TikTok Ban and the Effect on Brand Awareness

By Ivana Thomson, GDI – Account Executive

Since the launch of TikTok, it has gained a massive following with over a billion monthly active users and quickly became one of the world’s most popular social media platform. The app offers a unique format that allows users to combine videos with various styles of music and captivating video editing features. It allows users to be as creative, goofy, and true to themselves without the need for professionalism to make a positive impact, or even better, to go viral.

Many businesses of all sizes recognized the power of social media marketing the app offers for growth and brand awareness. With that, TikTok has become an excellent platform for advertising that feels authentic and genuine.

Five benefits of using TikTok for businesses:

  1. Increase brand awareness
  2. Enhance brand identity
  3. Reach your target market faster
  4. Take advantage of user generated content
  5. Partner with influencers

Based on a Capterra survey, “78% of the businesses who use it have seen a positive return on investment from the app. And 49% of TikTok users say it influenced their purchasing decisions.” The app is positioning itself as an almighty tool that business cannot afford to overlook any longer.

In the last five years, the looming possibility of a TikTok ban has remained a persistent concern. TikTok, owned by the Chinese internet company ByteDance, has drawn scrutiny from the U.S. government. The main concern centers around the Chinese government using the app to spy on Americans and gather personal data. TikTok has adamantly refuted these allegations. The bill passed by The House of Representative is simple, they want ByteDance to sell TikTok to non-Chinese owners, or have the app banned in the US. However, ByteDance doesn’t have any plans to sell the app. Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, is continuing to fight for millions of Americans rights in court.

If the ban moves forward, it could hurt 7 billion US businesses that rely on their loyal customers and remove a platform that contributes $24 billion to the US economy annually. A report by the Associated Press noted that, “TikTok users tend to be highly engaged with the platform, spending significant amounts of time watching and interacting with content,” that report said. “This high level of engagement can increase the visibility of branded content and help brands connect with their target audience in a more meaningful way.”

TikTok is especially important to smaller businesses targeting fast moving trends, through the platform’s ecommerce shop known as TikTok Shop. In 2023, the shop generated $1.1 billion in Gross Merchandise Revenue in the US. If TikTok disappears, these small business owners will lose a significant portion of their income.

The TikTok ban on brands would depend on various factors, including the brand’s target audience, their current level of engagement, and the effect of switching to different marketing channels. Here are a few potential effects:

  1. Loss of Reach: Brands that have built a strong following on TikTok could lead to an immediate loss of reach and engagement with that audience. This will impact brand awareness, especially among younger demographics who are active on the platform.
  2. Opportunity for Competitors: Competing brands unaffected by the ban could potentially capitalize on the absence of their competitors on TikTok, gaining more visibility and market share among users who are still active on the platform.
  3. Shift to Alternative Platforms: Brands may move their marketing efforts to other social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, FaceBook or YouTube to maintain or rebuild brand awareness and reach their target audience. However, it may take time to replicate the same level of engagement and brand awareness achieved on TikTok.
  4. Innovation in Marketing Strategies: A TikTok ban could cause brands to reinvent the wheel and explore new and creative ways to engage with their audience online. This could involve investing in influencer marketing on other platforms, creating interactive content, or leveraging emerging social media trends.

Overall, while a TikTok ban could initially disrupt brand awareness efforts, it may also present opportunities for brands to explore new strategies and channels for reaching their target audience. Flexibility and adaptability will be key for brands to navigate the evolving social media landscape effectively.

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