Social media platforms have revolutionized the way we connect with people. And these interactions opened new doors for sellers to bank on their audiences’ interests unbeknownst to them pre-social media.
This revolution paved a way for digital communities to flourish, allowing people that share the same value or experience gather and establish their identity in the world. Marketers can then use this as an advantage since it is now easier to identify their market, target it collectively, and gain insights from their interactions regarding pain points that potentially their products can solve.
If you haven’t been living under a rock and are somewhat decent with getting on and navigating the internet, then you’ll know that social media app TikTok has become a massive viral sensation.
In August of this year, TikTok was the most downloaded app across all app stores. In the first year, it garnered half a billion downloads on Google’s Play Store alone. Currently, in the US, it has 30 million users within just the United States.
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There is no denying that TikTok has become a major player in the social media game. Now though, companies have begun to take notice of what it has to offer for branding and marketing. In fact, TikTok has emerged as a new avenue to boost views, exposure, and sales for ecommerce businesses.
This is thanks to how TikTok has set up their algorithm. Let’s check out the history of TikTok, how people can use it to improve their ecommerce businesses, and the driving factor behind it – the algorithm.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIKTOK
THE STARTING POINT
The origins of TikTok can be traced back to two friends working together around 2014. They were Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang. They saw the opportunities that technology presented and set about creating a social networking app focused on education of all things.
Through this app that they had envisioned, they wanted to make it possible for children to be able to study from the comfort of their own home.
Apart from that, the app would also give the opportunity to people who wanted to teach but did not have the right credentials with them. The app would pay them based on their work on the app, and they would also garner fame and popularity.
The work began in earnest, and the pair worked hard on it for six long months. When it was launched for the first time, their vision of an educational app didn’t seem to click. Instead, it was heading towards a more entertainment-centric approach.
The developers thought that the users wouldn’t use it for its intended purpose. Instead, they would use it for watching short yet entertaining videos. This is when they decided to pivot the use of their app. Thus, they went back to the drawing board.
After a while, they launched it once more to China and America in 2014. The app was called Musical.ly. This app was one that blended social media and music in a very unique way. Users could create videos with music like lip-sync videos and dance routines.
It was truly the predecessor for TikTok.
It grew in popularity, so much so that it had built a loyal following that would play an integral part in things to come. By 2016, more than 70 million people were using the app, with more than 10 million videos being uploaded each and every day.
TIKTOK IS BORN
Right around the same time in 2016, a Chinese company called ByteDance launched a similar app called Douyin. Within a year’s time, more than 100 million people were using the app.
A year after, ByteDance bought out the Musical.ly app for 1 billion USD. They merged both Douyin and Musical.ly, giving birth to what we know now as TikTok.
By 2018, TikTok’s downloads had surpassed massive apps like Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram. In a year’s time, the download rate had increased by more than 230 percent.
The primary users of TikTok were 16 to 24 year olds in the United States. In surveys, they described it as a fun and collaborative space. The various features would eventually be the building blocks of trends and subcultures.
TikTok was in a prime position in the social media game. Vine was another popular short video app that, at the time, was recently put down and left a big hole that TikTok filled. SnapChat was similar, but it could not offer what TikTok did in terms of functionality.
Various things have also found popularity on TikTok. It could be jokes, dances, songs, and even personalities. One user eventually earned millions of followers with his acting skits. His recent swell in popularity led to real acting opportunities.
TikTok has now outgrown its place in the social media market. While it is still an app used socially, large and small businesses are looking to TikTok for its marketing capabilities. This also rings true for ecommerce businesses, like products on Amazon for example.
The explosive popularity of TikTok is not only with the features that it offers. Instead, it has help from its algorithm.
THE TIKTOK ALGORITHM
Last June, TikTok did something that blew many people’s minds. Up until then, people were blown away by how the app’s algorithm created unique video suggestions on the “For You” page. Two different users would see vastly different videos.
The For You page was the first thing that TikTok users would see. It consisted of a seemingly infinite unique number of videos. For those who were seeking popularity, getting feature on the For You page was the make or break moment.
