What’s Next for TikTok? HOW’s Take for Marketers

On Wednesday, March 13th, The US House of Representatives voted to ban the app in the U.S. if its Chinese-based owner ByteDance doesn’t sell the platform within six months.

  • TikTok has already laid the groundwork for US ownership with “Project Texas” (moving US data to Oracle with plan to store all US user data in the US) – the platform appears well positioned to have a turnkey solution to continue operating as a US business if a ban goes through

The Reaction

In addition to political lobbying, TikTok is rallying its 170 million users / small businesses to lobby for the app, citing stats like $20 million dollars that will be paid to US based creators in 2024 alone.

What’s Next?

Given the app’s popularity and financial benefit for businesses and creators, it is likely that, if passed, a ban would not shut down the app immediately and could take up to 6 months to be operationalized. During that time, it’s highly likely the ban would be lobbied against an appealed – making any ban likely temporary

So, What does this Mean for Marketers?

We’ve Said it Before and We’ll Say it Again

Ultimately – and as a guiding principle for all social campaigns – the goal is to meet and engage with a brand’s community where they are. To prepare for a potential, even likely temporary ban, brands should prepare to be able to shift content and cadence to Meta platforms where users will naturally flood in the absence of TikTok. As this situation plays out, now is a good time to increase testing and learning on those platforms so that, if a potential shift is necessary, they are prepared to embrace their audience once user behavior swings away from TikTok. 

  • It’s likely that content creators will also begin this process to prepare for a potential disruption in connecting with their audiences on TikTok (and thus a loss of revenue), brands would be wise to monitor popular creators and if/how they are activating their follower bases to meet them on other platforms and how they are shifting content styles to meet the needs of different platforms while maintaining their brand authenticity.

Some Key Takeaways

Is “Diversify with Me” the new “GRWM”?

 Moving audiences is a much easier task for mega influencers than mid- and micro- influencers, these will be the ones to watch in how they get creative in shifting their audiences to meet them on other platforms.

The Era of Creators in the Wild?

The platform could be gone but the audiences are not – even if they can’t tune into the app to see their favorite influencer, fans will still be eager to follow their trusted personalities. Marketers should explore ways to work with TikTok creators in campaigns that include other marketing channels. The value of a popular creator can reach audiences across campaigns that include email, events, out of home and beyond.

Watch this Space

With Meta standing to benefit from ad dollars being shifted away from TikTok to platforms like Instagram, will there be (likely unannounced) shifts in the algorithm to allow TikTok first creators to build large audiences on that platform? Certainly one to keep an eye on.