US TikTok Ban Bill: What a Ban Could Mean For Your Brand

Mar 14, 2024

Chances are, you’ve already heard a lot about the TikTok ban bill that’s making its way through U.S. Congress currently. Formally known as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, the bill was just passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 352-65. It’s now set to head to the Senate for review, although there doesn’t seem to be a clear timeline on when that will happen at the time that we’re writing this.

So what the heck is the TikTok ban bill that everyone’s been buzzing about, and how might this affect your marketing strategy? We’ll break it down for you!

If Passed, What Exactly Would the TikTok Ban Bill Entail?

To put it in more digestible terms, the TikTok ban bill would stop foreign-controlled apps like TikTok from being distributed, maintained, or hosted on U.S.-based internet platforms (like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store) if the President determines those apps pose a threat to national security in terms of how they collect user data. However, if the app goes through a process called “qualified divestiture” – meaning the foreign owner of the app would have to sell its stakes to a U.S.-based company – that app would then be exempt from the ban, and therefore would be accessible from within the United States.

In TikTok’s case, the bill would require China-based parent company ByteDance to sell its operations to a U.S.-based firm within six months of the passage of the bill for TikTok to continue operating in the country without facing restrictions. As of now, there’s no clear indicator that ByteDance has any interest in doing so – and even if they did, the Chinese government would likely intervene and block the sale. So if the TikTok ban bill does indeed pass, the platform that has become a staple marketing channel for so many brands could be banned in the United States as early as September.

If you’re one of those aforementioned brands, or if you’re wondering what impact this may have on the “bigger picture” in terms of digital marketing – and most of all, how your brand can navigate this potential shift as smoothly as possible – read on for more insight.

How Could a TikTok Ban Affect the Digital Marketing Space?

With over 750 million daily users spending an average of over 1.5 hours per day on TikTok, it’s pretty clear that a nationwide ban on the platform would have a massive impact on the world of digital marketing. From TikTok users of different generations heading in different directions, to brands needing to reevaluate their marketing strategies and approaches, the effects on the digital marketing sphere could take shape in various ways.

Displacement of Millennial, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha Audiences

The potential ban of TikTok would cause millions of Millennial, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha users, who are currently the platform’s three most active demographics (with Gen Z coming in at #1, making up a whopping 60% of TikTok users), to shift their attention to other social media channels. Brands who cater to those audiences and currently market heavily on TikTok would need to reassess their marketing strategies based on where their audience moves. The ban would likely cause a disbursement of users across different platforms; for example, Millennial TikTok users may revert their attention back to Instagram and even Facebook more heavily, while Gen Z and older members of Gen Alpha could frequent Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube more often. Not only that, but it’s not unlikely that a ban on TikTok could inspire new social media platforms to pop up in its place.

Pro-tip: If a TikTok ban does in fact happen, keep a close eye on digital marketing trends over the next six months to figure out what other channels ex-TikTok users end up migrating to or spending more of their time on.

Intensified Competition Across Other Social Media Channels

Another potential effect of a TikTok ban? An even fiercer competition between brands to grab audiences’ attention on established marketing channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Deprived of TikTok’s distinct user base and platform functionalities, brands would need to redirect (and re-optimize) their marketing efforts and budgets to other platforms. The influx of additional marketing content onto already-saturated channels could result in heightened competition for visibility & engagement – a lack of which has already been a pretty common complaint for Instagram in the last year. The increased competition may make it more challenging for brands to stand out amidst the noise and grab the attention of their target audience – meaning marketing teams would need to employ creative strategies to push out even more compelling content that can cut through the clutter and effectively engage audiences on these platforms.

Pro-tip: Perform a thorough marketing strategy audit to pinpoint what content is resonating with your audience. Then, explore ways that you can repurpose that content* by simply putting a fresh spin on it. Work smarter, not harder, duh.

(*Psst – that includes your TikTok content! We recommend downloading all of your TikTok videos ASAP for possible repurposing in the future if you don’t have them stored in your content bank already.)

