• Patricia Tiscareno

#SaveTikTok: Time is Ticking for TikTokers as a Possible Ban is Near

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

If you’re like us, isolation and social distancing have us traveling from one social media app to another in order to stay connected. One of the apps we can’t stay off is TikTok, the latest social media sensation with over 2 billion downloads worldwide.

The video-sharing platform is known for viral dance videos, comedy, tutorials, and DIYs. TikTok gained major momentum during quarantine and became a big part of people’s lives. After all, scrolling endlessly through 'homemade' videos is the closest thing to experiencing real interactions while social distancing.

The TikTok Ban

As TikTok is growing, so are national security concerns about privacy infringement. The platform is owned by Byte Dance, a Chinese multinational internet technology company. It’s reported that the Trump administration is looking into banning TikTok after allegations that the app collects user data.

Countries such as India and Australia officially banned TikTok this year. Could the U.S be next? There’s a lot of confusion about what will happen if the app gets banned. This is where geopolitics comes into play. Because India and the United States have incentives to stick it to China any way they can right now, they're doing anything in their power to do so, even if it means taking out Chinese-owned businesses.

This has been an ongoing battle since the beginning of COVID-19, with administrations like Trump often pinning the blame on China for the outbreak. So, if you suspected foul play here, you wouldn't be completely wrong.

Let's dive into the two groups of people who are most likely to feel the hit of the TikTok ban: Brands and Influencers.

Brands Forced to Make Big Decisions

TikTok released a statement in late June that the company representatives were set to meet government officials to clear their stand on the ban. Soon after, advertising and marketing agencies paused their brand campaigns on the platform.

TikTok's ad rates were more economical than mature platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, making it prime space for sponsored posts. Big brands like Puma and Pepsi were among others that witnessed a 50% growth in ad revenue in the past year. It also offered high engagement through user-generated content (UGC). Trust us, if you ever scrolled past a TikTok ad, sometimes you wouldn't even realize it was an ad.

Many brands have since moved to alternate platforms, but are finding it difficult to get a complete replacement for TikTok. This might mean using more than one platform to make up a fraction of what they're losing.

The ban also calls for brands to rethink their influencer marketing strategies as a whole. This isn't so bad as they will continue to follow where the hype is, whether it be the next big social network or switching gears back to old tactics. Either way, it will be lesser of an impact on brands and more on the content creators who were only present on TikTok.

Influencers Are Forced to Make Even Bigger Decisions

TikTok birthed a new generation of influencers that used the app for creative expression and human connection. These influencers created mass followings and gained celebrity stardom very quickly, with TikTokers like Charli D'Amelio and Jason Derulo coming to mind. These individuals now represent brands and are managed by talent agencies.

However, their beloved TikTok communities might soon be a thing of the past. For all we know, they might wake up tomorrow and have no access to the app or their account.

Many influencers feel that if TikTok gets banned a part of their lives will be taken away because of the time they invested in the app. Some who have been a part of it since 2016 and before that when the app was Musical.ly. For others, it means losing their livelihood if they depend on a revenue stream from sponsors who pay for them to post content.

Needless to say, the potential ban has led TikTokers scavenging to save their online community. Influencers flooded the internet with #SaveTikTok, as they advocated that the app represented freedom of speech. Some even uploaded their last TikTok videos asking their followers to follow them on rival apps like Dubsmash, another video-sharing app, and Byte, a short-form video app created by Dom Hoffman, one of the Vine founders.

As these uncertain times continue, TikTokers are venturing into other platforms planning to transfer their communities with them. This 'shift' has taught influencers the importance of diversifying their social media platforms. You'll continue seeing many of them pop up on other social media platforms like Snapchat and YouTube, to keep their influence alive.

All this to say that it’s uncertain if and when TikTok will get banned in the U.S. Regardless, some brands are still utilizing the platform for their marketing strategies by running ads and many TikTokers continue to push out content, despite all that is happening. We for one are TikTok fanatics and truly hope that the platform is here to stay!

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