Many people had theories of how the algorithm worked, but none could be confirmed. In June 2020 though, TikTok offered a look under the hood of their algorithm.
UNDER THE HOOD OF TIKTOK’S ALGORITHM
In a blog post, TikTok revealed that the algorithm consists of various signals. These signals included hashtags used, songs liked, and even the device that the person used.
They outlined the general process of the algorithm. When a new video is uploaded, TikTok’s system shows it to a small set of users. TikTok has already determined that these users would probably like the video. This is based on the past videos that they liked before.
The video is considered “liked” when it is shared to others, when it is viewed completely, and if the creator is shared with other people as well. When that takes place, TikTok then begins to share it to more people. This creates a sort of feedback loop, that when it continues on, creates viral sensations.
When the sharing of the video reaches its fourth share, this can be considered a success and will most likely get a big number of views.
On the opposite side, if the video is not liked, TikTok shares it to lesser people. This limits the reach and popularity of the video.
This approach means that a video’s popularity does not rely on the number of likes and followers that it has. The For You page can include a variety of videos, and this is the reason why.
TikTok also takes into consideration things called “weak signals”. An example of this is the date when the video was published. While the viral nature of videos usually happens when they have just been posted, some videos can still find their way onto the For You page even months down the line.
As mentioned, other things considered by TikTok’s algorithm include songs, hashtags, and even captions. Users may notice that the same song is across a variety of videos on their For You page.
You can use TikTok for presence. Your business can ride the popularity while at the same time, making your product relevant to present times. You can guide the online traffic from it to your product listing and secure that sale.
Understanding algorithms can help you outsmart your competitors. It gives you the power to use the social media platform to cater to your particular needs. It allows you to drive TikTok to your advantage.
USING TIKTOK TO DRIVE AMAZON SALES
With the insane popularity and power of TikTok, it is no surprise that ecommerce businesses have found a way to leverage the app and its algorithm to drive sales.
TikTok advertising is undeniably flourishing. The rise of the influencer era makes it natural for people to look for personal recommendations and see products in action for them to appreciate. And TikTok is one perfect avenue to quench this clamor.
If you don’t believe this, let’s take a look at one of the first TikTok and Amazon success stories. This story is from a company that sold beauty products. The company is called Memebox.
Memebox created both their Amazon and TikTok accounts roughly around the same time. Pretty soon, the views for their videos started growing. One account currently has more than 350,000 followers. The amazing thing was they had not used any paid ads or hashtag challenges.
No wonder, celebrities are also finding their way to social media and are competing head-on with its own media stars. They need to go where their viewers are to remain relevant. And not only that since brands they can potentially endorse are also on social media so they have to be there, too.
While the example for beauty products, TikTok can be used for a variety of niches and products. One of the trends on TikTok right now is the phrase “TikTok made me buy it”. This speaks to how influential TikTok is in selling products.
Here are a few things that you can follow to utilize TikTok for driving Amazon sales.
The first thing that you should do if you want to use TikTok to improve your Amazon business is to understand how the app works. The community-like feel of TikTok means that users will be able to detect people who don’t know how or what things work in the community.
You need to start understanding what does and doesn’t work, and why. You also need to understand how to best interact with the people on the app. There is a certain vernacular and way of approaching them.
In addition, you also have to understand your target market’s TikTok video consumption behavior. What type of topics they are usually interested in? How long is their attention span?
It needs to be a natural fit.
If you observe the videos on TikTok, they are usually quite fun and quirky. Another trend it has is how it utilizes popular or memeable songs to their videos. Be creative in your videos!
Content creators for TikTok should have in-depth understanding about the behaviors inside the platform. While it is an inclusive place for everyone who’d like to express themselves, marketing with subtlety is the way here.
Marketing in TikTok should be executed in as natural as possible; much more like bringing the product into real life scenarios.
Execution may also depend on the niche. As examples, if your products are in the fashion categories, you may want to have relevant influencers demonstrate how to use or wear them. If you are selling gadgets, lifestyle scenarios to highlight features can be your kind of effective language.
Simplicity is also another trend in TikTok. If you’ll notice, the videos don’t really have amazing production quality. It is usually just done on a smartphone and is very brief. Target video content to be engaging and somewhere around 15 seconds would be enough. Simple is sufficient.
