TikTok’s popularity skyrocketed this past year – probably thanks in part to everyone being so bored during the pandemic. But just because they are popular now, doesn’t mean that their position as a top contender is safe. To keep their super loyal user base, they need to offer reliable monetization opportunities. As influencers’ presence on the platform grows, this becomes even more important. TikTok’s new Seller University platform shows their dedication to this monetization push.
Before we get into the details around the Seller University, let’s talk about influencers. These are perhaps one of the biggest assets that any social media platform can have. By definition, these users have an extreme influence on the people who follow them. Say some users dragged their feet on signing up for TikTok, thinking it’s just “not for them.” But what if some of their favorite YouTubers/Instagrammers/Twitchers announce that they are becoming super active on the platform? Because of how quick and easy it is to post, they say that they are going to be posting all the time. This statement in itself can get tons of users to sign up. It really just takes a handful of popular users to get someone active on the app.
But influencers create content for a living. And to do that for a living, they need to make money. Platforms like YouTube and Instagram are no stranger to the monetization game, but since TikTok is a newbie, they still need to find their way. Although it’s been a great platform for fun, easy content, if influencers don’t have an easy way to make real money, they won’t stick around for much longer. That could push them back to the older social media platforms. The ultimate goal is for TikTok to become their main money-making platform.
Enter TikTok Shop: Seller University
TikTok recognizes the potential weaknesses and immediately got to work.
After a new partnership with Shopofy, TikTok is dipping their toes into the eCommerce pool with TikTok Shop. They want to allow brand to sell their products through in-stream selling tools. This will look like anchors embedded in content that users can click to purchase items directly through the app. Users that are selling can also have a dedicated tab on their profile with their product offerings.
And they also want to offer affiliate possibilities by mediating collabs between brands and influencers. Brands can upload their products to the Seller Center, where they can then set their promotion plans and find influencers to collaborate with. This streamlines the process for brands and influencers alike.
TikTok Seller University, currently being tested in Indonesia, is meant to make this transition to the ecommerce focus easier (and more apparent) to users. In TikTok’s words, here’s the goal:
TikTok Shop Seller University is a training hub to help you do business on TikTok. We offer a full suite of lessons on seller tools, policies, and the latest updates to the shop.
The best way to launch a new offering: show people how to use it
Launching this “University” is a great move as they test this new feature. The benefits are twofold. 1. It can help users understand how to use the feature better, resulting in a better experience for them and a higher likelihood that they’ll continue to use it. And 2. More simply, the existence of the training platform itself highlights the addition of this feature and communicates to users that this is a big focus for the app. This could be a great signal to both brands and influencers who may be questioning whether they can make money off this or not.
This feature is not quite available to users, but it’s on its way very soon.
Hannah Michelle Lambert is the Digital Marketer at Worthix, as well as the host of the monthly CX News Recap segment. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan.