Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How should marketers be preparing for a TikTok ban?

By Mischa McInerney, CMO, Digital Marketing Institute

New developments within the marketing industry, means that marketers always need to have their finger on the pulse to prepare for emerging trends, changing and advancing technologies, and the latest skill requirements – or else they risk falling behind in an already competitive landscape.

So, when a fundamental part of the marketing strategy begins to crumble – namely, in this instance, TikTok – how can marketers ensure they’re two steps ahead to avoid a fall in ROI?

TikTok as a marketing platform has always had conversations around it – people questioning whether the platform was here to stay and its demand would prevail, or wondering whether it’s just a fad that’ll soon disappear, much like so many other trends that have been more than fleeting.

But we’ve seen the lasting impact it has had on consumers. Short form content engages audiences like none other, meaning that TikTok is the dream destination for marketers and brands looking to attract and retain customers. As a result, it dominates a lot of space within brands’ social strategy, and over the past few years, marketing managers have focused on growing their audience on this platform. You only have to look at brands such as Duolingo, Aldi and RyanAir, which continue to jump on the back of TikTok trends and rocket themselves to virality. 

It’s also been used as a high performing sales tool, with some brands turning to the ‘TikTok shop’ function of the platform to invest in social commerce- and it’s now the number one search engine amongst Gen Z. 

The growth of the platform means brands have invested in job roles, carved out purely to create and manage TikTok content. And across the broader marketing teams, TikTok has become an integral part of the day-to-day job function. 

So now, as an industry, we’ve adapted to having a platform that provides a huge pool of opportunity, but it may well be taken away from us just as quickly as it arrived.

There are serious talks of a TikTok ban on the horizon, meaning brands who dedicate a lot of time to the platform are in store for a real strategy shakeup. But how will marketers reassess their strategies, to ensure socials continue performing, regardless of the loss of TikTok?

Making a change in strategy a drop in the ocean

If TikTok does indeed get banned in the US, there will no doubt be a knock-on impact on brands here in the UK and contingency plans may need to be put in place in preparation for a similar decision from the UK government. Brands who heavily rely on the platform for their social content therefore need to plan ahead.

Undeniably, the short form, snappy content keeps consumers engaged and helps the platform rise to success, so marketers should consider where they can replicate this away from TikTok. They can make the most of reels on Instagram and Facebook and Youtube shorts to replicate the fast-moving, ever-changing feel that TikTok provides.

Especially for those brands that were born by their success on TikTok and have relied on the platform ever since, integrating other social channels is critical to ensure their social ROI continues. 

Adopting the rapid changes in the industry

The potential ban of TikTok is an example of why adopting the rapid changes in the industry and keeping team members upskilled in key areas of marketing is vital. Managers should ensure their entire team can be agile when needed and integrate different platforms and channels confidently into their marketing strategies should they need to. 

At the Digital Marketing Institute, we collaborate with leading industry experts and thought-leaders from global giants such as Google, Meta, and HubSpot to ensure our courses and content stay at the forefront of the industry, reflecting the latest developments, trends, and best practices.

The discussions of a TikTok ban should be a wake-up call to the industry that it can never rest on its laurels when it comes to skill requirements in roles. A failure to adapt could mean brands lose out to critical competition.