A Shift in Influencer Marketing Strategies

Banning TikTok could also cause a noticeable shift in the realm of influencer marketing. A majority of the influencers that have gained popularity over the last few years have nurtured their brands and audiences predominantly on TikTok, which has played a major role in the marketing strategies of brands with audiences in the Gen Z and Millennial demographics. Should a TikTok ban actually happen and those influencers lose a sizable chunk of their audience, brands may need to reevaluate their influencer partnerships and approaches. This would mean paying close attention to how effectively influencers can migrate (or have already migrated) their TikTok followers to other platforms, and potentially redirecting focus to influencers who’ve already built a strong presence elsewhere.

That said, one digital marketing trend we’ve seen take shape in the last year is a rise in micro-influencers & UGC creators. More and more are brands choosing to work with influencers that have fewer followers – but closer, more authentic relationships with their followers – than their mega-influencer counterparts, as these creators tend to get higher engagement rates and can often produce a greater ROI. On the flip side, UGC creators provide brands with a seamless avenue to produce branded content for sharing across their marketing platforms, all without investing thousands in expensive photo & video shoots.

Pro-tip: With TikTok on the chopping block, there’s no better time than now to test out or lean further into different influencer marketing strategies than what’s been the norm in recent years.

How to Prepare Your Brand For a Possible TikTok Ban

Being a marketer means always being two steps ahead, and part of being two steps ahead is recognizing that all social media platforms are essentially “borrowed real estate” for your brand. Whether it’s through an unexpected ban on your brand’s individual account, or an all-encompassing ban like the one that’s being proposed for TikTok, your presence on a certain platform could be taken away at a moment’s notice – and your ability to connect with the audience you’ve built on that platform will disappear along with it.

So how can your brand prepare for a possible TikTok ban, and be proactive about similar scenarios that might happen in the future? Here’s a few tips!

Let Your Audience Know Where Else to Find You

In anticipation of a potential TikTok ban, it’s essential to start letting your audience know what other channels they can find you on now – and letting them know often. Be sure to plug your other social media channels, email list, and website in each TikTok video you post while we all await a decision on the future of the platform as it moves through Congress.

If you’ve been heavily focused on TikTok and haven’t been as present on your other marketing channels as a result, now’s the time to change that! Start reactivating or doubling down on your presence on your other social media platforms, sharing lots of valuable content so it gives your TikTok followers a reason to make the move.

Another thing to remember amidst all the ups & downs of social media is that, unlike your followers on those platforms, you actually own your email list – so take advantage of that by encouraging your audience to sign up. A great way to encourage your TikTok audience to migrate to your email list is by incentivizing sign-ups. If you’re a product-based brand, now is a great time to set up a discount code for those who opt in. For service-based businesses, consider creating a lead magnet, such as a free template or “how-to” guidebook.

Pro-tip: Make it as effortless as possible for your audience to connect with you elsewhere by adding your other social media channels, email list sign-up, and website to your TikTok bio link. Then, drop what you’re doing (yes, right now!) and go post a TikTok video that tells your audience what other channels they can find you on, encouraging them to connect via the link in your bio.

Reevaluate Your Marketing Strategy

As with any major shift in the marketing landscape, now is the time to reassess your marketing strategy and identify areas where TikTok’s potential absence may create gaps in your brand’s digital visibility and outreach efforts. As we mentioned earlier, a great starting point for optimizing your marketing strategy is performing a comprehensive audit. A marketing audit is a deep dive into the quantitative & qualitative aspects of your current marketing strategy, helping you understand how your brand is perceived and whether it’s generating the right attention from the right people.

Be sure to look at key metrics like engagement rates, conversion rates, and audience demographics to get a clear picture of your performance. If TikTok is a main source of engagement and website traffic, devise a plan you can put into action ASAP to diversify your efforts and mitigate the impact of a possible TikTok ban. Along with ramping up your efforts on your other existing marketing channels, consider experimenting with alternative or emerging platforms – but be strategic about it! Instead of hopping on another platform for the heck of it, conduct market research to figure out where else your target audience is (or may soon be) most active, and make sure to adapt your content strategy to resonate with the characteristics, features, and user behaviors of each platform.

Pro-tip: A lot of brand owners feel as though they’re “too close” to their brand to view it from an objective eye and optimize their marketing strategy accordingly. In the same boat? We’ve got your back. Check out our marketing consulting services and let us hash out all the deets for you.

