Are you tired of hearing about TikTok yet? From articles on how TikTok killed our attention span to the potential security threat leading to a ban in the US, the Chinese social media platform keeps making headlines. We already know about its growing impact on American businesses through its influencers and shopping features. Social commerce is growing year after year, and we can expect the trend to continue following the latest news: TikTok lowers the threshold for content creators to become affiliates. Let’s see what this is about and how it will impact brands and consumers.

TikTok Lowers the Threshold for Content Creators to Become Affiliates

Affiliate marketing on TikTok is a way for creators to promote a brand’s products and services on the platform in exchange for a commission or fee. By creating videos with affiliate links, affiliates can earn money by encouraging users to make purchases through those links. Until recently, content creators were required to have 5000 followers before they could earn money through the affiliate program. This threshold was recently reduced to 1000, giving access to the program to many more content creators.

We can speculate on why TikTok made this decision. My first guess is ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, believes they have reached enough engagement on TikTok that they can push social commerce further. The more products are sold through TikTok shops, the more commission the company earns. This can also attract more people to the platform, lowering the barrier to entry to start generating income. Another guess is that ByteDance believes that having more people depend on TikTok for their income, and giving brands more options to advertise their products, gives them more bargaining power in current lawsuits. It isn’t clear if TikTok will push more advertised and affiliate-related content to users’ feeds, but this may make getting impressions for existing affiliates more difficult.

What Does That Mean for Brands?

As reported in a case study in a Rankster article (linked below) involving over 100,000 affiliates contacted, only 0.67% responded. Even though we can observe wild disparities between categories, it is clear that finding affiliates to work with is a challenge for brands.


This change gives brands more affiliates to work with, even though they have fewer followers. It is possible that these smaller influencers will result in higher engagement rates. eMarketer has reported a much higher engagement rate with influencers with less than 50K followers compared to larger influencers.

Source: eMarketer

On the other hand, these new affiliates might be less “professional” than the larger ones and more difficult to work with. They could also create content that inadvertently conflicts with the brand’s interests and damages their image. And even though samples are typically inexpensive compared with the potential ROAS generated by affiliates, it may become more costly as brands work with affiliates with smaller audiences. Finally, if TikTok pushes more content created by affiliates to users’ feeds, these users will be overwhelmed with ads, making it more difficult for brands to get their attention. But we’ll have to wait and see how things turn out.


In conclusion, TikTok’s decision to lower the follower threshold for its affiliate program from 5000 to 1000 significantly broadens options for brands. This move is most likely intended to increase social commerce revenues and platform engagement. While brands can benefit from more affiliates to choose from and potentially higher engagement rates, they may also face challenges with less experienced influencers. The overall impact on user experience and competition will depend on how TikTok balances affiliate content.