Life After TikTok? What a Ban Could Mean for Brands & Content Creators

The battle over TikTok's future is heating up. Here's what to make of the news and how to prepare for the road ahead.

What Does the TikTok Ban Mean for Content Creators and Brands?

With the recent passage of a U.S. government bill that targets TikTok, the platform’s fate is in question. But TikTok is not the first social platform to face extinction, and it likely won’t be the last. Brands and content creators have navigated these changes in the past by staying flexible and turning them into opportunities for strategic growth. Don’t press the panic button just yet—monitoring developments closely and consulting with influencer marketing experts will ensure you’re ready for any required shifts.


Legislation Breakdown: What’s in the Bill?

The legislation requires TikTok’s owners, Chinese tech giant ByteDance, to divest their interests or face a ban in the U.S. Due to growing data security concerns, the bipartisan effort creates immediate uncertainty for TikTok and those relying on its unique ecosystem and access to 150 million+ American users.

On May 7, TikTok and ByteDance filed a lawsuit painting the new law as an attack on free speech, signifying a lengthy legal battle ahead. Understanding these nuances will help brands and content creators anticipate potential outcomes and prepare accordingly.


Impact on Content Creators

Over 5 million businesses utilize TikTok, many of whom are content creators and small business owners in their own right.

“Creators who rely primarily on TikTok are at high stakes here, and their futures need to be central to the conversation as we consider the impact that unfolds,” says Acorn CEO Heather Nichols.

History teaches us that digital landscapes (and the creators who use them) are ever-changing and resilient. See: Vine. When the platform shut down in 2017, many creators leveraged their skills in short-form content to confidently transition to YouTube and Instagram and continue to thrive on these platforms today.

At Acorn, we manage a network of over 25,000 creators and we are proactively educating them on how to broaden their audience and strengthen their content across multiple platforms. For those heavily reliant on TikTok, we’re facilitating a smooth transition to other platforms, ensuring they continue to find brand-aligned opportunities and sustain their businesses.

As far as some creators are concerned? This bill is just the latest item on a long list of threats that have been made against TikTok over the last few years. “The TikTok ban hasn’t seemed like a reality to me I think just because we’ve been hearing threats about it for quite awhile now. It’s almost at a I’ll believe it when I see it’ point. But if it does happen, in all honesty I think either something will come right along just as quickly to take its place in the U.S, or everyone will just go back to Instagram as their sole source of social media,” says Caitlin Teal, a content creator in our influencer network.


Preparing Brands for the Next Wave

Brands have navigated platform changes time and time again. In preparation, it’s essential to maintain an adaptable social media strategy and diversify your digital presence. 

For our brand partners, Acorn is actively developing strategic recommendations tailored to each brand’s holistic goals. While TikTok’s ‘magic’ algorithm may be unmatched in driving video content, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts have become increasingly valuable. Instagram’s massive user base and extensive advertising options are a natural fit for brands seeking continued engagement. YouTube Shorts leverages YouTube’s existing popularity, offering creators a powerful new(ish) tool in a familiar ecosystem. Acorn’s expertise will continue to unite creators and brands across platforms so that our partners benefit from the power of social media, even if TikTok isn’t a part of the arsenal.

What’s Next?

As we navigate the future of social media and influencer marketing, diversification remains key. Brands will invest in a multi-platform approach to buffer against disruptions, continue building vibrant communities, and drive purchases. Emerging platforms like Lemon8, Clapper, and Triller will strive to capture the audience left by TikTok, should the ban take effect. However, established networks like Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat are poised to benefit most from TikTok’s absence. Short-form video will continue to dominate content and creative, agile creators will successfully adapt and draw their audiences to these new formats. 

With strategic planning and collaborative efforts, brands and creators can navigate the uncertainties of TikTok’s future and emerge stronger, no matter what lies ahead.

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Written By

Lola Behrens

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