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Pinterest, YouTube, & Tiktok Dive into Live Commerce

Pinterest, Tiktok, and YouTube have all launched live shopping programs. In this article, we'll take a look at which platform is best equipped to win in this space, and what this means for the future of live commerce.


Recently, we’ve seen large social platforms make big announcements in social commerce. Pinterest, Tiktok, and YouTube have all launched live shopping initiatives, in the face of Facebook’s recent decision to slash its live shopping program last month. So which social behemoth is right about this social commerce bust or boom?

Meta

On October 1st, Meta decided to deprecate it’s live shopping offering stating that “consumers’ viewing behaviors [had] shifted to short-form video” and that the company would focus on Instagram & Facebook reels. 

While we’ve seen this shift play out with the popularity of short form social platforms like Tiktok, both short form and long form content have their place in an effective content strategy. While short form grabs a viewers attention long enough to increase brand presence, long form is necessary to establish credibility and convince customers of your value add. 

Live shopping is interesting because it doesn’t fit neatly into the definitions of long or short form content. This is because live content retains the authenticity of long form content, but can be as short (as little as a few minutes) as short form content with its major use case being to establish credibility and create genuine connections with viewers. 

In the end, only time will tell if Meta has made the right decision in pulling back from social commerce. In the meantime, let’s dive into what Pinterest, Tiktok, and YouTube are doing with live shopping. 

Pinterest

Pinterest launched Pinterest TV as a series of live shows by known creators like Tom Daley and Manny Does. The videos will run Monday through Friday and content will be in categories like home, food, beauty, and fashion. The company stated that the program was intended to allow pinners to “engage in more immersive formats than ever before” with live chat functionality that allows viewers to engage with hosts in real time.“

Pinterest has always been an incredible resource for inspiration, and this move – to connect discovery to purchase – makes a lot of sense. Instead of just browsing, and then moving to a different platform for purchase, Pinterest wants users to make purchases in-app. 

In the coming months we’ll see how Pinterest TV unfolds, but shoppable live video seems like a solid move for a previously picture-driven, inspiration-heavy platform that’s looking to pivot.

Tiktok

While Tiktok Shop has been available in the UK and certain Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, this week Tiktok announced that it will start testing its live shopping platform in the US. Tiktok Shop will allow creators to sell products directly through videos and livestreams, and is sure to shake up the holiday shopping season. 

Supposedly this program is a part of a project called “Aquaman,” which seeks to turn the social platform into a commerce space where creators are not only key to product discovery, but also purchase. 

This comes as no surprise given that this form of commerce is already popular in the social platform’s native country, China, where live shopping is already a multibillion dollar business

Ultimately, this move is a test to see if the West will adopt live shopping as readily as the East. 

YouTube

YouTube announced that it will be hosting a series of live shopping events for the upcoming holiday season called Youtube Holiday Stream & Shop featuring creators like Gordan Ramsey, Mr. Beast, and Manny MUA. Livestreams will be shoppable, offer exclusive access to new products, and feature exclusive discounts. 

When asked why YouTube decided to jump into live shopping, Product Designer for YouTube Shopping Wendy Yang said that “people want to shop on YouTube [because] viewers agree that YouTube creators give recommendations they can trust”. 

In my opinion, viewers trust YouTube creators because long form content lends credibility to products. When thinking about who will be the winner, we have to think about YouTube’s long standing history of focusing on video-driven long form content compared with Tiktok’s short form video format and Pinterest’s largely photo driven platform. It’s here that YouTube clearly has the largest advantage when it comes to live shopping. 

Conclusion

Social behemoths like Pinterest, Tiktok, and YouTube have dove right into live commerce, suggesting a bright future for live shopping. While they all want a piece of the live shopping pie, who will win out in this space remains an unanswered question that only time will tell.

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