Within this short timeframe, you can play around with brief words, sounds, and subtle yet impactful video effects to immediately capture everyone’s attention.
Another thing to consider when doing videos in TikTok is mobile optimization. TikTok is a mobile app and videos should not only be brief but also not too heavy on internet data. You have to balance video quality and information quality through testing.
CREATE YOUR TIKTOK ACCOUNT AND LINK
The next step would be to create your TikTok account. This is a fairly straightforward process, so you’ll have no problems. It’ll be up in a jiffy.
Once that is done, you’ll want to link all your other social media accounts to your TikTok account. These include Facebook stories, your Instagram account, and most importantly, a link to your Amazon store. TikTok will then act as a redirect to your Amazon store.
IDENTIFY A NICHE AND TARGET THEM
It is now time to start producing engaging content. However, creating content is not enough. You’ll need to understand who you are marketing to. Try to find a way to communicate with your ideal audience.
One way to do this is data mining. It can be as simple as checking the comments to understand the language. Some may even share their experiences, which are a mining ground for pain points and concerns you can solve. You will also notice similarities within a group with the questions raised and comments made.
Grab every chance you get to go along with the trends so you remain relevant to your audience.
USE YOUR ALGORITHM KNOWLEDGE
This specific tip works well with the previous one. After you have identified your niche, go and study their behaviors on TikTok as well.
Now that you’ve understood how TikTok’s algorithm works, you should use it to your advantage. This would mean identifying key behaviors within your niche and applying those findings in the videos or content that you produce.
These could be done in songs, song clips, and hashtags.
Tools and analytics can also help hasten the process of knowing which audience to target that will give you the highest conversions. Research for converting keywords and relevant hashtags and make sure to use them in your content.
A management service from a social media expert can also help you maximize what the platform can offer. A third party perspective in your business can broaden your opportunities. You will also have someone focused on content creation on a regular basis so your followers are up-to-date.
HASHTAG CHALLENGES AND HASHTAGS
Another recent trend on TikTok are the hashtag challenges. This is when you engage your audience and encourage them to create videos with your brand hashtag on it.
One of the very first companies to utilize this was Guess. They encouraged people to create video content of them wearing Guess jeans from their new line. The hashtag was #InMyDenim.
This is a good way to engage customers and promote your business or brand as well.
Hashtags create these “networks” that collate the same or similar posts that users can easily access. You can choose to create your own or ride along popular ones that are relevant to your products.
At the same time, there are many other relevant and useful hashtags out there that you can use. A very popular one is #amazonfinds. It has currently garnered more than 700 million clicks on TikTok alone.
Once you post any content, one of the things you need to do is add this hashtag to your post. Due to this hashtag, the sales of beauty products has already doubled in April 2020 when compared to the previous year.
TikTok has its fair share of famous individuals. It may be a good idea to track down the right influencer and start working with them. This will increase your reach within the platform and use their popularity to your advantage.
The beauty of working with influencers is that it is as untraditional as it comes. The one thing you need to understand is that the predominant users of TikTok belong to Generation Z. This generation will typically shy away from any ad that looks traditional.
The TikTok influence will serve as your engagement and connection to the users; something that they have already if you select a popular one. The code here is selecting a popular one. You should select an influencer that shares your target audience or niche.
Just be wary of choosing influencers as their reputation may affect your product reception. Make sure their ways align with your values. A careful analysis of their lifestyle and interest, as well as the other brands they work with, can help you understand who they are. With that, you can now see if they represent your product best.
If you are looking for security for your product’s reputation, you may want to stick with informational content instead of getting influencers.
MAKE TIKTOK’S ALGORITHM WORK FOR YOU
We hope that everything we have talked about until now has shown you the power, reach, and influence that TikTok can have for your Amazon store.
The one thing that you best remember is how the algorithm of TikTok works. In truth, everything that you do when you hop on to market on the app will be driven by the principles of the algorithm. If you apply it correctly, you can harness the popularity of the app and make it work for you.
Start making TikTok’s algorithm work for you now.