What should online creators do in the event of a TikTok ban?

What should online creators do in the event of a TikTok ban?

The news is still fresh: Last week, members of the House voted to approve a bipartisan bill giving TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, one of two options, either sell the social media platform or face a nationwide ban.

As an online business owner who dedicates time and energy to promoting your brand, business, products, and services on various social media platforms (TikTok likely one of them!), you may be asking yourself, “What’s next?”

Let’s dive a little deeper into what’s really happening, get insights from top voices in the social media industry, and explore what your options as an online creator and business owner are in the face of this update.

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So, wait, does this mean that TikTok is definitely getting banned?

Although the bill was pushed through the House, now it must pass through the Senate. Even if it does successfully make it past the Senate, TikTok plans to exercise its legal rights before ever considering a sale.

All that is to say, this isn’t an immediate concern for creators. However, it’s important to keep in mind as things move forward. And, as a creator who's work may very well be promoted or tied to the social platform, it's important to keep tabs on.

We spoke to some creators in the space to better understand their concerns, worries, and thoughts on the pressing creator economy news.

Annie-Mai Hodge is the founder and CEO of Girl Power Marketing and has nearly 65,000 followers on LinkedIn. Needless to say, she knows a thing or two about the ins and outs of social media platforms. “My biggest concern was TikTok’s US employees—which is roughly 7,000 people—who could potentially lose their jobs,” she said.

“And with mass layoffs happening across tech and gaming companies over the past couple of years, it couldn’t come at a worse time,” she added. Another creator we spoke to, Katie Stoller, founder of Influencer Insider Guide, is no stranger to understanding how influencers and creators tick—especially when it comes to TikTok.

“My initial thought went straight to the creators,” she said. “This issue is so much more complex than it seems at first blush. It's politically charged; it brings up the topic of safety and its effects on children, and it deals with how the US views China (with some racist undertones there). It's A LOT. But, my first thought went to the thousands of influencers I have personally hired on behalf of my clients who rely on this platform as their primary income stream. TikTok has democratized marketing. It has democratized becoming famous. It has allowed anyone with an idea and the guts to put it out there the ability to reach an audience. Banning the platform will be catastrophic to many. And even a sale to a new owner has the potential to alter how the platform behaves (for better or worse) and that will have an impact as well.”

Does this potential ban affect the landscape of social media as a whole?

This isn't the first time we've seen social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram come under the harsh eyes of both politics and the public. But for creators, this is more than just losing follower or going dark for a few hours: It's business.

Whether because of talks of bans or multiple outages and glitches, social media platforms have had their fair share of tumultuous activity over the last few years. So, does this recent TikTok news affect the way people view social media platforms in general?

Short answer: maybe.

“If it [TikTok] truly does go away (which it seems like it would be purchased by someone—no one wants to leave all that money on the table), there will be ‘copycat’ social media platforms that come to claim that market share,” said Katie.

“However, we rarely see copycats achieve the level of the original (i.e. Threads vs. Twitter/X). I also think YouTube and Meta will battle it out over procuring that short-form video market share,” she added.

And she’s not wrong. Although “copycat” social media platforms such as Triller and Dubsmash exist, they simply have not picked up the same steam as a platform like TikTok.

“I think initially—TikTok would take a hit in popularity—but I don’t think it would impact the platform on a large scale, and long-term,” said Annie-Mai. “That is, of course, if other countries don't follow suit and ban the app too. And I think people in the US would, ultimately, find a way around the ban—this isn’t a move that’ll kill TikTok.”

How creators and online business owners can navigate the uncertainty that comes with some social media platforms

Although there's no need to start panicking yet, this news is a healthy reminder that platforms like TikTok are at the mercy of not only algorithms but also larger nation-wide business decisions. As a creator and business owner who may have felt reliant on the platform before, what should you do now to feel prepared in case a ban is in the cards? Let’s talk about it.

Annie-Mai wants to make one thing very clear: “Don’t panic. But think about diversifying your brand where possible, and across different channels,” she said. “If you’ve built a strong presence on TikTok, then you’ve probably got a lot of content at hand—so think about how you can repurpose it via platforms like Instagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts.”

Katie reflects the same sentiment, noting that she’s in contract with 20+ creators who owe her clients TikTok content by the summer. “People don't realize how many deals happen on the platform every hour," she said. "If the platform disappears, that means hours upon hours of re-jiggering strategy and amending contracts,” she added.

“I would say for now, we need to see what the Senate does,” she noted. “This all might be a non-issue if the bill is not passed there. If it is, we might get more insight into the next steps. I am very curious about what types of companies might step up to purchase it. In summary, for now, it's business as usual, but marketers and creators alike should stay up to date on what is going on as the impact will be huge. For creators specifically, focus on building your email database, invest in ownable assets, and drive followers from TikTok to Instagram and YouTube where applicable. Do this sooner than later since so much of this seems to be happening overnight.”

Now, what does this mean for you? For starters: Having own-able assets is key. If all of your content and audience live strictly on social media platforms, you risk losing that hard work if a ban like this goes into effect. So, what should you do instead?

If you have any kind of engaged following online, whether that’s through social media or an email list, creating learning products is the key to unlocking a deeper connection with your audience, expanding your reach, and most importantly creating safety and security for the online business you’ve worked so hard to build and nurture.

And that's exactly why at Teachable, we empower creators like you to make income and impact with your work on a platform you control. Freeing yourself from an algorithm or legislation outside of your control by opting for content outside of a platform like TikTok is the first step to true creation and business autonomy, which puts you back in the driver's seat.

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