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    How would a TikTok ban impact influencer marketing?

    How would a TikTok ban impact influencer marketing?

    The U.S. government is threatening to ban TikTok in the country if ByteDance, its China-based owner, refuses to sell. The loss of the hugely popular social media platform could mean big changes for brands’ influencer marketing in the United States. 

    Status of the law. Last month President Biden signed a law requiring TikTok to be sold within nine months or be banned in the U.S. ByteDance has repeatedly said it will not sell, and the Chinese government said TikTok’s key asset — the algorithm it runs on — cannot be moved outside China. Last week the company filed suit in federal court to block the ban. Given the resources of both sides, a court case would likely be a very long, drawn-out affair. 

    Dig deeper: 5 reasons why marketers should consider TikTok for B2B

    TikTok’s reach in the U.S. In February of last year, TikTok said it had 150 million monthly active users in the U.S., up from 100 million reported in August 2020. An analysis by digital consultants Kepios suggests that TikTok has a 53.9% adult reach rate in the U.S. According to eMarketer, 45.3% of social media users in the U.S. use it at least once a month.

    This year TikTok will get 3.5% of all the money spent in the U.S. on digital advertising, according to Statista. Worldwide nearly 30,000 companies advertised over 35,000 brands on TikTok during 2023. Companies spent an average of $954 million per quarter and $318 million per month.

    What happens if it goes away

    Influencers, especially those primarily on TikTok, would see the biggest disruption. They would lose access to the audience there which means they would also lose income. However, while TikTok is a very popular channel, especially with Gen Z, it is only one of several available to influencers. So a ban would force a strategic shift on influencers and likely slow their audience growth.

    Michael Jaconi, CEO and founder of Button, a mobile commerce optimization platform, said that the first impact would be a migration of users, influencers and ad spending to other existing platforms.

    “The influencers at the top of the market also have a large number of followers on Instagram, on YouTube, on other platforms,” he told MarTech. “And so the likely initial outcome here is that you’ll see dispersion to these other platforms that they’re using today.”

    Benefits of a multi-channel strategy

    The same is true for advertisers.

    “The brands are mature and know they can’t just be on TikTok. They also have to be on Facebook, Instagram, X, all of the platforms,” Susan Ganeshan, CMO of Emplifi, a customer engagement platform, told MarTech. “They’re multichannel and very effectively follow the no-silver-bullet rule, and would experience a little disruption, but would move on to the other platforms they can work with.”

    The fact is TikTok’s users won’t vanish if the app is banned, they’ll just go somewhere else.

    “With the audience migration, you’ll see a sort of leveling of the water level here, were the ban to take effect,” said Jaconi. “The tools themselves in the format, there may be some adjustments. Is Reels exactly the same as a TikTok short-form video? Not right now. And so maybe there’ll be some tweaks and changes to the creative formats themselves.”

    Who may benefit from a ban

    Jaconi believes a ban could be good news for other social media platforms that have had trouble gaining traction. 

    “The primary beneficiaries in the short term will be the platforms that are out there today,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll be a revival of platforms that aren’t being used today currently, so I don’t think this is the lifeboat for, like, MySpace. It will be interesting to keep an eye on some of the alternatives to TikTok that have been unable to do user acquisition and growth because of the presence of this very large and very well-designed app.” 

    Brands would need to adjust their marketing strategies — especially if they’re focused on Gen Z — to account for what they lose without TikTok.

    “For the organizations that we have in our portfolio who are really active on TikTok there’s roughly 10 influencers potentially doing posts on their behalf,” said Ganeshan. “So they would lose those that magnification of the 10.”

    The next big thing may get here faster

    TikTok’s disappearance could speed the emergence of social media’s Next Big Thing.

    “There will be something that comes into the content platform space relatively soon, whether that’s one year, whether it’s an AI-based tool or a VR-based tool,” said Jaconi. “This could make the opportunity to accelerate that or open the opportunity in the space for that to happen faster than it may have, without a ban.”

    Currently, the biggest beneficiary of a ban may be TikTok itself, said Ganeshan.

    “Look at engagement rates for our clients on TikTok and, despite the ban coming, engagement rates on those posts are actually ticking up,” she said. “Brands aren’t walking away from it. They know they still have to be there, they are actually seeing some goodness in the engagement rates going up.”

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    The post How would a TikTok ban impact influencer marketing? appeared first on MarTech.

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