Finally, TikTok is beginning to pay US creators a commission for promoting products on its app through its new TikTok Shop program. Affiliate marketing is a common revenue driver for influencers and probably sits second under brand partnerships in terms of the most high revenue forms of income for creators. Most affiliate marketing programs typically offer commissions between 1% and 20% from sales.

Creators as part of this programme will often speak about a product and also link to it in a separate “showcase” tab on their TikTok accounts. If your feed isn’t yet flooded with creators showcasing the LED phone light like mine is, then I’m sure you have noticed the feature elsewhere. 

Other, often macro, influencers are also experimenting with TikTok’s test of affiliate and other shopping tools. In one example, Jess Val Ortiz, a creator with 9.4 million TikTok followers, partnered with Revolve in March to promote a live-shopping stream that showcased the brand’s “affordable” outfits, according to a video Ortiz posted on March 24 — it includes an “eligible for commission” label and links to a Revolve product.

TikTok’s push into in-app affiliate marketing for creators comes at a pivotal moment for the social-entertainment company as it races to replicate the social-shopping success of its Chinese sister app Douyin. Creators on TikTok have also complained, specifically over the past year, regarding its lack of monetisation opportunities. 

Furthermore, TikTok’s rollout of certain Shop features, such as live commerce, was messy in the UK and Europe, according to a June investigation by the Financial Times. The company may be looking to learn from some of its earlier hiccups as it introduces TikTok Shop to US users.

Social shopping has been noticeably slow to catch on in the US in comparison to its success in Asia. Meta-owned Instagram, for instance, has scaled back some of its shopping efforts including its own native affiliate program for creators and live shopping. Other companies are trying to compete with this gap such as YouTube who recently began testing an affiliate program for its TikTok-like feature Shorts, for example.

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