US TikTok ban: How would it affect UK creators and businesses?

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The ongoing dispute between US lawmakers and TikTok has now reached a tipping point, with the Senate now passing a bill that will force TikTok owners to sell its stake in the company or see the app banned in the US.

While we’re not going to see a ban occur anytime soon, with the bill still needing to go through the Senate and be signed by the president, that hasn’t stopped countless people from protesting against the decision – not just from an entertainment standpoint, but also from a business one. But how would a potential ban on TikTok in the US affect users in the UK?

Here’s what Chelsea Hopkins, Social Media and PR Manager at Fasthosts, had to say on the potential knock-on effects: “The worst-case scenario here is obviously that a ban of TikTok in the US results in the UK following suit, but this would be a terrible move for a variety of industries. While many people will automatically think of influencers when thinking of those who use the app for work, TikTok has become so much more than that. Countless businesses large and small use TikTok for advertising, either through sponsorships or by producing their own content, with a ban effectively eliminating this form of putting your brand out there. There’s also TikTok Shop, acting as an amazing ecommerce platform for small businesses to sell their products and create new revenue streams. Other social media platforms do offer similar services, but TikTok has quickly become the preferred method, and transitioning to another platform isn’t an easy feat with each platform having its own set of tools, features, and a new algorithm to learn!

“Even if a ban in the US doesn’t result in a UK ban, there would certainly still be some knock on effects. The app has over 150 million users in the US which equates to around 15% of TikTok’s users, and a sudden loss of this amount of users is going to have a huge impact on the amount of content on the app. Outside of the clear problems faced by having fewer prospective customers and sponsorship opportunities present, US users of the app are also responsible for setting many trends which brands can then capitalise on for their marketing efforts, making the platform a far less effective marketing tool overall on various levels. This could see an attempt at migrations to other platforms like Instagram and X (which has recently reinforced its commitment to becoming a video platform) when it comes to marketing focuses, but this is something that could be hugely detrimental for smaller businesses.

“While it may still be some time until we really see the effects of this bill, businesses large and small alike should be following closely so they can be best prepared for these worst case scenarios. Small businesses who use TikTok as their main source of marketing should begin investing time into other platforms, while larger establishments should have future contingency plans in place to make sure projects in the pipeline don’t become irrelevant. There’s plenty of time to prepare, but it doesn’t hurt to start early.

Diversifying your marketing efforts is best practice anyway, as having multiple channels not only expands your reach but also means you won’t be caught out if any one channel goes dark for whatever reason. When Twitter’s ownership changed many creatives chose to boycott the platform, leaving them without an effective advertising outlet as they didn’t have an established presence elsewhere. Having a strong website and maintaining a base level across different outlets can save your business in the long run, as social media platforms can change algorithms and requirements at a moment’s notice.”