Optimizing your TikTok strategy to capture social commerce dollars

Over the last couple of years, TikTok has transformed from an app where teens post dance routines to a bona fide social giant, competing with the likes of Facebook and Instagram.

And as the platform grows, so does the opportunity for marketers to advertise and sell on it.

This year, we predict total US retail social commerce sales will hit $53.10 billion, boosted by the rapid growth rate of social buyers on TikTok, rising over 72% to 23.7 million.

Looking to capitalize on TikTok’s meteoric rise? Here are a few tips and tricks experts shared at Advertising Week New York to help marketers make the most of the platform:

You need a unique strategy. It may sound obvious, but what works on another social platform may not work on TikTok.

  • Speaking about Uber’s entry into TikTok, Alyssa Wagner, global head of paid social at the company, said that it was a learning curve. “You can’t just apply best practices from Meta or any other channels, you have to come with a TikTok-first strategy.”

Establish a creative-first approach. TikTok is all about the creative, so to keep things fresh, source creative from a variety of places.

  • Uber works with agencies, TikTok creators, and even TikTok itself to develop creative for the platform. Then, its internal creative optimization team handles everything from briefing to testing to analyzing data.
  • “We run evergreen campaigns, but there’s always a test inside of those. Whether it’s this creator versus that creator, or testing a sticker versus a display card, we run thousands of tests,” said Wagner.

It all comes back to measurement. This year, TikTok launched a suite of tools to help advertisers measure their campaigns on the platform.

  • “Everything that we do should be anchored in a learning agenda of sorts, anchored in measurement outcomes,” said Sheraz Amin, head of North America product strategy and operations at TikTok.

What lies ahead? When looking to 2023 and beyond, the consensus is that the focus will be testing and learning. But it’s clear there’s room for everyone to grow.

  • Wagner is excited to take the learnings of the past year and apply them. But she acknowledges that with the fast-changing world of social, it’s important to be flexible. “If you create too long of a road map, you can get yourself into trouble,” she said.
  • Amin hopes to use the tools TikTok released this year to create a baseline and then improve upon them. He also encouraged brand partners to engage in raw, honest dialogue with the platform. “If we don’t understand your needs, we can’t address them. Everything you see from us is about improving or addressing challenges.”
  • “It’s fun to think about what comes next. Measurement has to be the backbone, but as long as we measure correctly in the different parts of the funnel, as well as test and learn and iterate, I think the sky's the limit,” said Sarah Ripmaster, chief sales officer at Smartly.io.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.

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