As TikTok continues to grow, and remains in operation in the US, despite a White House Executive Order for its sale, it also continues to churn out new stars, its own platform celebrities who themselves continue to grow and expand their audience reach, and become businesses in their own right, based on their short video clips.
Which is great for TikTok, as quality creators help it bring in more users. But at the same time, TikTok knows that it needs to create pathways for these creators to generate income from their efforts, and ideally, not just through their own influencer partnerships, but through ad revenue share and other tools that can help them maximize their potential.
If they can make more money on Instagram and YouTube, which have more robust ad networks and tools in place, eventually, they will - which is why TikTok has been working to integrate more eCommerce options to help provide another avenue for creators to make direct income from their work.
And this could be the next big step in that direction - as per TikTok:
"Today, we're announcing a global partnership with Shopify that will help more than a million merchants create and run campaigns directly geared toward TikTok's highly engaged community."
This is not direct, on platform eCommerce, of course. The arrangement enables Shopify merchants to run promotions on TikTok, which they can create within their Shopify dashboard.
But it's another step towards potentially facilitating sales on TikTok channels, a key area of growth for the app.
"Through the new TikTok channel, Shopify merchants can access core functions of the TikTok For Business Ads Manager without leaving the Shopify dashboard. Highlights include:
- New, "1-click" pixel: Shopify merchants can install or connect their TikTok Pixel with a click of a button, making it quicker and easier to track conversions.
- A One-Stop-Shop for TikTok Campaigns: Merchants can create campaigns, target audiences and track performance in one place.
- Creative Made Simple: Everyone has a story to tell on TikTok, and the TikTok channel enables Shopify merchants to create native, shareable ads that resonate with the community. TikTok's intuitive creative tools help turn merchants' products into high quality TikToks in minutes.
- Free Ad Credit: Eligible merchants can claim a $300 ad credit to jumpstart their first TikTok campaign."
For Shopify merchants, that could be enticing - according to TikTok, around half of its users have indicated that they discover new products through advertisements posted by a product or brand in the app.
"We’re excited to build on our partnership with Shopify as we continue to explore both paid and organic opportunities that bring value to businesses and help grow their audience on TikTok. As a part of our partnership, we’ll also start testing new commerce features that make it even easier for our users to discover Shopify merchants and shop their products within the app."
Those new features will likely be similar to the product tags that TikTok has already been testing with some users and brands.
Direct connection with Shopify could advance this even further, and provide that next step in TikTok's monetization plans, following the same path as the Chinese version of the app, 'Douyin', which reportedly generated over $122 million in revenue last year, mostly driven by eCommerce sales.
But then again, what if Walmart eventually does takeover the app?
The current proposal would see a Oracle/Walmart lead group buying up the global version of the app, and separating it from parent company ByteDance. Negotiations over the sale are still in progress, but the vision, seemingly, would be that Walmart would benefit from integrating its own eCommerce tools into the app, and providing direct links back to its own products.
Would this new partnership with Shopify still be relevant if that were the case? Would Walmart allow Shopify merchants to sell on-platform if that meant losing its own sales in the app?
There's still no guarantee that the Oracle/Walmart deal will go through - what once seemed like a certainty now appears to be on hold, or at least biding time till after the US election. But if it does, you would think Walmart would have a significant say over how such integrations proceed, which could change things again for the app.
But right now, Shopify merchants can run TikTok promotions via their Shopify dashboard. And maybe, in future, depending on what happens with the TikTok sell-off, merchants may also be able to sell products within their TikTok clips, with direct links back to their Shopify stores.
We'll have to wait and see what comes next.