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Is time running out for TikTok? Here’s how to get ahead of it.

These five practices can help brands overcome TikTok risk and hold onto their hard earned fans, ban or no ban.

Illustration by Ashger Zamana.

Profile picture of Aaron Gelbman


7 min read

Tick tock. Tick tock. Is time running out for TikTok? It wouldn't be the first time we thought so. 

The possible ban of the social video app is (yet again) sending ripples through government halls worldwide, including in the United States and Germany. (Not to mention in India and Nepal where the app has already been fully banned for some time.)

An all-out ban on TikTok could lie ahead, and some marketers and agencies are concerned. “Our clients reached out in droves,” says Dana Neujahr, managing director at socially led creative agency We Are Social + Narrative. “[They] want to make sure they aren’t investing in a platform if it isn’t sustainable long-term.”

Yet, Neujahr and many other creative professionals are not panicking. On the contrary,  many are taking steps to make the most of TikTok while it’s still relevant, and only plan on adjusting their strategies if and when a ban is finalized. Among them is Timipre Maxwell, CEO and founder of influencer marketing company Kreate. “[A potential ban] doesn’t affect us because as marketers we are trained to look for attention,” he says. “The attention on the platform is what builds your brand. So if [brands] aren't able to reach audiences on this specific platform, it only makes sense that they will filter across to others.”

We spoke with Neujahr, Maxwell and other experts in brand management, social media campaigns and influencer marketing. Based on their analyses of the TikTok dilemma, we learned how—even now—brands and agencies can sustain and strengthen their content and creator strategies.

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Headshots of all five people interviewed for this article.

01. Keep going on TikTok—it's probably not going away soon.

There is broad agreement that any changes to the status quo will take more than half a year to take effect, and that an immediate shift away from marketing on TikTok is premature and risky.

  • “This is a developing situation that could take months to resolve. Brands should continue to create planned and reactive organic content for TikTok.” - Dana Neujahr, managing director, We Are Social + Narrative

  • “We're still closing deals on TikTok. And I think I would only stop if and when the ban is real. We’ll still continue with TikTok for our target countries that are not the U.S.” - Sarah Adam, head of partnerships and influencer marketing, Wix Studio 

  • “Despite a slight slowdown in TikTok user growth YoY, it still hosts more than half of the U.S. population. [Now is] an opportunity for brands to capitalize on the transition period, by maintaining a presence on TikTok while others preemptively retreat. During this time, brands have an opportunity to secure a larger share of the audience and reach active users.” - Norel Mancuso, chief executive officer, Social House, Inc.

  • “A brand has to keep posting on TikTok. You have to ignore everything that's going on and stay relevant because, at the end of the day, TikTok is still the platform that has the most attention on social [media] right now. You can't pull your content from this platform before [it is] banned because you would put yourself at a disadvantage.” - Timipre Maxwell, CEO and founder, Kreate

The bottom line: Keep going with your TikTok activities. Create new content, engage with your audience and connect your fans to your other platforms. Use these next few months to gather insights—“It could also be an opportunity to understand who [your] engaged TikTok audiences are across brands and start to show up to those audiences in the other places they’re spending their time on social media,” notes Neujahr.

02. Get your footing across all the other content platforms.

Even if TikTok is the preferred app of your target audience, it’s not the only place they’re consuming content. Established platforms are already making moves to grab their attention—like LinkedIn, which is already testing a new video feed—and it’s prime time for new platforms to swoop in and claim TikTok’s space.

  • “A well-rounded approach to reaching audiences and communities across the right social platforms will almost always benefit brands more than going all in on only one platform.” - Dana Neujahr

  • “It’s important to have a cross-channel plan. Target audiences use several platforms, so we need to meet them where they are and not be focused only on one. Don't have all your eggs in one basket.” - Sarah Adam

  • “In the months following TikTok's ban in India, several Indian copycat apps emerged offering short-form video feeds, while Instagram and YouTube launched new short-form video functionality. What emerged from this was growth for Instagram and YouTube in the Indian market. It would be safe to assume that much of the spillover in brand advertising dollars would be reallocated to these American-based platforms.” - Norel Mancuso

  • “Brands have an opportunity to branch out of the current trend of short videos and complement with platforms for live streaming that, although not new, continue to garner consistent viewership and usually help creators consolidate a more loyal audience. This can be on Twitch and Kick, for example.” - Alejandra Thomas, software engineer and content creator, @pikacodes (IG / X / TT)

The bottom line: Strengthen your presence on platforms like Instagram, YouTube and X (formerly Twitter). Revisit Snapchat. Explore Reddit, Twitch or Kick. Be poised to greet your target audience wherever they end up next. 

