TikTok quietly launched “scores” for influences, ranking content creators on factors such as enthusiasm and their willingness to promote products, according to a new report in MarketWatch. Internal documents show that TikTok discussed plans to provide these social media credit scores to its business partners under strict secrecy.
As the short-form video app works to turn its exploding popularity into a sustainable business, the company is particularly focused on introducing a shopping platform where you can buy products through the app. These scores for influences are a part of that effort.
TikTok spelled the plan out in documents shared with retailers and brands, all of them labeled confidential. The scores are intended to help companies figure out which creators to partner with. As MarketWatch explained, the company ranks creators on a number of metrics:
These included a “cooperation index,” meant to measure how enthusiastic that creator is when working with brands, a “diligence index,” meant to measure how willing they were to load their feeds up with shoppable products, and more.
TikTok shared an interface with potential business partners in which creators are sorted by their influence in certain product categories, the amount of content they produce, how successful that content is, and how well videos drives sales. Influencers are also rated on how “collaborative” and “consistent” they are.
TikTok didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Influencer marketing is an enormous and ever growing industry. Until recently, businesses mostly had directly relationships with the creators they partnered with. But TikTok and other companies want in on the action. The company launched tools to make sponsored content a formal part of the app, helping companies find and partner with the right influencers. That gives TikTok insight into this corner of the economy and creates an opportunity for the company to snag a share of the profits.
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But most of the purchases that TikTok and other social media apps generate via ads are completed elsewhere. Bringing that commerce onto the apps themselves would create a big revenue stream, and a new field of consumer data ripe for the picking.
A shopping platform only works if companies that make and sell products use it. The discussions about scores for influencers come as TikTok is engaged in closed-door talks with companies around the world in an effort to woo partners into using the app’s shopping tools. For now, that effort seems mostly limited to countries other than the US, as live social media shopping experiments in the US have largely stalled so far. Meta recently rolled back its shopping platform on Facebook and Instagram, for example. But buying products via social media is big business in other parts of the globe, most prominently in China.
TikTok’s plans for social credit scores for influencers center around Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, where the social media service is piloting a tool called TikTok Shop to great success, Marketwatch reports. TikTok also discussed the creator scores with businesses in the UK, where its shopping tools faced a much poorer reception.
There’s no word on whether TikTok will bring these influencer scores to the US. But according to MarketWatch, the ranking system is live in every country where the TikTok Shop platform is available. Presumably, that means content creators are being ranked on how well they play into TikTok’s business plans as you read this.