Social Media Insider: What are the implications of the U.S. government banningTikTok?
Miranda Haynie: Banning the app in the U.S. would likely exacerbate current tensions with China and could potentially lead to similar retaliation against U.S. tech firms. While China has blocked U.S. social networks for years, an action like this taken by the U.S. sets a concerning tone for how restrictions could be used globally for political gain.
Social Media Insider: How are brands and marketers responding and preparing for a potential ban?
Haynie: For brands who have already invested ad spend on TikTok, there is little to do, and many are taking a wait-and-see approach rather than abandoning a platform that allows them to quickly reach and impact such a lucrative audience.
While brand safety is more important than ever, the overall risk of continuing to advertise on TikTok is relatively low, and the success brands have seen so far makes the decision to stick around easier. However, brands who haven’t yet tapped into the platform are unlikely to make the leap amid current news.
Social Media Insider: What should brands be doing at this point?
Haynie: Have a backup plan. Brands planning into TikTok campaigns should take some time to ensure the content they’re creating will work on another platform like Instagram or Snap should a ban happen. Similarly, they should evaluate any talent partnerships and confirm that their agreements allow for flexibility to use content across other platforms.
Social Media Insider: How do you think U.S. consumers would respond to a ban?
Haynie: I couldn’t imagine saying this six months ago, but I think U.S. consumers would be devastated by a ban. TikTok has become a cultural phenomenon during an extremely challenging and emotional time for many people during the pandemic, so the relationship with the app runs deep for many users who’ve spent countless hours within the TikTok community avoiding both boredom and reality.
It’s unclear what options devoted users and creators would have to protest, but it’s doubtful they would just quietly accept a ban.
Social Media Insider: Do you imagine that a large share of U.S. consumers would just refocus their energies on Instagram and Snapchat?
Haynie: It’s inevitable that some users will simply shift their time to Instagram and Snap, but it’s hard to say how many and how quickly this would happen. TikTok is unique and clearly has something that users found to be missing on other platforms in terms of video creation and functionality.
Social Media Insider: Might Instagram’s forthcoming Reels feature and Snap’s new vertical-swiping feature make such a shift more likely?
Haynie: Instagram’s Reels and Snap’s vertical-swiping will help ease the discomfort of users migrating from TikTok, but these features still wouldn’t replace what makes TikTok special.