Home // Selling Too Hard on TikTok? 8 Tips for Avoiding TikTok Shop Overkill

TikTok Shop, the social media platform’s e-commerce offering, launched in the U.S. last September, letting TikTok users buy items they see in videos without leaving the app.

TikTok’s choice to leverage its influence and reach came as little surprise. Its immediate advertising overload, on the other hand?

“I’d now describe my For You Page as a scrolling infomercial that knows it needs to show me a couple Shadowheart memes to keep me looking,” freelance journalist A.W. Ohlheiser lamented on Vox. The majority of grievances, meanwhile, were aired on Reddit and, yes, TikTok. “I can’t just get on TikTok and just scroll and watch videos like I used to be able to do. Now I scroll and I’m just seeing ads for everything…It really f&%^$!$g sucks,” banksbrooke2 ranted in a September 27th post.

TikTok has since taken steps to offset the number of TikTok ads appearing in feeds; a recent increase in TikTok Shop seller fees might have also reduced ad volume. Still, between the fumbled TikTok Shop debut and rising social media fatigue, intolerance for pushy sellers is real – a reality that marketers must heed. Smart content creators in 2024 are those prioritizing restraint and impact. Of course, that’s easier said than done amidst dwindling attention spans in a notoriously crowded virtual space. How do you move the needle without overdoing it and incurring user backlash?

Understanding the challenge facing TikTok Shop marketers, here are eight tips for developing effective TikTok Shop content for the foreseeable future, until ad saturation and related backlash simmer down:

1. Be transparent. Our first tip is probably our most controversial:

As recently as a few years ago, we might have recommended TikTok Shop ads that parade as organic content—the social media equivalent of slipping medicine into peanut butter. As explained, though, users have gotten savvier—in the last few months especially. They’re touchy about uninvited and disingenuous content and bristle at blurred lines between what’s meant to entertain and what’s trying to make a sale. On today’s TikTok landscape, a forthcoming brand is a desired brand. A wise rule of thumb: Make your ads distinguishable from your organic content.

2. Resist ad overload. Bombarding users with ads is tempting and, frankly, sometimes works. Given social media fatigue today, though, your better bet is to slow down to speed up. Be conservative to start, prioritizing content quality and an approach that fits into your overall budget. You won’t regret channeling resources into strategy and execution, which is a sizable investment but ultimately offsets the need to bombard users. Pulsing your TikTok ads—i.e. turning ad variations (not the whole campaign) on and off strategically so people don’t get tired of them—is another tool at your disposal.

3. Choose partners carefully. Many brands partner with influencers and creators who become the faces of their TikTok ads and/or organic content – often to great success. However, we can’t stress this enough: Impactful influencer marketing hinges on the right partners. Beyond ensuring brand alignment, vet influencers and digital creators carefully to make sure there are no surprises in their larger online presence or past that could anger users and damage your brand.

4. Lean on analytics. TikTok Shop, like Meta shops, doesn’t pass much information along to you when a user purchases a product. Offset this dearth of insights in the following ways:

  • Make sure your TikTok pixels and conversions are set up.
  • Pair them with Google Analytics 4; monitor performance metrics and refine your ad campaigns based on user behavior and feedback.
  • Run a few different types of campaigns to see where users convert the most. Examples: a discovery campaign tailored to new audiences, an existing customer campaign, and re-marketing to users who have been on your site previously.

5. Don’t forget to entertain. TikTokers aren’t looking to shop, per se. They come to the platform to be amused, distracted, maybe ask a question, and, above all, entertained. TikTok ads that offer no inherent entertainment value can do more harm than good for your brand. Keep creativity front and center as you design high-quality videos for your target audience.

6. Be mindful of audience overlap. If you have multiple creator campaigns targeting overlapping audiences, those qualified users are going to see a lot of your ads—potentially too many. Be sensitive to this risk. Layer your creators’ distribution schedules so that they don’t overlap, or customize them to reach different audiences.

7. Stay agile. TikTok is the opposite of “set and forget.” Brands that are flexible and willing to pivot to capitalize on trends can have rousing success. On TikTok, more than anywhere else, agile brands and early adopters are often rewarded.

8. Remember who you are. TikTok has a unique way of speaking to users, and it’s important that you understand its culture as you create. Still, make sure your TikTok Shop content doesn’t stray from your brand identity. Put another way, don’t bend so far to please TikTok that you break your own branding roles. A prospect or customer who follows you on TikTok still needs to see a consistent brand message across all of your touch points, of which TikTok is only a fraction. Create a mix of content that is engaging and interesting and on trend versus overly promotional.

Want to ensure a balanced and positive TikTok user experience for your prospects and achieve TikTok Shop success? Turn to Hammer Marketing. Our team leads clients in the quest for the best social media content plan for their brand, budget, and goals, from high level strategy to execution. Drop us a line or swing by for a visit today!