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Ever since quarantine started, TikTok has become the choice social media app for entertainment. Although it is not as bombarded with advertisements as other platforms like Facebook and Instagram, every now and then a cool product will pop up on your feed. TikTok’s feed consists of two separate pages, one which shows videos from the accounts you follow called “Following.” The second one is called the “For You” page, in which the app’s algorithm provides you a selection of videos based on other videos you’ve liked, accounts you follow, and overall trends. Curious about how well TikTok actually knew my preferences, I decided to take a page from my favorite YouTuber Safiya Nygard and buy the first three things TikTok showed me.  

It was not a quick process; I had to scroll through for an hour before the first product appeared. I quickly realized that in order to be able to afford and review them, each one of the products could not cost more than $20. 

The first product was fortunately within my price range and perfect for the season. I was not surprised by this product appearing on my feed as I follow some doggy accounts and get a good amount of dog-related content on my feed every day. They were doggy glasses from The Paw Wag Company, and each frame costs around $12.99. I was really excited about this purchase as I had been searching for Harry Potter inspired doggy costumes for Halloween; I purchased the Round Glasses in Black. They came in perfect condition and arrived on the estimated arrival date. The glasses fit my dog perfectly and came with a connector to adjust in the back to help them stay on. Overall, I would give them a 9/10 because they are not made of the strongest material, so if your dog is as energetic as mine they could break in seconds. 

After this no other products popped up on my feed, I scrolled for almost two more hours and nothing. I decided to close the app and try again the next day. This is when things actually got interesting. As soon as I opened my feed, I was shown quite a few videos that included product placement. They were not videos directly promoting or reviewing a specific product, but the videos were shaped to highlight and draw attention to the product. Unfortunately, most of those products were well above my price range or were not available to ship to Puerto Rico.  

In the midst of all that, I found the next product to buy: Serendipity’s Nail Dip Kit. The kit includes three powders each a different color, an instant activator, a bonding gloss, a brush cleaner, and a nail file. I was  pretty surprised this product popped up as I don’t particularly search for any nail related products or content on any platform. Nevertheless, I was pretty excited to try it out. I actually found the exact Nail Dip Kit at my local Walmart for about $23. Although it was a little out of my price range, it seemed worth it for the amount of use I would get out of it. I have been using it for the past month and it has been incredible. It is extremely easy to use; you can finish with a simple five step process in under ten minutes. My nails last for about 20 days and look just like I got them in the nail salon. Overall, I would recommend them and give them a 10/10. 

The last product was the Mini Carmex Variety Pack. It cost me $7.99 plus shipping and it can be found on Amazon. It consists of 5 mini tubes of Carmex, each a different flavor which, for those unfamiliar with them, are moisturizing lip balms. I am a daily lip balm user but had never tried out this brand before. The product worked great, but for the most part it did not do anything different than the lip balm I already use. I would give it a 7/10 because the product ended up being much more expensive than advertised, and the continuous reapplication meant they did not last as long. Shipping  ended up being $6.99 which is almost as much as the actual product price. When I checked at the local stores, none of them had this specific Mini Carmex Variety Pack because either they did not supply them or they had run out of it. 

This was a very interesting experience as I would not have bought most of these products if not shown to me on TikTok. They weren’t necessarily catered to my shopping preferences, but more to my gender and the accounts I followed. This system is much more different than the advertisement system used by Facebook and Instagram, where once you click on one type of product, for example makeup, the rest of the ads shown for the next few weeks are solely makeup based. TikTok’s advertisement system is still not as developed as other platforms, and it will be very interesting to see what it becomes in the future. 

Third year student at UPRM currently working on a psychology bachelor.
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