April 19, 2024 Chelsea Goodson

The On-Going Saga of the TikTok Ban

By: Charlie Brugnolotti

And just like that, we are looking at a TikTok ban again.

The US house of Representatives has tied a TikTok ban to Ukraine and Israel funding, making it more likely than ever that the ban WILL pass with the Senate aligned and President Biden indicating that he will sign it. ByteDance will have ONE year to sell off its interest in the company.

What does this mean for brands and influencers who have built a significant portion of their business around the platform? What does this mean for the 150 million Americans that use the app for news, entertainment, etc.?

For brands, it will likely mean pivoting the investment into META’s IG Reels or YouTube’s shorts. While some think that an alternative platform will emerge, I just don’t think that will happen any time soon.

TikTok blew up, and pulled customers in under the most extraordinary of circumstances during the pandemic. It became our window to the world, and the nature of the app facilitated almost a one to one conversation between citizens that will be VERY hard to replicate (never mind amassing such a large audience.)

As for pivoting investment to the other juggernauts, sure that’s the easy thing to do, but brands have to look at and understand how people consume those other platforms in order to best make use of them. For instance, most of the content I have seen in Shorts is clips of larger programs used for promotion, instead of the direct to camera chats that we often see on TikTok.

For influencers in the space for a very long time, platforms pulling the rug out from under them is nothing new (The government doing it here is a bit unique.) Heck, when I worked at Ora TV, we had a slew of political YouTubers who came to us because they wanted to hedge their bets against YouTube Red. Influencers who emerged during this TikTok boom need to encourage their followers to move with them to other platforms, which isn’t easy to do. They will also need to learn how to work with the algorithms on the other channels.

All and all this ban is a tad ridiculous, but now is the time to start proactively coming up with your plan B on either side of the coin.