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Social Commerce: How to Prepare for the TikTok Shopping API Launch?

Are You Ready for Social Commerce?

Social commerce and the creator economy are on the rise and this is influencing TikTok Shopping trends in 2022. The popularity of hashtags such as #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt demonstrates the already existing appetite for e-commerce that is priming the way for TikTok Shopping and its latest API (Application Programming Interface) launch. Following the success of previous e-commerce partnerships, the newest API launch builds on the 7 out of 10 users who say they find ads on the platform enjoyable. By keeping users in-app, the API launch puts TikTok Shopping at the center of content and commerce, continuing its successful transformation into an end-to-end e-commerce platform.

Demand for social commerce is high, with both Gen Z and Millenials reporting that they will be looking for alternative shopping methods such as TikTok and Instagram’s ecommerce features to get their Black Friday and Christmas deals. But even older generations are waking up to the trend, meaning that every brand has an opportunity on TikTok. Geographically speaking, the global market for social commerce is also growing fast. In Southeast Asia, for example, the live-selling of products via social media is particularly popular.

Stores need to prepare themselves effectively to capture user interest and convert sales via the new in-app TikTok Shopping experience. With the proper preparation, businesses can use the latest API launch to maximize their sales by engaging users who can then buy quickly and easily from their TikTok store.

Know Your Audience

TikTok has been testing various shopping partnerships and beta features in the past year to provide the one-click convenience internet shoppers are becoming fast accustomed to. Developing a TikTok presence can help your business access new markets and sales opportunities. TikTok’s popularity only grew over the pandemic, totaling over 1 billion active users in the summer of 2021 – a 45% jump compared to July 2020.

TikTok is most heralded for the authenticity of its creators, who create fun and trend-focused content it is so famous for. For a long time, brands have employed creators and influencers to promote products, using word-of-mouth advertising techniques updated for the social media age.

Businesses can then leverage collaborations with TikTok creators and use paid media to reach more people, and make it simple for new customers to reach their in-app point of purchase.

Strategize a Game Plan  

The first step in your TikTok game plan is to finalize your digital product catalog and set up a business account (if you haven’t already).

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Now you’re ready to start establishing a clear brand presence on the site. Before you post, strategize how you will humanize your brand via your content and decide the tone and voice you plan to take. This doesn’t necessarily have to reflect your traditional business image as TikTok is your opportunity to reach fresh audiences.

A great example of a business exploring new content formats is Duolingo, betting on a relatable and humorous TikTok strategy. The app’s green owl mascot Duo has recently gone viral and amassed over 1.6 million followers with its lighthearted Gen-Z approach to content creation. TikTok not only allows you to reach new customers in unmatchable ways, but it is also revolutionizing how you can get audiences to engage with your brand.

Getting the right tone will help you build an engaged community of followers interacting with your content. Businesses can then integrate products into entertaining content videos that fit the playful atmosphere that distinguishes TikTok from other social media. A branded song with an accompanying dance move or challenge can then be promoted as a trend by influential creators. Paid media ads are then used to further support the content to go viral and inspire users to connect with and buy in-app from your business.

Join or Start a Trend

TikTok differs from its competitors, such as Facebook and Instagram, thanks to its highly interactive elements such as lip-synching, duets, greenscreen, and dance challenges.

Existing trends are how you join the conversation and leverage their momentum to get new exposure. Creating a new trend is how you go viral on the platform. It’s essential to have a social media plan that is strategic and flexible, a vital tactic for allowing your business to tap into trending content and reach more of TikTok’s users.

Working with an agency that mediates collaborations with influencers and micro-creators gives businesses unparalleled insight into current trends and the creative expertise on how to tap into them. Creators, influencers, and even micro-influencers are integral to the platform, and their personalized marketing approach is one of the reasons why the site is so popular. Agencies help businesses’ effectively collaborate with creators connected to their target audience, meaning they then extend their reach organically and are more likely to see engaged users. Having access to TikTok’s beta features means an agency can test different audience profiles and develop creative expertise to best advise businesses on what trending audio or challenges they could take part in.

A great example of trend-setting is the campaign by #ShowUsYourHappy by online retailer Pura Vida that combines original music with an interactive feel-good challenge demonstrating the type of engaging, playful atmosphere that makes TikTok so popular amongst younger generations. While micro-influencers help brands reach smaller niche audiences, macro-creators such as Charli D’Amelio, have a substantial “level of influence” that brands can use to launch a trend.

E-Commerce is a flourishing industry under constant innovation. The key to success is to build a content foundation by engaging your community through a specific and consistent content format. Businesses need to continually look for new opportunities for growth to stay ahead of competitors. That’s where collaborating with creators and agencies can help companies take their TikTok presence to the next level, driving page traffic and engagement that businesses can then turn into sales.

Still, TikTok’s latest API launch is just the beginning of the site’s plans for a seamless in-app shopping experience. Businesses that start now can have the advantage of building a solid foundation on the platform from which to grow and develop their TikTok store as new e-commerce opportunities on the site become more and more widely available.

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