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Maybe you hate TikTok shopping posts. Most people don't care.

Peter Kafka   

Maybe you hate TikTok shopping posts. Most people don't care.
  • TikTok's US growth is stalling. Some people blame all the shopping posts on the app.
  • But TikTok says it's not going to pull back on shopping posts.

TikTok, I hear, is in trouble in the US. But not because of a looming TikTok ban, but an even bigger issue: Its growth has stalled out.

What's going on?

My colleague Katie Notopoulos says the app isn't nearly as fun as it used to be and blames TikTok's unrelenting commerce push. TikTok really wants people to buy things from its store, so it is jamming your feed with posts from people selling things, and those posts are often lousy.

But TikTok says it doesn't care what Katie or anyone else has to say — it's going to keep pushing shopping posts.

Marni Levine, who runs TikTok's US shopping operations, says she's "not considering" pulling back on 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 is the person who's running the TikTok Shop going to say in public? "You're right, I should get another job?"

On the other hand: Maybe most TikTok users are totally fine with shopping stuff.

That's the conclusion BI sister company Emarketer draws from a recent user survey. It's not that users aren't noticing the shopping posts — 62.5% noticed an uptick in the posts over the last six months. But among those who did, "almost all (91.7%) respondents who noticed a change said their TikTok usage either rose or remained unchanged in that time period, with 70% reporting an increase."

Which … kind of sounds right to me. I've actually bought something from the TikTok Shop — these Cancer Socks from John and Hank Green. They were easy to buy, arrived right away, are pretty decent socks, and the money I spent goes to a good cause.

And as far as the other shopping posts I'm not interested in, which is basically all of them? They're easy enough for me to swipe past, just like the rest of the stuff I don't care about on TikTok. That's the whole point of TikTok — just keep swiping until the algorithm pops up something you like, which happens quickly.

I do assume that at some point, TikTok will have to rebalance the shop/not-shop post ratio. And it's probably a really difficult decision to make — I assume it involves weighing the potential for retail commission vs the potential for ad dollars.

But for right now, maybe it's not such a tough decision.

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