Montana House Passes Bill to Ban TikTok: What You Need to Know

On April 14th, 2023 marketers, business owners, and social media lovers alike woke to some interesting news. CNN reported that the Montana House had passed a bill that would ban TikTok in the state. As expected, this caused a stir amongst users of the beloved platform that launched in 2016 by Chinese tech company ByteDance.

This news comes after years of speculation and concerns about data privacy and the potential for the Chinese government to use TikTok to promote propaganda. With Chinese-American relations steadily inching towards increased tension, apprehensions about national security, economic competition, and competing ideologies continue to entrench both nations in an environment of mistrust and suspicion.

TikTok and Business Marketing Efforts

As talks of banning or limiting TikTok make headlines, many business owners wonder what this might mean for their marketing efforts. Recent estimations project the popular platform to grow around 8% year-over-year. Marketers certainly see the value of the social media giant. In fact, 75% of marketers plan to increase their activity to reach the estimated 23.7 million people buying on TikTok. Some researchers believe TikTok’s US net ad revenues could reach $11 billion by 2024.

With so much money on the line, marketers and business owners alike wonder how to prepare for the coming storm. However, just because one chamber of Montana’s state legislature passed a bill, that does not mean it will automatically become law. The bill still needs to pass the Montana Senate before being signed by the governor and becoming law.

If the bill were to become law, it could signal significant implications for social media usage and free speech in Montana. TikTok is a popular platform for sharing opinions and creative content. A ban on the platform could limit users’ ability to express themselves and connect with others online. Not to mention, Montana businesses can fall behind their national competitors who have access to the platform’s powerful content algorithm.

Trump’s Attempt to Ban TikTok

It is worth noting that this is not the first time American’s face a possible TikTok ban. In 2020, the Trump administration attempted to ban TikTok in the United States over concerns about its ties to China. Trump’s Commerce Department attempted to prevent Americans from downloading the app citing a threat to national security. The executive order concerning TikTok required ByteDance to sell their U.S. operations within 90 days or become banned in the U.S. The Trump administration argued that TikTok posed a threat because it might share American user data with the Chinese government.

TikTok fought back, claiming the executive order was unconstitutional and breached their due process rights. The company also argued that it had taken adequate steps to safeguard user data and had never provided user data to the Chinese government.In September 2020, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s ban on TikTok from going into effect, citing concerns over the government’s evidence and the First Amendment rights of TikTok users.

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women on cell phones

Unanswered Questions

If states were to ban TikTok, it could lead to major disruption for American businesses’ social media campaigns, especially those targeting younger audiences. TikTok is particularly popular with younger consumers. Businesses who leverage this tool to reach millennials and Gen-Z will feel hit hardest. While other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat may fill some of the void, they do not have the same level of engagement or reach as TikTok for certain demographics.

Furthermore, a ban on TikTok could lead to significant revenue losses for businesses that use the massive platform for advertising and brand awareness. Many businesses have invested time and resources into building their TikTok presence and establishing a following, and a ban could disrupt those efforts and destabalize many businesses. This is an especially scary in our current economic climate that threatens a looming recession.

TikTok Alternatives

While it isn’t time to ditch your TikTok campaigns, creating a back-up plan is important. There are several alternatives to TikTok that businesses and individuals could consider if TikTok were to be banned in one or more states. Here are a few examples:

  1. Instagram Reels: Instagram Reels is a feature within Instagram that allows users to create short-form video content, similar to TikTok. Reels offers many of the same features as TikTok, including music, filters, and editing tools. Instagram has a large user base and is a popular platform for businesses, so Reels could be an excellent alternative for businesses looking to reach a younger audience.
  2. Triller: Triller is another short-form video app that allows users to create and share videos set to music. Triller has gained popularity in recent years, especially among musicians and celebrities, and offers many of the same features as TikTok, including editing tools and a variety of music options.
  3. YouTube Shorts: YouTube Shorts is a feature within the YouTube app that allows users to create short-form video content. It offers many of the same features as TikTok, including music and editing tools. YouTube is a popular platform for businesses, so Shorts could be a suitable alternative for businesses looking to reach a wider audience.
  4. Snapchat: While Snapchat does not offer the same short-form video format as TikTok, it is still a popular platform for younger audiences. Snapchat offers a variety of features for businesses, including advertising options, filters, and lenses.

It’s important to note that while these alternatives offer similar features to TikTok, they may not have the same level of engagement or reach as TikTok for certain demographics. Businesses would need to carefully consider their target audience and their goals before choosing an alternative platform.

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