TikTok for affiliates: how to keep your content safe and effective

| By contenteditor
The channel’s original youthful demographic means that gambling content is understandably subject to stringent restrictions. However, its algorithm favouring quality over having a large following means TikTok is well worth affiliates’ attention, writes Sharon McFarlane

Igaming marketers have a few challenges to face when it comes to compliance restrictions surrounding advertising and content generation in social media. But as with all challenges, it creates an opportunity. An opportunity for affiliates to be more innovative and creative in their approach to marketing.  

With over a billion users, TikTok is one of the largest media platforms available to marketers. Although it may be easier for other industries to break through on this channel due to regulations and restrictions, that does not mean that there is no room for affiliates to make their mark and build their brand on TikTok.  

Here, we discuss the challenges associated with TikTok, the restrictions that affiliates face, how to keep their content safe – and some creative ways to market.  

Ad restrictions and policies

It is important to understand TikTok’s roots. It was originally a platform aimed at a much younger audience and used to share dancing videos, challenges and the like. As such, even though the demographic of its users on this platform are ageing along with the app itself, the restrictions on what can and cannot be viewed are fairly stringent. There is an extensive list of prohibited products when it comes to advertising and, as you would expect, gambling is one of them. 

The policies from TikTok state that the “promotion, sale, solicitation of, or facilitation of access to casinos, gambling activities, sports betting, fantasy sports, lotteries, whether it’s an online or land-based establishment, where there is money cashing in and out is prohibited.” On top of this vouchers, coupons, websites, software, games of luck or chance, and tools of igaming marketing are all prohibited by the platform. 

Ban on affiliate links in TikTok content

Perhaps most damaging to affiliates, TikTok has banned affiliate links. This does not mean that affiliates cannot use the platform as part of their marketing, but it does mean they cannot link directly from this channel to the operators they are receiving commission from.

No such links can be posted anywhere within the content, including the video and captions. There is also no “swipe up” as is the case on Instagram Stories. Instead, for now any TikTokers taking up TikTok affiliate marketing deals are asking their viewers to go into their profile, click the link to their Linktree and find their affiliate code there. 

It is a longwinded way of doing things, one that a lot of users might not be a fan of. Social media users, particularly short-form video content absorbers like those on TikTok, have famously short attention spans. Clicking three things, possibly more, might cause them to lose interest long before they get to the affiliate link. 

Keeping content compliant and safe

So, what should affiliates be doing to make sure their content stays up? The good news is that TikTok has put a lot of great functionality in place to protect both a younger audience and creators. Users under the age of 18 are only allowed to view TikTok on safe mode. This means that any content deemed inappropriate for that age group would not show up on their For You or Recommended page. TikTok also makes it difficult for users to change their age on the platform.  

There is nowhere in settings to change one’s date of birth – the date provided when a user signs up remains on their profile unless a new account is created. This means should a user want to view more adult-related content, they would need to contact customer support and prove they are over the age of 18. 

What first steps can affiliates take by themselves? First they need to pay close attention to the community guidelines set out by TikTok. This includes: “We do not allow content promoting gambling services, or that could be perceived as advertising for casinos, sports betting, or any other commercial gambling activity.” 

Again, this can feel quite limiting. To not be clear that gambling is the content being promoted can cause you to fail compliancy acts due to false advertising and might negatively affect your brand. 

Innovative ways affiliates can market

Not all is lost on TikTok when it comes to gambling content, however. There are regulations, yes, but gambling, casino games, sports, and esports are all valid topics of conversation. Just because the promotion of gambling is prohibited doesn’t mean talking about anything to do with gaming, esports teams and the games they play, professional poker players, strategy chat, fantasy sports, etc is outlawed. Similarly, ‘how-to manuals’ are also permitted.

Aim for knowledge rather than promotion and you can reach the audience you are interested in. They, in turn, will be presented with content that they are interested in thanks to the genius TikTok algorithm.  

And there are a lot of ways you can go about this, including:

  • Live streams. A lot of TikTokers are taking to the live streaming aspect of TikTok. There is already a thriving streaming community on Twitch, so it makes sense for affiliates already on this platform to simply set up live streaming on their phone alongside their Twitch and YouTube setup and watch the live audience pour in. On Twitch, for example, “slots” is the second most popular category so it is clear there is an appetite among users for this type of stream. You can live stream playing slots on demo play, share opinions with contributors on the latest game releases and give your audience tips and tricks.  

Not only can your affiliates spend their time entertaining audience members, but there is also the option to record the stream and cut it up into highlights. These will do very well in a short-form video format like, say, the format of TikTok.  

  • News and insights. For more snippet ideas, your igaming content can focus on news. There is no promotion there, merely the sharing of information. As long as your ‘news’ doesn’t masquerade as ‘this online casino has a new deal to offer players’, you can talk about igaming all you want and keep your users informed.  

Tell them what is happening in the latest esports tournament, or the latest NFL season. Sports commentators is a massive genre that you can infiltrate with an affiliate partner or two. Show them what the big events are in professional poker, what the latest and biggest events in Vegas are, what the most impressive stories from their favourite sports and games are, etc.  

  • Tailor your content to the location and lifestyle. Then again, you do not have to make content around a certain topic at all. Lifestyle influencers are more common than influencers with a niche, and the benefit of them is they attract all sorts of people and all types of brand deals. As you grow your following, you will then get some more valuable data and insights into what other interest groups your audience may be a part of. Use this information and tailor the content to your audience. 
  • Partner with influencers and brand ambassadors. Use other people’s influence! Since there are tight restrictions associated with advertising guidelines, ensure you follow other creator accounts which can add value to your brand. Make sure you get some useful info/data from them in terms of geographic location, interests etc.  

Final thoughts

The reality is TikTok is a little more difficult to gain traction from than other channels due to their tight restrictions,  but the platform is worth using. Its algorithm is completely different in that you do not need a large following to become a success, simply good content.  


Sharon McFarlane
Sharon McFarlane
Sharon McFarlane is managing director at Glasgow-based Digital Footprints, a digital marketing agency specialising in content marketing, social media, UX design, website design, branding and conversion rate optimisation.

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

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