Will Creators Need to Adjust to New Ways of Engaging their Followers on Platforms?

Posted by Elijah Pysyk • Aug 30, 2023 3:47:45 PM

Recent reports indicate a potential shift in e-commerce approaches that creators have employed in the past. A recent article from The Information suggests that TikTok might be contemplating a change by prohibiting video links that direct users to e-commerce websites like Amazon. This move could reshape the way shopping is experienced on the platform. This development has sparked curiosity and concern among both content creators and users. However, it's worth noting that TikTok has refuted these claims, as stated by TechCrunch, leaving room for speculation and uncertainty.

Given the prominence of the WeChat platform, this strategic maneuver from TikTok could align with its objective to establish an autonomous shopping environment within its own platform. This endeavor includes gradually replacing Shopify storefronts with TikTok's proprietary TikTok Shop hub. The intention is to centralize the shopping experience and encourage users to remain within the app for extended periods. This prospective step by TikTok mirrors a broader trend seen across social media platforms, where the push to enhance user engagement and streamline shopping interactions is growing more apparent.

A similar recent instance can be observed with YouTube, a competing platform, which recently announced its plan to deactivate clickable links in Shorts descriptions, comments sections, and vertical live feeds starting August 31st. While the motivations behind TikTok's move differ from those of YouTube—YouTube's focus is on countering scams while TikTok aims to nurture its shopping experience—both decisions have triggered worries among content creators.

Creators who have constructed income streams through commission-based affiliate links, such as those directing users to Amazon or other e-commerce websites, could face substantial challenges if TikTok indeed bans such links. Similarly, creators who market and sell their own products, like courses or merchandise, might encounter obstacles when trying to drive traffic to their external online stores.

Creators' responses to this situation have been a blend of concern and appeals for strategic adjustment. Some content creators worry that TikTok's potential prohibition of e-commerce links could curtail their income-generating prospects. The ability to seamlessly link viewers to products and services is a critical aspect of many creators' revenue models, and a ban of this sort could compel them to reconsider their approaches.

Nevertheless, amid these concerns, certain creators perceive this circumstance as a wakeup call. Industry expert Alex Leo, an executive specializing in AI technology, underscores the significance of creators forging direct connections with their audiences. She emphasizes that solely relying on third-party platforms leaves creators vulnerable to platform decisions, which can profoundly impact their earnings and content distribution.

Leo's viewpoint underscores a broader lesson for creators in the era of digital media. As social media platforms evolve and adjust their policies, creators are reminded of the value of nurturing their own autonomous presence. Establishing a direct rapport with their audience, possibly through personal websites, newsletters, or alternative platforms that creators have greater control over, can offer a safeguard against sudden policy alterations or platform-specific restrictions.

While any potential ban could have repercussions for content creators who rely on external links for monetization, it also serves as a reminder that creators should diversify their approaches and cultivate direct relationships with their audience. In an ever-changing digital landscape, retaining ownership over one's relationship with the audience remains a pivotal component of sustained success for creators across a range of platforms.

Topics: YouTube, Social Media, TikTok, content creators