TikTok Ban: Looking Beyond the Sub-Text
What does the "ban" mean, and how do you take back your marketing power from social media overlords?
If you're an avid TikTok user or a marketer, you would've read about a looming potential "TikTok" ban. While the American Congress had summoned TikTok's CEO to answer questions that would ultimately help shape the fate of TikTok, the social media platform is still ahead of its competitor, Meta, when it comes to engagement and advertiser ROI.
There has yet to be a word about an official ban here in Australia. However, it is important to read between the scare-mongering headlines that the "ban" being discussed only applies to government-issued devices. A spokesperson for Australian Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neill, whose department is conducting the social media review to examine TikTok, recently told the Sydney Morning Herald: "The review is currently underway into social media use has a wide remit to explore ways of keeping Australians safe, and we'll consider all its recommendations".
The purported TikTok ban on the government-issued device is the outcome of risk management to safeguard our national interest. So, your TikTok page appears safe for now…although, like everything else in life, no one can be sure how long before you receive a 404 error message when trying to access your favourite video app.
As a business owner or marketer (and I have the fortune to be both), this is another troubling news in a year filled with pessimistic information. How can I start feeling like I am in the driver's seat of my marketing again?
The short answer: Diversify your marketing.
While the TikTok ban is a wake-up call for many business owners now, the truth is social media engagement has been dying a slow death over the past few years. In fact, Instagram’s engagement has halved to just 4% in 12 months. Furthermore, the bleak economic outlook has seen advertisers reduce their ad spending across Meta's network. Currently, social media companies are bleeding and looking for ways to monetise…at the cost of your business.
This is because you don't own your social media platforms. These apps are businesses, and they will prioritise paying customers.
No matter how big your following is or how much money you've spent on the platform, you don't have any control or influence over what happens to it. I know because I've had the unfortunate experience of being locked out of my business Instagram account and could never recover it. That painful experience is enough to make me not put all my marketing eggs in the social media marketing basket.
The harsh reality is that paying for eyeballs for your posts doesn't always translate into paying customers.
Therefore, to ensure you won't be held hostage by social media outages, ever-changing rules and the macro environment, you need to have a diversified marketing strategy. Don't go all-in on any or all social media; it doesn't matter whether it's Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest…not without having a solid backup plan.
The best backup plan is to build your email list. Your email list gives you a direct line of communication between you and your audience.
You OWN your email list. Whether you're switching your e-commerce platform, web platform or CRM, you can always take your email list. But what you can't do is take your followers with you when you decide to leave one social media platform for another. A prime example is when creators started learning all the TikTok trends (point-and-dance videos, anyone?) in the early TikTok days. Yet, now we're having fear and anxiety about the TikTok ban.
How do I start an email list today AND convince my followers to join your list?
- Think about a piece of downloadable content you can create that is of value to your followers, your ideal customers and your audience
- Create that piece of content.
- Connect to an email platform provider such as MailChimp to start collecting the email addresses and host your downloadable content.
- If you don't have a website, create a landing page with a submission form to host that content. Most email platform providers have the option for users to create a landing page, and they're usually no-code interfaces, so it's pretty intuitive. Otherwise, carrd.io is an excellent and affordable platform (19 USD per year!) for building simple, fully responsible one-page sites. If you like this article and need carrd.io, it will mean a lot to me if you use my referral link to sign up to carrd.io.
- Once you have everything set up, now is the time to begin transitioning your social media followers to email marketing: promote your content on social media and encourage your followers to sign up and download the content.
Many other details are involved in email marketing, such as privacy rules, spam law, GDPR, and how to create converting landing pages. I talk about this on Episode 2 of my new podcast, Sincerely Yours, if you want to learn more. However, I hope that this article gets you to start thinking about how to get your customers to share their contact information with you via incentives so that you can establish a direct line of communication.
Finally, I'm not saying that organic social media marketing is going away tomorrow. However, diversifying your marketing stream is a safe-proof way to avoid becoming collateral damage to social media bosses' revenue diversification strategies.
If you're interested to learn more about email marketing and how to get started, I am also in the process of building my email list, and I welcome you to join me on this journey on my podcast, Sincerely Yours. I talk about all things marketing, to encourage thoughtful marketing and meaningful conversation. Listen now on Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Spotify. Let me know what you think!