Building trust and loyalty in the era of community commerce

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By Greg Bailie: Sales Lead, Global Business Solutions, TikTok -Sub Saharan Africa

In today’s digital age, brands are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to connect with consumers and promote their products. Fuelled by the pandemic and technological advances, e-commerce has enjoyed significant growth in recent years. It is now an essential part of the consumer experience and – aided by social media – has created an enormous opportunity for businesses to expand their reach and engage with consumers through online platforms.

TikTok has become an influential force in driving purchasing behaviour among its users owing to its unique style, language, and aesthetic In 2021, the company surpassed 1 billion monthly active users globally, many of whom when surveyed reveal that they have purchased products  after seeing the items promoted on the platform.

Leveraging TikTok’s peer-to-peer reviews for community commerce

The use of social media to build a community around a product or brand has become an effective strategy for businesses looking for tangible returns on their marketing spend and investments. Using ‘community commerce’, businesses can further build loyalty and increase brand awareness among consumers. Beyond just selling products, the focus is on building valuable and engaging relationships with the customer base.

Peer-to-peer reviews also play a significant role in influencing purchasing behaviour on social media platforms. According to a study conducted by BrightLocal, 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and 46% of consumers feel that online business reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations from friends or family, highlighting the importance of maintaining positive reviews.

On TikTok, peer-to-peer reviews are often in the form of user-generated content, where consumers share their experiences with a product through short-form videos. This type of content is particularly effective in driving engagement and purchase decisions among younger audiences, who are more likely to trust recommendations from their peers over traditional advertising, which can often feel insincere.

By working with creators, brands can tap into the power of community commerce and peer-to-peer reviews to influence purchasing behaviour. But how does this work in practice? Let’s consider Ocean Spray’s Viral TikTok Video. One of the most famous examples of TikTok’s community commerce is the viral video featuring a man skateboarding while drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice.

The video was entirely user-generated and not commissioned by Ocean Spray, capturing the creator’s joy as they enjoyed the juice concoction. However, Ocean Spray recognised the potential of the video and created its own content featuring the original user. This led to even more engagement and significant interest in the brand, which all translated to a surge in the sales of the company’s signature juice. 

African brands thriving on TikTok

In an African context, community commerce on TikTok has the potential to be a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. The platform has democratised the social media landscape and provided a level playing field for businesses to engage with consumers in a more authentic way than other social media apps.

African brands are increasingly using community commerce on TikTok to build brand awareness, drive sales, and foster a sense of community around their brand. Some examples in South Africa include Checkers, which leveraged TikTok’s Spark Ads to fuel reach and generate awareness and positive engagements; Mr Price, which inspired users to engage with the #MrPriceEverydayViral hashtag challenge by sharing their everyday viral moments and expressing their unique styles, and reached over 200 million hashtag challenge (HTC) views; and SKOON. Cosmetics, which garnered more than 20 million video views, elevating the brand’s visibility and establishing itself as a significant player in the highly competitive African beauty industry.

Ensuring a safe space for brands and users alike

As with any digital platform, ensuring brand safety and building trust with consumers is critical. To mitigate the risk of encountering inappropriate or offensive content that could damage a brand’s reputation, TikTok has taken a proactive approach to brand safety.

One of the key measures that TikTok has implemented is its content moderation policies, which are designed to identify and remove any content that violates its community guidelines. These policies are regularly updated to reflect changes in the platform’s user base and the evolving digital landscape, ensuring that TikTok remains a safe and welcoming space for all users.

TikTok also offers advertisers a range of tools and features to help them control where their ads appear and ensure that they are aligned with their brand values. For example, advertisers can choose to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests and behaviours, allowing them to reach the right people with the right message.

Community commerce is a growing trend in digital marketing, and TikTok’s unique features make it an excellent platform for brands looking to engage with their target audience through user-generated content and peer-to-peer reviews.

Brands like Ocean Spray, Checkers, Mr Price and SKOON. Cosmetics reflect the variety of approaches and strategies that brands of varying sizes can use to establish a sense of authenticity and foster a loyal customer base. As TikTok continues to grow in popularity, its potential for community commerce will only continue to expand.