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According to a survey, TikTok users don't mind shopping posts

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TikTok has pushed its shopping posts. A survey shows that most users don't mind.
Getty/ChayTea

  • TikTok's US growth is stalling. Some people blame all the shopping posts on the app.
  • But TikTok says it won't take back the shopping posts.
  • Maybe TikTok is right: A new survey shows that most users don't mind the posts.

I heard that TikTok is in trouble in the US. But not because of an impending TikTok ban, but because of an even bigger problem: growth has stalled.

What's up?

My colleague Katie Notopoulos says the app isn't nearly as fun as it used to be, blaming TikTok's relentless push for commerce. TikTok really wants people to buy things from its store, so it clutters your feed with posts of people selling things, and those posts are often crappy.

But TikTok says it doesn't matter what Katie or anyone else has to say – it will continue to push shopping posts.

Marni Levine, who leads TikTok's US shopping division, says she's “not thinking about” retiring her shopping posts. “We’re trying to establish ourselves as an e-commerce juggernaut,” she said at an event hosted by The Information this week.

On the one hand, what else will the person running the TikTok shop say in public? “You’re right, I should get another job?”

On the other hand, perhaps most TikTok users are completely okay with shopping.

BI sister company Emarketer comes to this conclusion from a current user survey. It's not that users don't notice shopping posts – 62.5% noticed an increase in posts in the last six months. But among those who did, “nearly all (91.7%) respondents who noticed a change said their TikTok usage either increased or stayed the same during that period, with 70% reporting an increase.”

E-MARKETERS

Which…sounds kind of right to me. I actually bought something from the TikTok shop – these cancer socks from John and Hank Green. They were easy to buy, arrived promptly, are pretty good socks and the money I spent goes to a good cause.

As for the other shopping posts that don't interest me, what are they basically? They're easy enough for me to swipe past, just like the rest of the things I don't care about on TikTok. That's the whole point of TikTok: just keep swiping until the algorithm shows something you like, which happens quickly.

I assume that TikTok will have to rebalance the ratio of shop and non-shop posts at some point. And it's probably a really difficult decision – I assume it's about balancing the potential for retail commissions against the potential for advertising dollars.

But right now it might not be such a hard decision.