TikTok influencers who sell items through the app’s ecommerce program are leaving the platform over complaints of poor or non-existent pay, long hours and being forced to market cheap products.
The program, ‘TikTok Shop’ was launched in the UK last year to help brands and content creators sell partners’ products on the app.
TikTok Shop promises merchants a “rapidly scalable revenue stream” by hosting videos containing links to goods that can be bought or to take part in monthly promotional sales campaigns.
A number of the platform’s influencers have spoken out against the program, claiming that payments they were owed have ‘disappeared.’
They have also claimed that products they have sold through the platform have turned out to be low quality, according to the Financial Times.
Often, products on the platform are sold with a large discount directly from the manufacturers.
Influencers are then paid for making a certain number of sales. If they are at the top of the leadership board of sellers then can qualify for bonuses worth up to thousands of pounds.
One creator, Dr Carolina Are has used the platform since 2020 to sell goods, however has since abandoned it after making a video to sell socks attracted 50,000 viewers. The video platform failed to pay out on the video.
“I started using TikTok because it helped me grow massively. I was curious to see if the Shop platform would be more lucrative for creators showing nudity, so I tried it to see if I could advertise things that were relevant to my viewers,” she told the Financial Times.
The products she was asked to sell on the e-commerce platform were “cheap or low-quality stuff, or things that I would have struggled to sell while not looking like someone who would flog anything,” she added.
“I do not think TikTok treats its creators well, particularly those who they see as on the “borderline” of their community guidelines, like me. Our views have massively fallen as a result of their TikTok moderation, so we don’t make money from the creator fund.
“I speak to platforms on both an academic and a creator basis, but TikTok just refuses to engage on this. More transparency from platforms is needed, and they need more human content moderators with nuance to understand what people are doing.”
A TikTok spokesperson responded by saying: “The TikTok community is redefining shopping culture, and we’ve seen the positive impact on small businesses which have grown revenues, larger brands which have reached new audiences, and individuals who have launched careers.
“We are committed to learning, growing and improving as we build commerce solutions that bring value to merchants, creators and our community across the UK.”