tiktok, US, ban, social media marketing

The US TikTok Ban: Potential Fallout for Affiliates and Affiliate Managers

While the situation remains fluid, the possibility of a major platform like Tik Tok disappearing has Affiliates and Affiliate Managers scrambling to understand the implications.

Emma Roberts, Head of Content at Affiverse, caught up with Lisa Riolo, Co-Founder & Executive Advisor for Impact.com and Jim Nichols, Founder of Exclamation Marketing, to discover their thoughts…

Lisa Riolo

Emma: “Will this news about the giant social media platform prompt a pivot for most marketers?”

Lisa: “Most likely, adjustments are already in the works  – especially in terms of minimising their reliance on TikTok. We know that brands with promotional video campaigns have solid alternatives in Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Vimeo. We also know that most creators build a presence that spans between platforms – offering live streams and additional content across channels. My guess is nobody is in a real panic.”

Emma: “While Washington haggles with ByteDance over H.R.7521, what’s the real opportunity for partner marketers to adjust their 2024 plans?”

Lisa: “I like to think of marketing through the lens of community building – because that approach applies to both the brand and creator (or publisher) sides of the relationship. I’d prioritise the following three tactics over the next six months:

  1. Look to diversify. Diversification helps all marketers manage concentration risks, interruption of service or the abrupt end to key partnerships. It’s also a great way to systematically broaden your reach. Most smaller communities are enthusiastic, even passionate and loyal. If you’re finding it difficult to expand beyond the core membership base, start analysing profile data. The key is to find patterns within the main group that reveal trends or sub-groups — and then to focus on recruiting similar profiles (or partners, or products) from external sources.
  2. Quality over quantity. Always allocate 10% of your resources developing and testing high-quality niches. (Remember, what you learn from emerging technologies or ‘long-tail’ relationships can sometimes highly inform next year’s planning and tactics.) Prospect with existing relationships that might be under-performing or have hidden potential.
    Bonus Tip: In every conversation, before you get to the end, ask for referrals, introductions or who might be able to help you. (And of course offer to reciprocate). If a connection is too big of an ask… Just ask for recommendations on books, articles or podcasts instead.
  3. Schedule critical tasks and activities. The idiom “Necessity is the mother of invention” is relevant to all marketers when a key channel is disrupted. You will reach the younger demographic or find the right marketplace to sell your products eventually.  What will your new reality look like? Consider worst case scenarios but plan to achieve ideal outcomes. If you schedule your plan, you will effectively implement change. (Which is much better than simply hoping for the best.)

Jim Nichols, Founder of Exclamation Marketing, also took the time to share his thoughts with us: 

“It should come as no surprise that many in the US government are advocating for a TikTik ban. According to a just-released Gallup poll, 41% of Americans consider China the nation’s greatest enemy. Employees of the Federal Government and 34 states are already banned from accessing TikTok on government-owned machines. The US Army and Navy have banned active duty service members from using TikTok, and have even stopped recruiting on the platform despite its enormous reach into young audiences. A ban is possible, but I don’t think it will happen in 2024. The reasons all relate to politics.

Neither party will want to anger TokTok’s tens of millions of American users in an election year. Already, TikTok is mobilizing members to combat a ban. Even Donald Trump, once one of TikTok’s biggest critics, recently changed his tune on the platform after meeting with a TikTok stakeholder who also happens to be a GOP megadonor. Funny how that happens, right? The Trump campaign is having a bit of a money crunch, so donors have even more clout these days. His latest comments about TikTok on his Truth Social network assert that banning TikTok would be an undesirable boon for Meta. “I don’t want Facebook … doing better. They are a true Enemy of the People!” The Biden Administration, already struggling to maintain the Democratic Party’s historic “lock” on younger voters given concerns about the situation in Gaza, won’t want another reason for Gen Z and Millennials to be frustrated with its policies. Additionally, TikTok parent Bytedance spent almost $9M on lobbying in 2023, employing 48(!) lobbyists to work Capitol Hill. Money talks in American politics. A ban still could happen, but the smart bet is on lots of hot air and no action. A lot of Americans would love it. Lots of others would be ticked off. It’s going to be too close an election for either party to take the risk.”

In Conclusion…

Tick tock goes the clock! Time will tell how this situation plays out. While a ban would undoubtedly disrupt existing strategies, it could also present some opportunities. Doors could open for innovation. Thank you to Lisa and Jim for sharing their thoughts on the topic with us.

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