Online Marketing May 29, 2024

TikTok Ban in the US: What Impact Will it Have?

Writen by rawal

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The potential TikTok ban in the United States has a lot of implications for the digital marketing and social media community. As the fastest-growing social media app in decades, Bytedance is in the crosshairs of the white house and Congress. Let’s look at what the ban actually is, what TikTok can do, and what the marketing implications of such an embargo are.

Did TikTok Get Banned?

TikTok ban in the US

No, TikTok has not yet been banned. It’s important to keep in mind, that even when legislation passes, such a sweeping ban will take at least 2 years to actually be implemented in any meaningful way. Banning TikTok will take time and there are ways Bytedance can avoid a ban e.g., disassociating their business from China and setting up a US branch of the platform.

The initial proposal mandated ByteDance to divest its U.S. subsidiary within six months, which was extended to nine months during negotiations. Furthermore, if the sale process is underway, an additional three months will be granted for completion. Consequently, it could be at least a year before any ban is implemented, with the possibility of further delays due to potential legal challenges, possibly extending to several years. TikTok has previously had success with legal challenges, but it has not attempted to block federal legislation before.

For users, the policy has little bearing in the short term. However, businesses that had long-term strategies may have to come up with a plan B. Many US journalistic platforms have been utilising TikTok as a means of delivering clips and news. This may cause a pivot towards YouTube Shorts, but this may not have the same impact as TikTok. The user demographics and marketing trends on YouTube are very different, especially when it pertains to Gen Z.

Is TikTok Getting Banned For Everyone?

No. The US cannot ensure a blanket ban of TikTok outside its remit without the assistance of other governments. Other governments do not have to comply with the US policy. TikTok users in other regions need not worry anytime soon. The ban, if it goes through, may embolden other governments but that is yet to be determined.

This is not to say, outside entities won’t be affected. Amidst many different socio-political issues in the US, TikTok has been a crucial source of information. In one sense, the impact of losing one of the largest countries in the world is a blow to everyone as so much potential information will be blocked off behind an insulating firewall.

The US is a major information and media hub for many countries. Companies will have to adjust their TikTok strategies to better suit these new market restrictions and many content creators within the country will have to pivot to other media to communicate with a global audience.

Even if a ban eventually takes effect, TikTok, with over 170 million American users, is unlikely to vanish from existing devices. However, it would be removed from Apple and Google’s app stores, preventing new downloads. This absence would also mean no updates, security fixes, or patches, eventually rendering the app unusable and posing security risks.

Marketing After TikTok Ban in US Territories

It needs to be stated that a lot of the following section is speculative since the ban has not taken place. While the bills have been signed as of April, many things could change in the future.

For marketing professionals in the US, there will be an adjustment period. TikTok has not had market saturation among companies, so it won’t be the biggest loss as compared to losing the established giants that most companies use more often. Google and Facebook are still far bigger than TikTok but the former covers a very different audience-base and the latter has been waning in the youth demographic for years.

Another potential issue this raises is that there may be a wider crackdown on Chinese companies. If that is the case, other Chinese firms may feel less comfortable operating in the region. While social media is banned in China, many of their eCommerce stores and advertisers tend to use US platforms.

Implications For Social Media Companies

As TikTok is banned, social media companies might be able to pick up the slack. Other companies may profit in the meantime filling in the gap with their own services. TikTok is a Gen-Z goldmine and is a fast-acting platform with a lot of potential profitability. Over the years, platforms have been attempting to copy TikTok’s format, with functionalities like YouTube Shorts. These competitor services could become viable alternatives.

However, the potential of a ban has other implications within the digital communications landscape. The spectre of a ban on social media is a dangerous precedent for the future. Other companies may feel compelled to play by a stricter set of rules within the US market. Companies within the country will have less to fear but outside entities may become more cautious.

That said, as mentioned earlier, TikTok won’t simply disappear. Many users may access it via VPNs and continue to use it through other means. Whether it will still have the same power as a vehicle for digital marketing is uncertain, but companies nothing in the ban outlaws marketers from advertising on it.

The ban may not even go through. Bytedance still has time to adjust and they may choose to, depending on how lucrative they find the US market. While it is a major region, the company has no obligation to comply with these demands. Similarly, pressure from China is also a factor.

We’ll have to see how these policies develop in the future.