A Marketer’s Guide to Navigating the Uncertainty of Tiktok’s Potential Ban

By Amy Gilbert, VP of Social Innovation at Social Element

The buzz around a potential TikTok ban has been impossible to ignore. It’s a topic that’s not only trending in boardrooms and chat threads, but also shaping the conversations we have with our clients.

As readers are probably aware, President Biden signed a ‘TikTok ban bill’ into law in April, requiring ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, to sell TikTok within nine months (or a year, if Biden invokes a 90-day extension) or face a nationwide ban in the U.S.

Firstly, we must recognize that TikTok has revolutionized the way we create and consume content. It’s ramped up the speed of cultural trends and changed how brands can capture their audience’s attention.

Numbers paint a vivid picture. TikTok’s dazzling roster boasts over 1.5B users worldwide, with a sweet spot in the younger age groups, yet with active users spanning across all generations. Stateside, it’s a hit with over 150M folks scrolling and swiping for an average of 53.8 minutes a day.

But with the threat of a potential ban getting closer, marketers are necessarily seeking guidance in these uncertain times.

So the question floating around everyone’s mind is: What should marketers do while the fate of TikTok hangs in the balance?

With that in mind, here are five strategic recommendations as we hope for a favorable outcome, but prepare for various scenarios.

1. Hold steady.

Before making any rash decisions related to abandoning your TikTok campaigns or communities, consider the broader picture. Legal proceedings are underway that could challenge the ban, and should it move forward, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has up to a year to negotiate a sale. This gives us a critical period to observe and plan, rather than react in haste.

2. Community engagement.

Continue to nurture the relationships you’ve built on TikTok. Your audience’s loyalty isn’t platform-dependent; it’s the result of the value and engagement you’ve consistently provided. Keep the conversation going and be present where your community congregates.

3. Explore alternatives (just in case).

Now is the time to experiment with other short-form video platforms such as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. These platforms are gaining traction and could serve as viable alternatives should TikTok become unavailable.

4. Back up your assets (it’s always a good idea, anyway).

As a safeguard, download and archive your TikTok content. This ensures that the creative efforts you’ve invested in the platform aren’t lost but can be repurposed or adapted for use on other channels.

5. Broaden your influencer network.

If influencer partnerships are a cornerstone of your strategy, start scouting for influencers who have a diversified platform presence. This will fortify your campaigns against platform-specific disruptions.

If TikTok gets banned, it all seems to indicate that users will spend more time on Instagram and YouTube. And even if the short-form giant disappears, its impact on our social media habits will continue through features like Reels and Shorts. Again, that’s a reminder of the importance of diversifying our marketing efforts beyond TikTok.

Please keep an open mind.

So while uncertainty weighs on the brain, marketers must remain adaptable and continue to monitor the situation closely. Even if this situation doesn’t escalate further, the possibility of a TikTok ban challenges us to think creatively, explore alternatives, and stay resilient.