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TikTok Tests New In-Stream Shopping Push in the US

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TikTok Tests New In-Stream Shopping Push in the U.S.

TikTok’s making its next push on in-stream commerce, with some users in the U.S. now seeing a new “Shop” tab appear in the app.

As you can see in these examples, shared by Bloomberg, the new Shop tab is being displayed to selected U.S. users between the “For You” and “Following” feeds, giving it premium placement in the UI.

According to Bloomberg, the new tab displays a scrollable listing of seemingly random products, largely originating from China, though some do appear to be linked to in-app trends.

“The most prominent section is for “Today’s Deals.” On the feed seen by Bloomberg, the top promoted product was a snail mucin-based face serum which has recently gone viral on the app.”

That aligns with TikTok’s revamped eCommerce strategy, which has seen the app look to focus on viral products, by providing them through its own supply chain, which is backed by a range of China-based suppliers.

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TikTok’s been testing this approach in the U.K., and now it seems to be reaching the U.S. as well, though in a slightly different display format.

TikTok Shop feed

The app remains very keen to integrate direct shopping, based on the success that it’s seen with the same in the Chinese version of the app.

Indeed, in-stream commerce is now the main income stream for “Douyin” the mainland Chinese version of TikTok, while TikTok’s also seeing solid take-up of its shopping tools in other Asian markets, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

But Western users have thus far remained hesitant to combine their social media and shopping experiences, preferring either physical shopping or dedicated eCommerce apps instead.

TikTok’s still trying to latch onto the best way to lure Western consumers, and convince them to buy in-stream.

It initially focussed on live-stream shopping, its main driver in China, but it was eventually forced to scale back its live shopping ambitions due to lukewarm user response. With that initial push not resonating, TikTok then moved onto in-stream shops and product display options, which have generated some response, but clearly not enough to make it a significant factor for the app.

So now, TikTok’s trying another tactic, though this one, based on initial insights at least, could be an even more risky approach for the short-form video giant.

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In its further notes, Bloomberg also reports that TikTok’s new U.S. shop tab is currently displaying products from several Chinese outlets that have already been banned from Amazon for faking customer reviews. The risk, then, is that if these products are sub-par, or if the listings are misleading, that could leave users more disillusioned with the TikTok shopping experience, and turn even more of them off of it for good.

Facebook has seen similar. Part of the problem with Facebook’s in-stream shopping push is that there are so many scams operating in the app that many people have been duped, leading them to lean more into the platforms that they know and trust for shopping instead. And each bad experience has a significant amplification factor, because users then tell their friends about it, which pushes even more people away from in-app purchases.

Essentially, social apps have got a long way to go to match up the trust that Amazon, eBay, and other big retailers have built into their systems. And without that, most consumers are happy to see a product in a social app, then go looking for it elsewhere, and purchase where they can do so with more peace of mind.

TikTok’s new approach, at this early stage, could run the risk of falling into the same trap, and it’ll be interesting to see if and how it plans to expand this new push within the U.S.

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

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This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

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“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

Instagram’s testing out some new options to help spice up your live-streams in the app, with some live broadcasters now able to select a game that they can play with viewers in-stream.

As you can see in these example screens, posted by Ahmed Ghanem, some creators now have the option to play either “This or That”, a question and answer prompt that you can share with your viewers, or “Trivia”, to generate more engagement within your IG live-streams.

That could be a simple way to spark more conversation and interaction, which could then lead into further engagement opportunities from your live audience.

Meta’s been exploring more ways to make live-streaming a bigger consideration for IG creators, with a view to live-streams potentially catching on with more users.

That includes the gradual expansion of its “Stars” live-stream donation program, giving more creators in more regions a means to accept donations from live-stream viewers, while back in December, Instagram also added some new options to make it easier to go live using third-party tools via desktop PCs.

Live streaming has been a major shift in China, where shopping live-streams, in particular, have led to massive opportunities for streaming platforms. They haven’t caught on in the same way in Western regions, but as TikTok and YouTube look to push live-stream adoption, there is still a chance that they will become a much bigger element in future.

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Which is why IG is also trying to stay in touch, and add more ways for its creators to engage via streams. Live-stream games is another element within this, which could make this a better community-building, and potentially sales-driving option.

We’ve asked Instagram for more information on this test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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