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Should your UK business fear the proposed US ban of TikTok?

In late April, US President Joe Biden signed off a law establishing a deadline — currently set to come up in less than nine months’ time — for ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, to sell the popular social media app. If this sale does not go through, TikTok will be banned in the US. 

It’s far from clear whether this ban will actually go into effect in the foreseeable future. TikTok itself has pledged to launch a court challenge against this “unconstitutional law” — but even just the prospect of the ban could already be making many UK businesses nervous.

Why is the US threatening to ban TikTok? 

TikTok originally arrived in the US in 2017 and has since garnered a mammoth 170 million users across the country. However, as ByteDance is based in China, US politicians have expressed concern that the authoritarian government of the People’s Republic could too easily access these users’ data.

In theory, this data could, in turn, be used to feed these users content intended to sway their political opinions. Though ByteDance has responded to such concerns by switching to Western-based data centres, The Wall Street Journal recently uncovered security lapses in ByteDance’s handling of data. 

Would a US TikTok ban have implications for UK businesses?

In practice, several years could pass before the US does block the app (if at all), as legal action against the proposed move would likely go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Indeed, legal challenges previously foiled a similar TikTok ban attempt made back in 2020.  

Nonetheless, if your UK-based brand currently attracts many US customers via TikTok, you might want to start pivoting more of your marketers’ attentions towards other social media platforms. According to TikTok itself, some 1.5 million UK companies operate on the app.  

Those companies include the London-based Pearl Cosmetics, which has the US market to thank for a quarter of its sales. “Certain months 60-70% of our monthly sales have come from the US,” Franks Remedies founder Kyle Frank, whose UK business is also active on TikTok, recently told BBC News

Why it’s risky to tick(Tok) just one box with your social media strategy 

Chances are that TikTok has enabled your business to make a crucial sales breakthrough. Frank reflected about the US customers he has himself reached on TikTok: “We haven’t really had to spend any money on ads or marketing to get those customers and connect with them.”

However, no matter what marketing gains you have made as a result of using TikTok, it’s important to remember that relying heavily on just one social media platform remains risky, as you can’t be certain that it will long remain as effective as you really need it to be. 

Fortunately, we at Webahead Internet can help you to diversify your web marketing strategy. That way, if one of your company’s revenue sources starts faltering, you will likely be able to fall back on others with relative ease. To enquire with us, please ring 01325 582112. 

Should your UK business fear the proposed US ban of TikTok
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