TikTok Social Media Marketing

Socially savvy brands will be ready no matter what happens to TikTok


By Evan Horowitz, CEO

April 30, 2024 | 5 min read

Movers+Shakers’s Evan Horowitz believes that social-first marketers worth their salt will be able to adapt to the TikTok situation with short notice. Agility, after all, is supposed to be one of the sector’s strengths.

TikTok app logo on mobile phone screen with other social app logos

/ Adobe Stock

Following a series of failed attempts over the past four years to ban TikTok in the US, President Biden has signed a bill that would ban TikTok unless it is sold within a year. The bill also requires that the Chinese owners, ByteDance, sell to the company outside of China.

While the fate of TikTok remains very uncertain, the success path for brands is quite straightforward and actually unchanged by this latest news.

Here’s how we see it.

What to expect from the TikTok Legislation

The legislation will face immediate legal challenges on First Amendment grounds. The government will have to prove this is an appropriate restriction on free speech, which, according to legal experts, will be challenging.

Should the courts uphold the legislation, the path to selling TikTok to an American buyer is complicated by China’s regulations that seemingly necessitate government approval before licensing ByteDance’s algorithms to external parties. This aspect is crucial since much of TikTok’s success stems from its algorithms’ superior ability to serve users content they’ll enjoy.

Another wildcard: the nine-month mark, in mid-to-late January, coincides with the US presidential inauguration. If former President Donald Trump wins in November, he might seek to reverse the TikTok ban. (Yes, it’s ironic that he has changed course on this issue.)

All to say, it’s extremely unpredictable what will happen in a year. Our recommendations for brands combine a short-term and long-term approach.

How TikTok users are responding

Many in the TikTok community are using TikTok to share their opinions. One user on TikTok created a step-by-step plan on ways people can use their voice and platform to stop the ban. From there, others are stitching the content to show exactly how they took action based on the plan, with others giving tutorials. Much of this content is collected using the #KeepTikTok hashtag.

Influencers who are over-indexed in TikTok are also working to diversify their followers on other platforms, especially Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.

Our recommendation for brands

Brands that already have a robust social program are actually well-positioned to succeed, regardless of what happens with TikTok next year.

The formula for success on social media is, and will continue to be, the agility to listen and respond to social media in real-time. For the past few years, brands have been winning because they read the social tea leaves every week, and they produce content and campaigns that fit what consumers care about right now. Every week, consumers show up on different platforms caring about different things -- from TikTok filters to Taylor Swift albums. Socially savvy brands have built the ability (in-house or with their agency) to listen and respond in real time.

And so 2025 is eons away in social years. Brands that are trying to plan their social work in 2025 today are doomed to fail. This is why the TikTok legislation should not impact brands’ social strategy today.

As always, social platforms will continue to change and evolve - come and go. Continue to invest in your organization’s cultural listening and agility. You need to show up where consumers are this week. You need to show up with the influencers who are hot this month. You need to participate in trends that are cool now. Don’t spend time or energy worrying about the 2025 social landscape. Wait until then to allocate your dollars and your creative thinking.

Do continue to test new platforms, as always. We have seen a lot of success with our clients on Instagram Reels, Threads, and YouTube Shorts. And we continue to try new emerging platforms and features. Not to invest a disproportionate amount of time or money but to stay current and be ahead of the curve as consumer tastes evolve.

Stay close to the TikTok situation, as you should with every platform each week, and you’ll create the most success for your brand.

TikTok Social Media Marketing

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