Promoted posts on TikTok? Run away fools!

About two weeks ago I noticed that TikTok had enabled the ability to promote posts within the platform. It seemed like a relatively simple and straightforward system to reach more people. Especially considering that previously, being able to advertise on the platform was limited to only big budgets. So I wanted to do a little test and the results could not have been more disastrous. Read on and I’ll tell you why.

My idea was to promote a post with the latest Mark of Odin spot that I’ve been using on Facebook / Instagram, to promote the Collector’s Trilogy Pack. You can see it in the following tweet.


A promising start

At first glance, the new system seems very simple and straightforward. From the same mobile App you can do everything. You choose the publication that you have made to promote and you only have to choose a few options to configure the campaign.

At the moment, the platform allows you to:

  • Let the TikTok algorithm choose your audience
  • You choose between location, age, gender and a single interest from a fairly limited list of options. I would have wanted to choose the interest of books, but the closest thing to my audience was that of video games. So I selected that
  • Then choose a total/daily budget and the duration of the promotion.

Ok, by here all is normal. Very similar to quick post promotions on Facebook.

The problems begin

Once the campaign is configured, it is time to pay and here comes the first surprise. TikTok forces you to buy their coins in order to make the payment. And here comes the first big negative point. For the test I wanted to do, I needed 1,400 coins, the equivalent of €16.7 according to TikTok. Now, when I go to buy coins and I am sent to the Google Play payment gateway, the amount increases without warning to €24.65.

Nowhere does TikTok notify you of this additional cost or inform you that if you buy coins in the web based site, it does not exist. Resigned, I have made the payment, I make a claim and proceed to do the test.

I start a post promotion

On August 17 I make the publication and start the promotion that you can see below:


¿Imaginas una saga literaria que mezcle actualidad, mitología nórdica y ciencia ficción en España? ¡Deja de imaginar y sorpréndete ya con el Pack!

♬ sonido original – LaMarcadeOdin

In one day the publication receives 5644 views and 906 likes. According to TikTok, it generates more than 150 clicks on the purchase link that redirects to the Mark of Odin store. Although according to Google Analytics, only 22 clicks arrive with an average duration of stay on the web of 1 second and a rebound of 90%. By this alone one has indications that they are not interesting results, compared to what I get from other platforms. But, of course, it is only a day and a half, it is normal that more days are needed to see more realistic results.

TikTok cancels the promotion

When I’m less than two days into the promotion, I get a notification from TikTok that the promotion has been canceled as the destination link violates the terms of the ads. Specifically, that it lacks basic information for users (who owns the website, how are shipments, prices, etc.). They just say “The landing page does not include enough information”.

Obviously, I check everything and verify that it is not so. That I do not breach, apparently, any of the requirements that they specify in their terms.

For now I see myself unable to do the test I wanted and not without the money spent, when buying the coins and using them in the campaign they have “flown”.

Awful customer service

I proceed to open a claim, in which I attach screenshots of the landing page, indicating the location of the information they claim. It was August 19. I decided to also create a thread with this story on Twitter, mentioning TikTok Spain, to see if there is at least someone there doing their job as Community Manager. (As of today it seems not, he/she must be on vacation).

Several days later I finally receive a response with a default text that ignores my claims, but tells me that I will receive a refund of the difference of unused coins to be able to use them in a future promotion. I respond by requesting that they respond to the claim I have made or, otherwise, I will understand that it is a scam and request a refund directly from Google Play.

On August 25, they answer me again with another default text in which they assure that I will receive the refund of the coins in 20 minutes, ignoring my previous requests. Well, as of August 29, there’s still no trace of the coins reimbursement. I answer them again, waiting for both said refund and an explanation of the reason why the landing page is not accepted. Unanswered.

Google Play automatically rejects my refund request. So I have no choice but to give up the small investment for this test.

Conclusions of a bad investment

From what I’ve seen, I can’t recommend anyone to use TikTok’s post promotion system.

  • Mandatory payment through TikTok coins
  • Lack of information about the promotion review process
  • Customer service (human) does not exist
  • By purchasing TikTok Coins you have no guarantee that you will be able to use them or recover your investment in the event of a reject by TikTok
  • Very poor performance in the test (although it was only a day and a half and about €6 cost). Many views, but low quality of visits and zero ROI

It’s a shame, since TikTok is a growing platform, with great potential for organic reach, which makes it very interesting. Obviously, none of that makes up for a system clearly designed to steal/scam money from small advertisers coupled with conspicuous lack of community management and customer support.

I may have been very unlucky and the only one with such an experience, but I can only speak from what I have seen. So for the moment, this is my verdict: Do not even think of putting a single euro in the promoted publications, unless you are 100% clear.


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August 2022