Engagement to Ecommerce: The Evolution of Creator content on TikTok

Ben Woollams
Ben Woollams
August 9, 2023
The way in which we search for and buy products has changed vastly since the internet’s inception. No longer faced with the intimidating task of trawling through shop rails, counters or baskets, products are now accessible in a few clicks, scrolls and taps...

The way in which we search for and buy products has changed vastly since the internet’s inception. No longer faced with the intimidating task of trawling through shop rails, counters or baskets, products are now accessible in a few clicks, scrolls and taps. Now, social media platforms like TikTok are pushing our access to and awareness of products further, changing the boundaries between education and entertainment through creator content, and regenerating the user shopping journey.

TikTok’s evolution, from a platform that hinged on entertainment and engagement to one now fuelling a rise in a global shift of brand focus to ecommerce, has made its presence in the media and marketing landscape formidable. The platform once hosted purely visual entertainment, populated with dance videos that saw creators like Charlie D’Amelio rise to fame. Now, its variety of content, from breaking news and insight to unbelievably niche topics, captivates a huge range of audiences, and the short video format has been so popular and effective that it has resulted in the ‘tiktokification’ of other platforms like YouTube and Instagram. 

As the internet continues to evolve, scepticism towards online information is quickly making its way to obsolescence via an influx of expert creators advising audiences on where to go, what to eat, what to wear, how to make things and what to buy. 25% of Gen Alpha are influenced most by influencers or bloggers, second only to their friends (Wunderman Thompson Report). TikTok is trailblazing the user journey, providing entertaining product information through content that drives sales, and empowers users to buy in just one click. 

TikTok’s ability to adapt to trends and demands from users, integrating features like TikTok Shop to enable users to streamline their shopping and platform experience, have empowered the platform to stay ahead of the curve by providing brands, users and creators with the tools they need to work seamlessly together. The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt is testament to the success of this, currently totalling 61.6 Billion views and counting. 

Brands can now select and upload a list of products to their TikTok shop, which seamlessly will allow these products to be available to show during a creator’s content as a Video Shopping Ad (VSA). Fully rounding off the consumer experience for shoppable ads; with a creator being able to showcase a specific product within their content, whilst at the same time TikTok provides a clickable display ad with that same product for users to click through to a checkout page - the aim being to keep the high quality entertainment content, but to drive a better conversion and experience for users looking to now search and purchase products.

TikTok’s aim to create a bespoke user journey for shoppable ads doesn't just stop at TikTok Shop. In an effort to also close the gap between organic content and performance, TikTok have recently bought out a set of new features; such as the ‘Comment Anchor’, which allows a creator to include a landing page link within content at the top of their comment section - so to allow for the option of increased lower funnel performance through Organic posting. 

82% of consumers trust the opinions they see on social media channels (Matter Communications), and 50% of TikTok users have bought something after watching a TikTok LIVE. Now, when consumers look for information, creators are their first port of call. More knowledgeable than friends and family, but less self-motivated than official brand sites, creators have become the voice piece for market knowledge through creating strong, relatable and sometimes niche content that their followers trust, engage with and love enough to buy, sometimes based on recommendation and affiliation alone. 

Lending itself to the naturally curious, TikTok houses content from niche and expert creators, so users can find out directly from experts their opinions on topics, like gymnasts sharing their shaving routines to celebrity hair stylists sharing their most used products. This content, which stems from curiosity, guides a shopping experience for users that enables authenticity from both the creators they love and the brands they rave about, creating a more successful and stronger match for the audiences engaged.

For brands, this provides a unique opportunity to capture creators’ attention, and in doing so, their audiences. Through platforms like TikTok that truly champion user-experience, ecommerce and collaboration, brands are empowered by a new and increasingly popular medium to host their products, websites and storefronts alone are no longer enough. Creators have quickly become a vital ingredient to successful marketing strategies, guiding audiences through the entirety of the marketing funnel through their content; from product discovery, and navigating product use through to purchase, as well as the bonus of further word-of-mouth recommendations and discussion as products continue to trend after purchase. 

A glowing creator review, placement or mention, placed in front of the correct following, can be the catalyst for a brand reaching virality, or gaining a stronger foothold in its sector. Waitrose recently reported its feta cheese sales increased by 33% between May and June 2022, following ‘whipped feta’ trending on TikTok. The British supermarket now includes TikTok in their annual food and drink report, manifesting the undeniable economic influence of content on the platform.

Through offering their own advice, and embedding promotion and recommendation within content that resonates with its audience, creators become experts not only in product markets, but also in audience and target market demands. They’re positioned ideally to outline new products to their audiences, as well as being experts in what their audiences want to hear. This insight in both the market, and its target audience is invaluable to brands, and unparalleled by other more traditional marketing methods, making it paramount that brands wishing to be successful get involved.

User-Generated Content (UGC) is supporting consumers throughout the entirety of the marketing funnel, while platforms like TikTok are supporting both creators and brands in doing this, integrating social commerce on the platform and making purchasing products as accessible as the information, discussion and hype surrounding them. 

Influencer’s mission, to build meaningful relationships between brands, creators and their audiences has enabled work on a wide range of global campaigns, with some of the worlds largest brands and most influential creators. Combining people power and platform power, and recognising the impact of platforms like TikTok, Influencer integrates TikTok APIs to offer the most up to date data metrics for real time campaign measurement, empowering brands to stay involved and up-to-date with their marketing activations on the platform.

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