Navigating a TikTok Ban: 3 Easy Ways for Brands to Adapt

A step-by-step guide for digital marketers navigating the potential TikTok ban.

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Brands have been taking advantage of TikTok’s ability to capture the attention of Gen Z users. But TikTok marketing may come to an abrupt end with the looming TikTok ban – and marketers will need to adapt.

What’s Behind the Potential TikTok Ban

President Donald Trump announced plans to ban TikTok due to privacy concerns about Chinese parent company ByteDance Ltd.

TikTok collects massive amounts of user data including browsing and location histories. With the Chinese app currently installed on over 175 million American devices, there is a potential risk of this crucial data falling into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

The President has ordered TikTok to find an American buyer and delete any data obtained from U.S. TikTok users.

How Brands Are Using TikTok in Their Digital Marketing Strategy

Why have brands turned to TikTok? It’s not just the ability to reach Gen Z. Everyone loves to consume short video content. And we’re consuming a TON of it!

The surging social media platform has the unique ability to put your content in front of millions of users without an existing following or a lot of ad spend. The algorithm makes it so any TikTok can explode in popularity. What better way to promote your brand than to invite people to create your ads for you and then sit back and watch the trend catch on?

The platform develops a large amount of user-generated content for large brands through hashtag campaigns.

For example, the Marc Anthony #StrictlyCurls and #DreamBigVolumeChallenge asked users to create before and after videos featuring their products. The organic effort generated 9.4 million views and a 138% spike in sales in two months after launching the challenges on TikTok.

How Brands Can Adapt TikTok Techniques

These teenagers and twenty-somethings won’t just turn their devices off if TikTok is banned in the U.S. – they will turn to other platforms. And the strategies employed for success on TikTok can be applied to your other digital marketing efforts, as well.

Here’s our three-step guide on how brands can adapt to a post-TikTok world.

1. Try Out Instagram Reels

We had to start by talking about Facebook’s recently released TikTok clone – Instagram Reels. The new feature hit the social media scene just as the TikTok ban was announced.

The Reels feature allows users to create 15-second video compilations with music editing features. Reels live on a new tab of user’s profiles and can be discovered on the Instagram Explore page.

The scrollable feed resembles TikTok’s “For You” feed and is a great place to reach users that don’t follow you. Like TikToks, Reels are searchable by music and tags, so go ahead and hop on those trends here too!
Instagram ReelsEarly users of Reels are impressed with the amount of engagement they’re getting. Animal content page The Dodo averaged 2.7 million views per Reel video. Their Reels are outperforming IGTV videos and getting 3x more engagement than their regular feed content.

There is currently no advertising functionality for Reels; top publishers will not be paid for their content, and there will be no in-feed ads. Creators are hoping to build a Reels community before introducing any kind of monetization to the feature.

Reels are a great way to show off your products, post short how-to videos, and lead people back to your Instagram account. 

This new Instagram feature is definitely worth experimenting with, especially as a platform to share previously created TikTok content to a new audience. Using the more established platform allows you to build your Instagram following and funnel users to links in your bio. Instagram also has a much more diverse audience than TikTok’s almost 70% 13-24 year old user base.

It’s still early on for Instagram Reels, but the feature is expected to take off just like Instagram’s Snapchat clone “stories” feature did years ago. Reels could be a great way to distribute organic content, and it has the potential to generate millions of impressions and engagements. Be one of the first to take advantage of this new feature.

2. Launch Branded Challenges on Other Platforms

Take TikTok for Business’s advice: Don’t Make Ads, Make a New Trend. Creating or participating in trending TikTok challenges is one of the major ways that brands get attention on TikTok. The lesson is: everyone loves a challenge. Don’t let the TikTok ban take this potential branding opportunity away- carry this strategy onto other platforms.

Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? There were 6,200,000 uses of the hashtag #IceBucketChallenge on Twitter. It spread across platforms to Facebook and Instagram too.

While your brand won’t have the benefit of TikTok’s content-performance-based algorithm, platforms like Twitter are still great places to create a viral challenge. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Monitor trending hashtags and evaluate why they went viral.
  2. Think of an irresistible challenge that provides entertainment value for users.
  3. Create a hashtag that is simple and memorable.
  4. Try to use your brand name in the hashtag. Avoid getting lost in a massive game of telephone: the challenge needs to be associated with your brand in order to generate awareness. If you can feature your actual product in the challenge, that’s even better!
  5. Promote your challenge on social and traditional channels. Reach out to relevant industry influencers about being one of the first to participate.

Take the spirit of TikTok to whichever channel makes the most sense for your brand.

3. Follow TikTok Influencers to Other Channels

Is your brand relying on influencer marketing on TikTok? The good news is that TikTok influencers didn’t all get famous on TikTok. And the ones that did always have a second preferred channel such as Instagram or Youtube.

Let your influencer partners take the lead in encouraging their TikTok fans to Follow or Subscribe to them on another channel. They need to prepare for a potential TikTok ban too, and you can continue your partnership there!



♬ Up – Movie Theme – Giampaolo Pasquile

The Takeaway: It’s All About Omni-channel Marketing

TikTok’s popularity has proved that users love to be entertained online. Even if the TikTok craze is cut short, short-form video content is still king of the internet. It’s why video platforms keep popping up: YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, TikTok, and Reels.

To prepare for a TikTok ban, use these strategies and build an omni-channel marketing strategy. There are plenty of platforms to share video content on, so never rely on just one.

Don’t put yourself in a position where one ban or algorithm will change your ability to reach users online. Follow users where they are and tailor your content to match what they consume on that platform.

Learn more about how to build an omni-channel marketing strategy that will work for your brand here.

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