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TikTok May Aid Social Media Marketing Even if it’s Shut Down

August 21, 2020

Social media marketing remains in a state of uncertainty because of political discord and growing security concerns.

I’ve previously talked about the boycott of Facebook advertising, and the questions it raises about whether you should sacrifice access to one audience for the sake of good public relations with another. But now TikTok has moved into the crosshairs, thanks to talking points on the other side of the political spectrum.

For many social media marketing companies, this may not represent as much of a challenge. TikTok hasn’t really carved out its niche in terms of advertising yet. So there are fairly few advertisers who have made it a genuine part of their strategy. And among those who have, many will still find it easy to cut that platform out if necessary.

Still, it may be important to come to a conclusion about whether that will be necessary. President Trump has threatened to shut the platform down entirely, claiming that it represents too great a security risk in favor of China. But other proposals are in the works, including TikTok’s purchase by Microsoft or another tech giant.

Each prospective outcome would have its own impacts on the social media marketing industry. The companies that anticipate future developments correctly may find themselves with a bit of a competitive advantage going forward. If TikTok ends up being saved, those who previously abandoned it will have to struggle to establish their presence all over again. But if it collapses, the early adopters of this branch of social media marketing may be stuck with sunk costs that they can’t recoup.

It’s easy to look at this situation and decide that your company’s decision basically comes down to the flip of a coin. But I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that. And until the outcome of this controversy becomes clear, I would most likely recommend that advertisers continue to try to establish a presence on TikTok if the platform is popular among their target audience.

This isn’t to say that I believe TikTok will definitely survive attacks from the president. I admit that I have no way of knowing. But I’m very confident that even if TikTok itself gets shut down, something else will come along to take its place, both as a form of entertainment and as a social media marketing platform.

We’ve already seen this sort of resurrection of collapsed services at many times in the history of the internet. In fact, TikTok itself was a clear successor to Vine, which went live in 2012 and then shut down at the beginning of 2017. Its co-founder is already positioning a new micro-video sharing app, Byte, as a potential replacement for TikTok if it goes down.

Of course, transitioning from one of these services to the other doesn’t allow you to take your followers or your impressions with you. But that’s only part of what you need for effective social media marketing. You also need the hands-on experience that allows you to boost engagement. And this is something that social media marketing professionals can develop on TikTok, then apply elsewhere when the time comes.

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