Double Down on Your SEO Efforts

Between constant algorithm shifts, hours-long blackouts, and potential bans of entire platforms like TikTok, social media clearly poses its fair share of challenges for growing brands – most of which you have no control over. However, amidst these uncertainties, there’s one digital marketing strategy that remains constant: SEO. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) offers a more stable foundation for your brand’s online visibility, independent of the whims of social media algorithms or platform policies. Now, that’s not to say Google never updates its algorithm, because they’ve publicly shared that they do so several times a year (and have offered some insight on how those shifts can affect your search engine rankings). When it comes to SEO, though, we have a lot of clarity around what it takes to improve a website’s SEO standings in order to rank in Google search results.

Not only that, but studies have shown that nearly 40% of all website traffic generated across retail, travel & hospitality, professional services, and three other key industries is a result of organic search, and that organic search drives 1000% more website traffic than organic social. If those statistics don’t inspire you to take your website SEO seriously, we don’t know what will.

So, what’s one of the best ways to improve your search rankings and drive traffic to your website? Blogging! By building a blog marketing strategy incorporating SEO best practices, you can improve your website’s visibility and attract more organic traffic. Additionally, blogging allows you to showcase your brand’s personality, connect with your audience on a deeper level, and position your brand as a leader in your industry by providing accessible answers to your audience’s problems.

Pro-tip: A great way to get even more eyes on your brand’s blog content is by sharing it on Pinterest. In fact, Pinterest drives 33% higher referral traffic to e-commerce websites than Facebook! Don’t have time to add yet another platform to your marketing strategy? Leave the busy work to us.

Focus on Building Community

Out of all the tips and insights we can offer when it comes to navigating a possible TikTok ban, focusing on building and embracing your digital community is arguably the most valuable one. TikTok has become synonymous with authenticity, leading a shift that’s taken the content of brands, influencers, and audiences alike from “carefully curated” to “raw & unfiltered”. With authenticity comes relatability, and with relatability comes an opportunity to build a tight-knit community of brand loyalists who feel like you just get them – and want to stay tuned in to your every move as a result.

While we’ve seen this wave of authenticity somewhat make its way onto Instagram, the absence of TikTok would undoubtedly leave people craving the off-the-cuff content and casual banter that the platform has brought about these last few years.

That said, here’s a few tips on how you can strengthen your digital community and foster deeper connections with your audience:

  • Double down on engagement: Now more than ever, engaging with your audience authentically is a must. Create opportunities for engagement through posts, stories, and live videos. Respond to comments, messages, and inquiries promptly – and ditch the stale customer service voice. Your audience wants to feel like they’re interacting with a human, not a robot.

  • Encourage user-generated content: Empower your audience to show off their content creation abilities by encouraging them to share their stories, tutorials, experiences, and testimonials related to your brand, and make sure to share them. UGC fosters a sense of reliability among those who buy your products or services, in turn adding authenticity to your brand’s narrative.

  • Create exclusive content and offers: Reward your loyal followers with content, discounts, or offers that are exclusive to certain brand touch points, such as on your Instagram broadcast channel or within your email newsletters. People want to feel valued and appreciated, and when they do, they’ll keep coming back for more.

  • Humanize your brand: Your brand story matters – in fact, 86% of consumers cite brand authenticity as a factor in deciding what brands they like and follow. Rather than just showing up as a name and a logo selling a product, share stories about your brand’s journey, values, and the impact you’re striving to make within your space.

Plan For a Potential TikTok Ban

The thought of a TikTok ban can be frustrating, especially if you’ve put time, effort, and resources into building your brand’s presence on the platform – but you don’t have to navigate the ban alone.

At Sonder Social, we support women-led brands and female entrepreneurs in building an impactful digital presence across multiple marketing channels by creating attention-grabbing content, staying on top of digital marketing trends & best practices, and maximizing what makes your brand so unique.

So whether you need help migrating your TikTok videos to an internal content bank and onto other social media channels, are looking to refine your content strategy with expert consulting support, or want to take marketing off your plate entirely (at a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house team), we’ve got you covered! Click here to learn more about how we can support you.



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