TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps in the United States, with U.S. users spending an average of 90 minutes daily on the platform. However, U.S. lawmakers want to ban TikTok on the basis that the Chinese-owned app could be a security threat. Donald Trump’s efforts to ban TikTok in 2020 were unsuccessful, but Montana Governor Greg Gianforte recently signed a bill banning TikTok in Montana, set to take effect in 2024. As of May 2023, the status of the current federal nationwide ban brought forward by the Biden administration is unclear, but we do know that employees had to remove the app from their federal government devices and many states are requiring their employees to follow suit.
Knowing that the government has set its sights on TikTok, how can brands and creators prepare themselves for a potential ban in the U.S.?
Brands And Creators Should Establish A Diverse Digital Marketing Portfolio
Knowing that there is a threat of a TikTok ban, brands and creators should be proactive and diversify their presence in the digital space. Diversified means “distributed among a variety of types; balanced.” So, when thinking about a social media strategy, brands should “distribute” or diversify among various social media platforms.
Should a nationwide TikTok ban go into effect, content creators can continue engaging with their fans while building up their following on other platforms. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat are all social media platforms that brands should consider when creating a strategy. While some platforms are pigeonholed as being popular among a specific demographic, for example, Facebook is seen as a platform for older users, the most popular social media platforms have millions of users in every demographic and are worth considering.
Content Creators Shouldn’t Rely Solely on One Platform
Though a TikTok ban at the federal or state level might get held up in court, the effort by lawmakers to ban a popular social media platform should reinforce the vulnerability of a one-platform strategy. If a brand was only on Twitter, they’d have to adapt to the changes Elon Musk made after purchasing the platform. For example, since Musk took over, users are having to pay for “verification.” Non-verified accounts are unable to run ads and online publishers like Substack have faced suppression efforts. Tweets containing outgoing links to Substack had a warning stating that the content could be unsafe (this has since been reversed). If a brand was solely using Twitter to reach their target audience, changes to the platform could reduce their reach, and they wouldn’t have another social medial platform to fall back on.
For TikTok creators, newfound fame and a growing following can come on suddenly with just one viral video. Due to the nature of TikTok (think reality show in 3 minutes or less), regular individuals are surpassing brands in follower count. While brands might be more versed in having a diversified social media presence, TikTok creators might not be.
Let’s take a look at a few popular TikTok creators and see how diverse their social media presence is.
- Ophelia Nichols, known on TikTok as Mama Tot, has 11.5 million followers on TikTok, 535k on Instagram, 2.7M on Facebook, 53.7k YouTube.
- Celina Spooky Boo has 27.1 M on TikTok, 2.1M on Instagram, 1.6 M on Facebook and 1.83M on YouTube.
- Jolly Good Ginger has 4.5 M on TikTok, 114k on Facebook and 31k on YouTube.
As you can see, all three of these TikTok creators have established themselves on other social media platforms. However, it’s notable that none of them are on Twitter and all of them are active on video-friendly platforms since those are similar to TikTok. None of them are on Pinterest or LinkedIn, for example, which aren’t that video friendly.
Each Platform Requires Different Content and Reaches a Different Audience
Looking back at the three TikTok creators mentioned above, we can see that their TikTok followers haven’t found them on the other social media platforms in the same numbers. This could be because the type of content on TikTok isn’t as popular on the other platforms. Reusing a TikTok video and uploading it as an Instagram Reel or Facebook Reel might not have the same effect on viewers as it did on TikTok. The same goes for YouTube Shorts. While YouTube Shorts is gaining in popularity, the sense of community people get from a TikTok video is not the same as a YouTube Short or Facebook Reel. The Instagram algorithm still favors dancing celebrities and light-hearted videos vs. some of the dramatic videos on TikTok.
Facebook Should Almost Always Be Included in Your Social Media Strategy
Even with the rising popularity of TikTok, Facebook is still the largest social media platform worldwide. Brands and creators should consider having a presence on Facebook as there are almost 3 billion active monthly users across the globe.
When creating content for Facebook, brands and creators should take into consideration that posts with photos reign supreme. While videos are popular as well, photos have the highest engagement on Facebook. In order to also have a presence on Facebook, TikTok creators should determine how they can transform their TikTok posts into photos and status updates (the second most engaged-with type of post) in order to align with Facebook best practices.
Another thing to consider when sharing content on Facebook is that TikTok adds a watermark to videos when they are downloaded, so brands and creators should be mindful of posting their TikTok videos directly to Facebook. A video with another platform’s watermark can come off as inauthentic to followers. However, if a follower shares a creator’s Tik Tok video to another platform (with the water mark) then it’s acceptable.
Use Instagram If You Have Photo And Video Content To Share
Instagram is the world’s second-largest social media app, with 18–24-year-olds as the largest user group. Unlike Facebook, where you can post photos, videos and links to articles, the main purpose of Instagram is to share photos and videos. When a brand is considering a diversified social media strategy, they should determine if they have enough photo and video content to post at least 3 times a week on Instagram. TikTok creators will undoubtedly have enough video content but should consider whether this type of content is what people expect to see on Instagram.
Instagram content is photos of sunsets, fashion and food, while TikTok content is more real-time and raw moments. This is where the two platforms differ and where we see TikTok excel over Instagram. TikTok’s algorithm connects real-life stories to people’s individual feeds, whereas Instagram’s algorithm favors influencers, brands and celebrities.
Instagram Reels are popular, users spend 17.6 million hours a day watching them. But, in comparison, TikTok users spend 197.8 million hours a day watching videos.
Like on Facebook, brands and creators should not simply reshare their TikTok videos as Instagram Reels. In fact, in 2021 Instagram posted best practices for Reels that included not posting content recycled from other apps, clearly a reference to TikTok. In 2022 Instagram reiterated this sentiment by encouraging people to post original content.
YouTube Content Is Less About Real-Time Content and More About Being Informative Or Entertaining
YouTube is the second most popular app in terms of average time spent per day by U.S. users, barely edged out by TikTok. While TikTok content has been labeled as authentic, YouTube content is usually informative or entertaining. YouTube videos are not as real-time as TikTok.
For TikTok creators to succeed on YouTube, they’ll have to step out of the comfort of their TikTok community and provide more universally entertaining content. For example, a popular post on TikTok is for a creator to make a video based on someone’s comment in a previous video. A content creator who is used to creating this type of content will need to rethink their strategy for YouTube.
Twitter Is The Platform To Provide News or Updates in Real-Time
Despite the shakeups recently at Twitter, it is still a viable way for brands and creators to engage with fans. Twitter has a few characteristics that set it apart from TikTok, Facebook and Instagram, such as displaying trends in real-time (it’s the platform you go to when there’s a fumble in the big game or an earthquake in your town) and text-based communication. Meta is trying to get into the text-based app game, so it’s clearly an important commodity. While these Twitter features might help brands manage sentiment and consumer feedback, it’s a very different platform from Tik Tok so content should reflect that.
Diversification Is The Key To Social Media Success
Expanding beyond TikTok is valuable for brands and content creators alike. But it’s important to remember to use content tailored to each specific platform and keep best practices in mind. An organized content calendar can help keep track of photos and videos across platforms. Brands and TikTok creators should also have a website that lists the various platforms they are on and it’s important to include a link to the site in their TikTok bio. Occasionally creators should inform their TikTok followers where they can be found on other social media platforms to increase engagement, especially if they have followers in Montana.