The threat of TikTok's ban in the USA highlights the inherent instability of social media advertising - but also how critical it is to business success.
TikTok has been under scrutiny in the US for years now – as of March 2023, the possibility of an outright ban is more likely than ever, though many advertisers and influencers continue to fuel their marketing on the platform even amidst such discussions.
The conversations prompted around social media marketing in the shadow of this possibility are not just about what will influencers do who have found their home and success on TikTok, but how should all businesses strategize their digital marketing going forward. The upheaval has left many marketers with burning questions:
- What does a potential ban for such a large social media platform say about the social media strategies we all rely on?
- Is the knee-jerk reaction to invest more in traditional marketing and less in unstable yet highly influential platforms the proper path?
- How does one find the right balance between a wise investment and following the trends?
- What benefits do we truly derive from social media marketing that makes the gamble worth the investment?
We explore these questions and more in our article so that digital marketers, business owners, and influencers can all choose their path wisely when navigating online digital marketing in a social media space. We also take a look at comparable social media platforms and how businesses can best navigate moving their following from one platform to another in times of upheaval.
The Benefits of Social Media Marketing and Why the Investment is So Tempting
No marketer has ever argued that social media advertising is stable, predictable, or a long-term strategy. While social media advertising may benefit companies in the long run, have some anticipated trends, and can have moments of foreseeable outcomes, it is largely an ever-changing landscape that requires quick thinking and a dedicated team to pivot within an hour. The possibility of TikTok going under in the USA illustrates this more than ever.
And no marketer is new to these instances. Just in the last year, marketers have had to wrangle with Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk changing advertising policies, subscription costs, Tweet lengths, policy guidelines, and more. Facebook is constantly in the headlines and the talk of conversations surrounding rules, regulations, ethics, pay-to-play, and more. Instagram is forever chasing competitors like TikTok and Snapchat, and Snapchat is trying to prove it’s more than just a teen photo messaging app. No platform has ever remained stagnant and therefore neither has any social media marketer.
The social media landscape is littered with pitfalls and yet it is also where every major competitor goes to get seen, be found, and grow a following. It is where you meet your clients authentically, answer questions in real-time, display your new products, and boost sales and referrals with ease.
Social Media is Finding Success in the Chaos
Social media can take small businesses from niche to a community name; small-town influencers can find big success and boost their favorite brands right from their feed; and large companies can become more authentic and humanistic by playing along with trends.
The risks are apparent but the successes, when landed, are outstanding. Brands should always focus on meeting their clients where they already are and it’s no denying that social media is where almost every customer can be found – you just need to nail down the right app.
So what happens when the platform where you’ve built your following, grow your content, and invested your budget is at risk of going under – or being changed dramatically?
Where to Go if TikTok is Banned - Or If Any Other Social Media Platform Goes Under
How to Move Followings and Grow Content Without Major Marketing Setbacks
The first thing that marketers and business owners need to identify about changing apps is what draws their audience to a specific platform. Think about content length, media format, community interaction, customization options, entertainment, connection, messaging abilities, and more.
TikTok users are drawn to the enhanced algorithm, the entertainment value, the easily digestible short-form content, and the ability to grow their community. Once these values are identified they can be crossed-referenced with other social media platforms that offer similar quality.
Choosing a new social media platform takes a fair bit of prediction and gambling – which is why a business should never invest its entire content in one or two platforms only. Even if you see the majority of your growth in one area, you should be building content across multiple apps to reach potential new clients at all times. Your investment dollars may be spent where you see audience engagement but nothing stops you from posting organic content anywhere and everywhere.
Starting the Process of Moving Your Audience to a New Platform
If you start to see a shift in social media engagement trending down, or you’re aware that a social media platform’s ownership or legal standing may be in jeopardy, start the process of migrating your audience and growing awareness that you produce on multiple channels.
Most users are unaware their favorite content can be found on other platforms. Respond to comments that ask about other apps and pin your responses when you can; be coy in captions or profile bios that may not allow you to directly guide users off of an app and instead say “find us on all your apps” with a link tree or similar URL listing instead.
Don’t be shy about announcing why you want to attract other followers – mention how X platform is better for you or that your company is making a decision for it’s best growth. This allows users to respond with feedback to tell you if you’re on the right track or need to back-peddle your ideas.
Up until the point it no longer makes sense for your company to be on a platform, engage with users and make it known that you’re willing to connect wherever followers will find you – and then foster those connections with comment responses, up-to-date content, and content tailored specifically for that new platform so quality doesn’t suffer.
Pro Tip: A social media team or dedicated agency can be great for moments like this where you need enhanced engagement and activity on apps to really connect with users. Don’t be shy about asking about temporary contracts to help make the transition and branding easier on you and your staff.
Should Businesses Redirect Their Social Media Marketing Efforts to More Traditional Avenues?
As tempting as it may be to point to continual shifting platforms in social media marketing and blame it as a risky place for investments, there is no denying that success in social media is lucrative to business sales, customer retention, and brand reputation. The success seen on social media cannot be duplicated through other avenues.
The proper response, at all times, is to have a well-rounded digital marketing strategy that has the ability to pivot in response to any digital crisis. This applies to cookie tracking, Google updates, email retention, and more. All digital marketing strategies should be able to take their content and redirect their efforts elsewhere with minimal loss.
What does this look like? Ask yourself about your digital marketing strategy:
- Am I posting organic content on all channels that fit my media
- Have I diversified my content and made it work for video, audio, text, and more
- Is my branding strong enough that I am recognized on all platforms on sight
- Have I made my presence in different locations – email, video, website, social – apparent to my followers
- Have I encouraged newsletter sign-ups to continue to promote my content and do I have the software to handle a large uptick in subscriptions
- Is my content up to date across my website, social apps, and printed materials
- Do I promote my digital presence through my traditional marketing and services
Conclusion: Do You Feel Confident in Your Diversified Marketing?
Can your following survive if you’re forced to change platforms? Do you feel confident in building a well rounded digital advertising strategy?
Tiktok’s ban is not just about influencers and advertisers who have found success on the platform, but it showcases the inherent radical instability found in social media advertising and growth and how marketers need to be prepared for those changes at any time.
The potential ban underscores the importance of diversifying advertising efforts across multiple platforms to reduce the risk of over-reliance on any single platform. Small businesses should consider exploring alternative social media platforms and other digital marketing channels to ensure their message reaches their target audience and to mitigate the risks of unexpected platform changes or bans.
While the response to this is not to remove one’s business from social media marketing or even drastically reduce investment, it does force agencies and owners to create back-up plans to balance the scales of stable, predictable advertising with trending but short-lived success found in these areas.
We hope you’ve found answers about how similar scenarios in the past have influenced digital strategies today, where to go with your content, how to best bring your followers with you, and what a balance of traditional and digital marketing looks like to be bullet-proof in this ever-changing landscape.
Got questions? Opinions? Drop a comment or follow us on social and let us know what you’re doing to protect your assets.