TikTok Creators, Don’t Panic About the Ban. Get to Work.

New legislation gives TikTok’s owner a year to sell the app; if not, it will be banned. That leaves plenty of time for creators to pivot.

Written by Shawne Merriman
Published on Apr. 24, 2024
TikTok Creators, Don’t Panic About the Ban. Get to Work.
Image: Below the Sky / Shutterstock / Built In
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As a former NFL linebacker turned entrepreneur, I know a thing or two about having to adapt to unexpected changes both on and off the field. 

4 Things for TikTok Creators to Do Right Now

  1. Tailor content for each of your other social media channels to attract more followers. 
  2. Engage with social media followers early and often to build a strong community.
  3. Strategically create and market an email list to develop loyal and engaged users.
  4. Make your website an interactive and customer-focused place that provides readers with must-have info.

As an entrepreneur and avid social-media creator, I was stunned to see the news that TikTok might well be banned in the United States once and for all. Both the House and Senate have passed legislation banning TikTok and President Joe Biden said he would sign the bill today, April 24, 2024. The bill calls for TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the app within a year; if not sold, it will be banned in the United States.

TikTok isn’t just any basic social media platform. It’s a powerhouse of creativity and community, not to mention a massive economic engine that pumped an estimated $24 billion into the U.S. economy last year.

The loss of TikTok looms as a huge blow to creators who rely on it as a primary source of income or for someone like me, who’s used TikTok to help promote my companies. No wonder the thought of it going away is terrifying users.

I know better than anyone that fear can be unsettling and that it also can be extremely motivating. We all need to remember that digital platforms are fragile and that as creators, we need to diversify and also own our own marketing assets. 

more advice for creatorsCould a TikTok Ban Actually Boost Your Business?


Don’t Panic

What if you’re one of those creators who relies solely on TikTok for income? Use this uncertainty and time right now to your advantage. And there is time. The ban won’t take effect for at least a year and if ByteDance sells the app, it might not happen at all.

 

Boost Your Email Efforts

Social media is meant to promote assets you already have. While you can certainly make a lot of money promoting via social media and having direct access to your fans and customers, that should never come at the expense of owning your own email list, website, storefront, etc. 

The power of an email list is that you have built a captive and willing audience. These are potential customers who have chosen to be part of your world. If you’ve landed their name on your list, then you’ve already given them something they deem valuable for free. It takes more effort to opt in than it does to follow someone on social media, so the value exchange here is much higher.

I love to gift my fans and followers with stuff they couldn’t normally get anywhere else. I do a lot of jersey giveaways, ticket giveaways, items from collaborations with other athletes, etc. Keep in mind that people are bored with anything basic, whether it be a webinar or a PDF, and they really don’t want to give away their email in exchange for same-old-same old stuff. 

The good news is that everyone in every industry has their own version of unique and valuable opt-ins and giveaways. Think about collaborating with your parallel partners, meaning the people who serve your same customers but are not your competitors, for special giveaways that make it well worth your customer’s time to get on your email list. This way, you’ll never be at the whim of social media algorithms or policy changes again because your email list is your own. 

 

Perfect Your Website

If you’re still thinking about your website as a boring marketing brochure, you’re missing out on a fantastic opportunity to capture your ideal customer’s attention (and dollars) through innovative merchandise and an interactive experience on your site. 

Websites aren’t meant to be static, and most websites are too merchant focused. Think about the sections on most websites — who we are, what we do, about us. Not only is that super boring, but it’s not about your followers and customers at all. Transform your website into an interactive place with messaging that is customer-focused and include content (think long-form blog copy) that provides the information, behind the scenes look and expertise your followers are dying to know right now. From there, you can decide how much of that content they will get for free vs. what content you’ll reserve for subscribers. 

 

Divide Your Social Media Efforts

If TikTok does vanish, those who value diversification and resilience will be the least affected. I’m continuing to divide my efforts among Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and also in my earned media efforts. This allows me to connect to my fans and customers no matter what happens and mitigates any kind of risk that comes with relying too heavily on one platform.

Too many people get hung up on what to post, or they feel like posting to a variety of channels isn’t worth it unless they have a million followers. Consistency and customized content are the secret sauce here. A small, engaged following that’s diversified across a variety of platforms will be way more beneficial for you and your brand than an account with 100,000 followers that you never talk to or bury with suboptimal and irrelevant content. 

Tailor your content to fit each social media platform.

An engaged following grows when followers trust that you will show up everyday, or on a very predictable posting schedule, and by posting the right content on the right platforms. For example, if you’re posting to LinkedIn, don’t just cross-post whatever you uploaded to Instagram that morning. Tailor your content to fit each social media platform. This simple action makes all the difference between having an engaged following vs. hearing crickets online, yet you’d be shocked how many people don’t take the time to customize their social posts for the platforms they use. It’s an obvious but overlooked strategy that can make or break social performance. 

The biggest takeaway here is don’t wait. Diversify your social channels starting now and if you don’t own any of your own marketing assets, stop everything you’re doing and start building those immediately. 


Build a Stronger Brand Presence 

There isn’t a single social media platform more powerful than your personal (or business) brand. 

In the face of TikTok being banned, I’m doubling down on my personal brand. In just a few short weeks, my sports-focused streaming service will be live for consumers and I’ll be promoting it through merchandise, earned media, sponsored content, partnerships and other strategies. 

What if you don’t have a huge brand or well-known name or you’re just getting started? This is where your unique, niche experience comes in. Even though it may seem like social media is saturated with so many voices and it’s difficult to stand out, that’s only true if you don’t differentiate yourself. Trying to sound like everyone else, giving the same industry advice as your competitors and sticking to what’s safe is a surefire way to blend in.

However, if you’re willing to take an honest look at what makes you stand out in your industry and share that niche, personal and unique perspective, a smaller brand can get massive exposure simply by being different and authentic

The point of social media, and the only way to build a following on any platform, is to start a meaningful conversation with your followers.

To that same point, once you start sharing authentically online, don’t leave your followers hanging. This seems like a simple and maybe obvious move,  but when people start engaging, engage back right away. The point of social media, and the only way to build a following on any platform, is to start a meaningful conversation with your followers. You don’t want to kill the conversation the minute it starts. If you don’t respond quickly, your followers will quit engaging and eventually stop following. 

The main point here is to create multiple revenue streams that do not rely on any single social media platform. I cannot stress this enough: You do not own any social media platform. You don’t own your followers. Funnel your followers into platforms that you do own so you’re never at the mercy of someone else’s business crises (aka TikTok vs the U.S. government). 

more marketing tipsJust Send the Damn Email Already!


Embrace the Challenge

Transitioning to a post TikTok social media landscape won’t be easy, and there certainly isn’t another social media platform that connects with audiences in the casual, educational and deeply authentic way TikTok is famous for. 

However, the conversation around a pending TikTok ban reminds us that while change is inevitable, so is opportunity. Whether TikTok stays or goes, creativity is what really keeps a business alive. Embrace uncertainty, stay agile and keep pushing forward.

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