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TikTok Ban or Bust?

Tiktoker recording videos with her smartphone

The momentum to remove TikTok from the country seems to be growing, following the House’s approval of a bill earlier this month. The bill mandates ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to divest its stake in the app or halt operations in the US. Despite creators’ discontent, if the bill becomes law, the process might extend over several months or even years.

For brands entrenched on the platform, the prevailing sentiment is one of caution and observation. Similar to creators’ sentiments from the past year, many brand marketers are monitoring Instagram and YouTube as potential alternatives. An analysis by eMarketer suggests that Meta and Google, owners of Instagram and YouTube respectively, could witness substantial increases in ad revenue should the TikTok ban materialize.

“We are confident that regardless of TikTok’s fate in the US, we’ll maintain success with our social marketing strategy,” remarked Katherine Chan, marketing director at Duolingo, which boasts 10.8 million TikTok followers.

In the event of a ban, numerous brands intend to explore existing short-form video platforms. Melissa Palmer, co-founder and CEO of beauty brand Osea Malibu, predicts her team would shift focus to similar platforms if TikTok is no longer accessible. Nick Guillen, co-founder of hot-sauce company Truff, also sees YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels as viable alternatives. Some brands, like Duolingo, have already begun investing in alternatives such as YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels.

In addition to Instagram, Aila Morin, CMO at beauty brand Merit, highlighted the brand’s success on Pinterest and YouTube. Olivia Pollock, senior director of brand marketing at Evite, believes Pinterest would become a larger priority for the brand in the absence of TikTok.

While brands have contingency plans, TikTok offers unique benefits that aren’t easily replicated elsewhere. Guillen acknowledges that some content produced on TikTok may not resonate on other platforms like Instagram. Losing TikTok could mean forfeiting opportunities to build brand awareness and visibility unique to the platform.

Despite potential disruptions, some brands remain confident in their diversified approach. Morin believes Merit is well-insulated from changes on TikTok or other platforms due to its balanced investment strategy.

Ultimately, Guillen doesn’t foresee a ban significantly impacting Truff’s internal strategy or business objectives. However, he concedes that the team would feel disappointed as they’ve enjoyed their presence on TikTok.


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