A quote from Alejandra Thomas that reads, "Brands have an opportunity to branch out of the current trend of short videos and complement with platforms for live streaming."

03. Develop your storytelling for long-term gains. 

Since TikTok launched globally in 2017, brands have constantly raced to "win" on the platform. But to maximize engagement or drive sales, brands have often relied on tricks and gimmicks—or in Mancuso's words, "‘viral’ trends and challenges"—at the expense of a deeper audience connection. So, in the days after TikTok, what will happen to the fanbase you built? What's the compelling, insightful narrative that keeps your fans engaged no matter the platform or creative format you use?

  • “[The ban] may lead to the emergence of platforms emphasizing authentic engagement and community connections versus ‘viral’ trends and challenges, fostering new types of content creation.” - Norel Mancuso

  • “With so many brands—big and small—taking a social-first approach to marketing, it is more important than ever to remember that social moves at the speed of culture, and is often driven by consumer behavior and sentiment. [Plan] for the unplanned by having a clear social north star, defined brand personality and strong understanding of the audiences and communities you want to reach.” - Dana Neujahr

  • “Storytelling is the key to making connections. It makes your audience look forward to those videos just as much as the rest because the storytelling is just as enthralling.” - Alejandra Thomas

  • “The only way as a brand to have success and to stay at the forefront of consumers’ minds over the next decade is to expand media reach and create really great, engaging content. You are competing with Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ right now.” - Timipre Maxwell

The bottom line: Work with your teams or clients to create a brand storyline that goes deeper than the product. Use this to create content that users seek out beyond their app feeds. Looking for inspiration? Maxwell suggests Pretty Little Thing and Foot Asylum as brands who lead by example, with long-form content series that indulge their target audience’s entertainment needs over the brand’s sales needs. It’s a sure stamp of success that each long-form video exceeds 1 million views.

04. Prioritize channels that you can truly own. 

Previously, social platforms (like TikTok) were considered “owned” channels—the owner (i.e., the brand) controlled the content, the conversation and the experience. Algorithms—and now regulatory requirements—have upended that, making it essential for creators to update their mix of channels.

  • “What a brand needs to be doing now is actually building community…that you can move to a third party place like a Discord, for example. So, if TikTok does get banned, you are now sending people from this platform to an owned community [where] you can push your content on [any] platform.” - Timipre Maxwell

  • “Imagine you can involve an influencer to take over your newsletter, to host a webinar, to speak at your conference or run a workshop. There are endless things you could do on your own platforms.” - Sarah Adam

The bottom line: Invest in channels and assets you can directly own—your content, your distribution, your data and your audience. Email marketing, forums on your domain and online events are just a few ways brands can build community and share content entirely on their own terms. 

Screenshot of the Wix Studio Community Forum
A forum, like the Wix Studio Community Forum, allows brands to build a community and truly own the communications with members.

05. Take risks. 

Many of the best practices we follow today would’ve sounded preposterous 10 years ago—for example, it would’ve sounded ludicrous to put branded content creation in the hands of someone outside of the company and with minimal oversight. But the only reason it’s the status quo today is because someone before us took that risk and it paid off. 

  • “This could be an opportunity for creative agencies to use a test and learn approach to platforms that they’ve never activated on before.” - Dana Neujahr

  • “Platforms aren't immune to regulatory challenges, highlighting the need to diversify and capitalize on emerging platforms early on. Exploring alternative avenues ensures that your brand will remain ahead of the curve to maximize reach.” - Norel Mancuso

  • “The most successful brands are open-minded.” - Timipre Maxwell

  • “[Brands should] take that chance and let influencers do what they do best. Brands interfere too much in the creative process and that's a mistake. Because it’s about letting go. It's a lot of risk-taking.” - Sarah Adam

  • “I am all for brands taking creative risks—it's how trends get started! Risks in content creation help bring in new audiences and get them talking about your brand.” - Alejandra Thomas

The bottom line: Find something your brand is doing routinely and comfortably—and now turn it on its head. As you develop content, find ways to deliver the unexpected. Whether you’re experimenting with a new content format, distribution channel or creative execution, ask yourself if what you’re creating has stopping power. 

Luxury fashion accessories brand Alexis Bittar has a feed full of atypical luxury content: rough shots, damaged clothing, hidden merchandise and no sales call-to-action. And yet, videos like the one below are reaching over 200K views on Instagram and over 700K views on TikTok. It pays off to take a risk.

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