I own a digital marketing company and love marketing. I especially love the metrics-driven focus and ability to track, test, optimize, and improve. My love for the internet and its unprecedented ability to connect people and create community was one of the reasons I started a digital marketing company. Even as one of the earliest internet users, back when this thing called IRC was all the rage, I considered myself internet-savvy. But I have a confession:
I don’t use TikTok.
In fact, I’ve only ever watched about 4 TikTok videos in my life. I downloaded the app once, on a separate and old phone I don’t use anymore. (I’m too well-versed in its data privacy issues to put it on a device I actually use.) I started it up, created an account, told it some interests, and put down my phone 20 minutes later. And I’ve never opened the app again since.
But I’m one of the few. Americans now spend an incredible amount of time on the app, compared to even one or two years ago as the app gained popularity during the pandemic. The platform is impacting consumer buying behavior in some alarming ways:
- Users spend 14% more when TikTok is part of the purchase journey
- 37% of users discovered something on TikTok and immediately went to buy it.
- 35% of TikTok users buy something they see on the platform.
As the internet has grown, evolved, changed, and grown again, we’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the social networks of choice. We marketers tend to think of them as separate and distinct beasts, but the reality is, people use these apps for different reasons at different phases of the buyer’s journey. Here’s an example:
My friend Dave is super tech-savvy and works in sales for a tech company. He’s married, with two kids and a dog named Dottie. Dave is pretty musically inclined and plays the guitar.
He recently bought a “vintage” guitar with the intent of refinishing it and making it totally custom. Here’s how his journey went:
- Dave started looking on TikTok to get inspiration for the different finishes and colors that are possible on this style of guitar.
- Once he found a finish he liked, went to YouTube (the second most used search engine in the world) to see how it’s actually done.
- Next, he searched on Google for specific supplies to compare brands and prices and read reviews.
- Then, Dave went to Amazon to verify reviews and to make his purchase.
It was a huge surprise to me that he started on TikTok instead of Google or YouTube, so of course I asked him why.
He said, ”It’s because TikTok has the fastest interface – it’s easy to do a search and quickly swipe through options, seeing the breadth of what’s out there, without wading through the filler SEO results of Google or the non-stop ads and filler time of YouTube.”
And you know what? That logic makes complete sense. Just as your brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum, neither does social media.
While most people have a preferred “main” channel to two, they may use others with different intent. Consider where your brand can add value to people at different stages of the buying journey.
If your business is still unsure about adding a shopping feature to your social media channels, think again. Shopping on social media sites, known as social commerce, is a $37 billion market in the United States. By the end of 2025, that number is expected to more than double to $80 billion, and TikTok is expected to be responsible for a large portion of that number. For more data on TikTok’s role in consumers’ path to purchase, see the full study.