Fabian Barn, the founder of website development resource sharing company UpLabs, brought TikTok’s new social commerce feature to notice in a tweet posted on Thursday.

The said new feature that allows Instagram influencers to add commercial links in bios and descriptions of posts, similar to Instagram’s social commerce features – is currently in their beta testing phase. The feature, however, is only available to a small proportion of Instagram influencers in the U.S.

TikTok is a short video sharing app developed by Chinese company ByteDance. The app was launched in 2016 and has since become virally successful, having reached 1 billion users worldwide in 2019, just three years after its launch. Interestingly, for the last few quarters it has emerged In the first quarter of the current financial year, TikTok was the third most downloaded smartphone app.

TikTok: an upcoming hub for influencers to earn money?

ByteDance, which is seemingly dedicated to creating a positive experience for its users, rolls out new features to improve customers’ experience with the app, according to a spokesperson.

However, if TikTok permanently adopts its social commerce elements into the app’s framework, its already massive growth could reach new heights.

Given the demographic preferences TikTok users belong to (teens/young adults aged 16 – 24, most of which are women), it could become a land of countless opportunities for brands and influencers alike, as most young consumers today shop online and are most strongly impacted by video content.

Influencer marketing has increasingly become a common strategy for brands to reach audiences. It is favoured due to being cheaper than traditional advertising along with providing access to highly specific consumer bases through a trustworthy channel, i.e., the influencer. Today, influencers can easily make a 4 – 6 figure sum (in dollars) if their follower count is big enough. The biggest TikTok stars reportedly have net worths ranging from $4 million to $1 billion.

Thus, taking these factors into account, it is highly likely that if social commerce ends up becoming a regular feature of TikTok, it will pose a big benefit to established and upcoming influencers.

Beta test coming at a strategic time

Luckily for TikTok, Instagram’s recent move to hide the number of likes a person’s posts gets from their followers has caused influencers to criticize it. Since the change is now almost globally functional, some influencers are highly likely to move to other services that allow them a better chance at attracting brands. TikTok could become one such brand.

Lofty ambition even amid growing scrutiny

ByteDance is eager to grow and gain a foothold in the global tech market and TikTok is undoubtedly their access pass.

Although TikTok’s success has been impressive, its parent company has expressed plans to launch the TikTok phone, for which it has partnered with Chinese device manufacturer Smartisan Technology.

This project will create an opportunity for ByteDance to increase the number of users for TikTok as well as their other apps, by pre-installing them onto the phone.

Global tech giants are taking notice of TikTok’s growing success and doing whatever they can to stay abreast of the influence it has mustered. For instance, a new Instagram tool is said to replicate TikTok like features.

Concurrently, TikTok’s becoming the target of more and more scrutiny. Recently, US senators urged it be investigated. TikTok bans are being contemplated and implemented in many countries, including India, one of the top 3 markets for the service. Furthermore, there’s the added suspicion of TikTok selling user data without discretion due to it being a free service with a large user base.

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