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Inside Beat

TikTok Shop till you drop? Feature robs app of authenticity, exhausts users

Content creators on TikTok are now able to link products from their videos to their TikTok Shop, a virtual storefront linked to their account. – Photo by Tiktok

Scrolling on your TikTok "For You Page," you may have noticed an increased number of TikTok videos promoting products linked to the creators' TikTok Shops.

TikTok Shop was introduced in September and has since become a popular way for creators to promote products. Although it makes it much easier for users to run businesses on TikTok, there are some downsides to it.

While small business owners have been able to utilize TikTok Shop to promote their catalog, so have dropshippers.

"Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method that does not require a business to keep products in stock. Instead, the store sells the product and passes on the sales order to a third-party supplier, who then ships the order to the customer," according to Big Commerce.

While this is beneficial for those looking to make some money on TikTok, the prevalence of dropshippers using TikTok Shop has increased the frequency of promotional videos on the app. Even videos that are seemingly more lifestyle- or culinary-focused will sometimes include a TikTok Shop link or product placement edited somewhere into them.

It can be fun to come across some new small businesses while you're scrolling through your "For You Page," but when every video has some kind of promotional aspect, many of them start to feel forced and inauthentic.

Additionally, TikTok Shop-linked videos may even take away from small businesses. If popular creators begin dropshipping or promoting products made by larger corporations, they'll likely get more attention than small businesses that have a smaller following and are trying to get the word out about their products.

Many of these promotional videos feature creators testing out products from their TikTok Shops. But their reviews feel inauthentic and somewhat dishonest — why would someone provide a negative review of a product they want their viewers to purchase?

If you're scrolling through TikTok and see a cool new product being reviewed by someone who's promoting their TikTok Shop, you'll have to look externally for unbiased reviews, which creates more unnecessary work for consumers.

Overall, TikTok Shop's popularity and the constant posting of promotional videos are making the app start to feel repetitive and stale. Creative videos are becoming overshadowed by product promotions.

While TikTok has always thrived on people repeating trends, sounds and dances, there is something disingenuous about TikTok Shop's takeover of the app.

In contrast with other big TikTok trends that can help creators gain followers or generate revenue, TikTok Shops are so focused on making money that any creativity in these videos automatically feels forced.

There's nothing wrong with promoting products you enjoy or for small businesses to dedicate their social media pages to product promotion. It only becomes overwhelming when it's constantly done by creators who are reviewing products that they are promoting or promoting so many products that it begins to feel inauthentic.

Creators who want to make money via TikTok Shop should balance their promotional videos with more creative, original content to ensure that the app doesn't lose the fun and creative atmosphere it has typically maintained.

It's possible that the hype around TikTok Shop will die down once it’s been around for a while, but for now, maintaining a balance in the type of content posted is essential for keeping the app fresh and authentic.

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