not stay on something like TikTok and vice versa. With creators being able to sell on live streams in the future more creators may come to the app and current creators are more likely to stay.
Advertising and Business Resources
This hasn’t been the only update meant to help creators gain an increase in revenue though. Recently TikTok released a “Small Business Resource Center”. The purpose of this resource center is for Creators and businesses to be able to make ads that they can use on TikTok.
These ads can achieve multiple things depending on what your primary goal is. These goals can be things such as reaching awareness, increasing website traffic, and getting more sales.
“TikTok ads manager provides powerful tools for you to launch campaigns, manage and resources, monitor data, and optimize your advertising.” states the official TikTok website. There are also webinars, as well as information on TikTok ad and performance metrics, and some links other business resources. With these tools TikTok has officially become an advertising website.
Originally there was only one reason for users to go on TikTok and that was for the videos they could watch. Now that they have advertising options many companies are making TikToks such as Arbys, The Washington Post and the NBA. As a result, this is diversifying and expanding the platform. Videos, custom chosen advertisements, and an increasing user base have all but ensured TikTok’s success.
There are a host of new features now available on TikTok. Most of these features are made for the benefit of the creators and users alike. Now as a creator on TikTok you can sell merchandise, interact with your customers/fanbase and list advertisements that will reach an audience of people who are more prone to buy and enjoy the content/product. As a user of the app these are all benefits as well.
Not only by tracing the user’s information has TikTok been able to share with the user what their “year in review” looked like but they are able to give them content and ads that they actually want to see. The question now isn’t if TikTok will reach a billion users on its platform but when they will.
This chart from MediaKix demonstrates TikToks unprecedented growth in the recent time. Beating out Facebook and Instagram for new downloads in the United states. It looks as if TikTok will be the next big industry name influencing the social media advertising market.
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.