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TikTok Makes Monetization Move with Partner Shopify

The hugely popular and – in the US at least – politically controversial social media platform TikTok pulled off a huge move this week in its quest to monetize the rapidly growing brand. 

TikTok’s short, user-generated videos have been the single most popular social media innovation of the past two years, with millions of users and viewers signing on in just months. 

Less welcome for TikTok was the attention of US President Donald Trump, who saw the Chinese-owned platform as a security threat to US citizens. 

Clearly, many US and Western corporations don’t agree, as businesses large and small have rushed to partner with the rapidly growing user-generated video platform.

Now TikTok and the Canadian ecommerce giant Shopify have launched a new “compatibility project” which allows small business owners to create, manage, and measure their TikTok ad campaigns natively within the Shopify platform. 

The new TikTok feature within Shopify will provide access to the core functionality of the TikTok for Business advertising manager to roughly one million merchants around the world. The feature is now available in the US, and will be extended to North America, Europe and Southeast Asia by the end of Q2 2021. 

While TikTok is a relatively new player in the social media world, the Chinese-founded company has rapidly made inroads not only in terms of user acquisition, but in adopting a variety of monetization strategies. 

In June TikTok launched its TikTok for Business website (www.tiktok.com) with the slogan, “Don’t Make Ads. Make TikToks,” where companies are encouraged to “unleash your brand’s creative side.” While the TikTok videos are clearly ads, the company advocates a viral video approach to marketing, telling stories and building audience for brands rather than simply putting out ads designed to sell a product right now. 

“Over the past year, brands have found success resonating with the TikTok community not because they had the glossiest ad or the biggest names in their campaign, but because of their ability to creatively engage and connect with users through feelings, actions, and sounds,” Katie Puris, the company’s managing director of global business marketing, wrote in the company blog. 

TikTok quickly followed up in September with the launch of its Marketing Partner Program, which links advertisers with several technology providers to help them create and measure their TikTok campaigns. 

Those include creative development partners like QuickFrame, VidMob, and Vidsy, or branded effects companies like Byte, Happy Finish, and Ignite XR, among others. All partners on the site – https://ads.tiktok.com/marketing-partners – are experts vetted by TikTok who can create campaigns relevant to the TikTok audience. 

But all of that can now be seen as building the foundation for TikTok’s ad business, while the deal with Shopify opens the doors to the millions of actual advertisers who drive revenue. 

In true TikTok fashion, the social media newcomer has partnered with Shopify on a campaign called #ShopBlack, which allows viewers to shop a sponsored hashtag without leaving the app. 

The campaign will see Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs sharing their stories with the TikTok community from Nov. 10 to 15, with viewers being able to shop products from more than 40 Shopify merchants using the hashtag.

TikTok notes that posts using #BlackOwnedBusinesses and SupportBlackOwnedBusinesses have generated over 210 million views to date. 

TikTok says #ShopBlack is only the latest venture among an ongoing series of campaigns to democratize entrepreneurship and elevate the voices of Black creators and entrepreneurs.

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