Since it rose to popularity in 2020, TikTok has become the epicenter of modern culture. The threat of a TikTok ban and losing this vital pathway to consumer insight and attention is making marketers dizzy trying to understand the implications for their businesses.
Our digital team is closely following the shifting social landscape and advising clients in real time how to address the uncertainty of TikTok. From what to do today to long-term contingency plans, we’re sharing the most critical considerations your marcom team needs to know.
But First, Why a TikTok Ban Matters:
Why are marketing teams frantic over TikTok turmoil? While it’s a new social platform, relatively speaking, it’s had a huge impact on the business of marketing.
- It is the #1 platform for reaching a younger demographic (Gen Z, Millennials.) 71.3% of all adult TikTok users are between the ages of 18 to 34.
- It has quickly become a popular search platform for Gen Z. Many brands, especially small businesses, benefit greatly from TikTok’s organic discovery capabilities.
- Need to reach a niche audience? No other social platform has created tight-knit communities the way TikTok has. From #BookTok to #CleanTok, there’s a home for every user…and a gateway for every type of marketer.
- Any action, whether a ban or something softer, could set a precedent for all social media platforms. Many are proposing the U.S. pass legislation that is similar to the E.U’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), rather than an outright ban. This could mean more challenges for social marketers in the future.
Do I Need to Scrap My 2023 Plans and Spend on TikTok?
No. Whether you’re dabbling or are all-in on TikTok, you don’t need to halt activity on the app. You do, however, need to diversify your organic and paid marketing mix. To start:
- Be sure you are posting content across platforms.
- If you aren’t already, make an extra effort to nurture your other social communities. Don’t put all your (community) eggs into one basket (TikTok).
- Spread your paid dollars across other platforms. Fine-tuning your ads and optimizing for any given platform’s algorithm takes time to scale. Optimize now to alleviate a potential downturn from a ban.
Where Should I Focus My Social Efforts Today to Prepare for a Potential Ban?
While we recommend your brand be active across channels, two mediums to play close attention to are Meta’s Reels and YouTube Shorts. These mediums are the most similar to TikTok and are already popular but will skyrocket in usage if a TikTok ban is put into action.
- Plays of Meta’s Reels “have more than doubled over the last year,” according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg
- Google announced YouTube shorts passed 50 billion daily views in February 2023.
- After India banned TikTok in 2020, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts both shot up in popularity.
If TikTok is banned, we predict new apps will emerge that will try to replicate TikTok’s success. But in the near future, we expect users to spend more time on existing platforms so it’s worthwhile to make sure your team is optimizing for what’s available currently.
How Do I Preserve the Progress We’ve Made On TikTok?
If TikTok disappears, your followers, content, and engagement will too. If it isn’t clear already – you don’t own your social channels.
The best thing you can do in terms of preservation is to bring your audience into actual owned channels.
- Create an enticing offer for email or SMS capture. If a ban occurs, you’ll have a medium to point users where to go next.
- Invest in search ads and bring users to your website. How are people finding you on TikTok? Now is a great time to test your TikTok insights and keywords and see how effectively you can be discovered through Google.
Help! My Influencer Program Primarily Lives on TikTok
Don’t fret. In the short-term, begin negotiating for content on other channels. We recommend doing this now where creators may be more flexible as they look to safeguard their careers.
Looking ahead, focus on investing in influencers with strong staying power. Meaning, they have a brand outside of TikTok. This could look like:
- A strong following across multiple platforms
- A robust email subscriber list, Facebook group, or other closed-loop network
- A highly ranked website with considerable monthly traffic
- A jam-packed media resume, showing they’re an authority figure in their realm
We’ll continue to monitor U.S. & TikTok relations and provide strategic counsel on how to maximize social marketing efforts as new developments occur. Need advice on how to diversify your social media content? How to launch on new channels? How to turn social followers into business dollars? Send us a note.
Hayley Reissfelder is a Manager of Digital + Content at CerconeBrown.