The TikTok Ban: a guide for brands

Do you QuitTok? DitchTok? Or Tok even harder?

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A breaking news edition of Future Social! I’ve missed the real-time writing and reporting. Last time it was the Threads 101 Strategy Guide, when I stayed up 24 hours straight to pump out the first how to on the platform.

This time? It’s the TikTok Ban. Let’s talk about:

  • What is the TikTok Ban?

  • How brands should handle the TikTok ban

  • The future of short-form vertical content

TikTok is banned. What should brands do?

Listen, I still don’t really buy it? Politics & data privacy & espionage aside, I just have a hard time believing the American Government will tell 170 million U.S. TikTok users that they can’t scroll their favorite app anymore. I truly believe there will never ben an interruption of service, whether ByteDance or a US-based company owns the app.

But, Biden signed the bill, so a TikTok ban is in progress & already further along than it’s ever been.

What’s the current state of the ban?

Per CNN:The bill that Biden signed gives TikTok’s Chinese parent, ByteDance, 270 days to sell TikTok. Failure to do so would lead to significant consequences: TikTok would be prohibited from US app stores and from “internet hosting services” that support it.”

270 days from now is January 19, 2025. If the bill stands, that’s the date where you wouldn’t be able to download or interact with the app.

The Tok’s official response comes from CEO Shou Zi Chew’s TikTok, seen below.


Response to TikTok Ban Bill

I don’t wanna spend too long on the decision trees and theoreticals of how the ban will play out in court—that aforementioned CNN article is a great explainer if you’re curious about the legalities & politics of it all.

Let’s get to what you, a marketer, should do about the ban.

If your brand is currently on TikTok…

Keep on TikToking, brands! Keep on keeping on.

If TikTok is providing your business value through organic content or paid advertising, the newly signed bill should not change a single part of your current TikTok strategy.

The absolute earliest TikTok would ever turn off the American lights is 270 days away. January 2025. Why abandon an effective media channel three quarters in advance? You’ve built an audience. You’ve built community. There’s no reason to abandon those folks. And again—I truly don’t believe we’ll ever see an interruption of service.

I’ll say that if you’re a brand making truly custom content for TikTok that you don’t post anywhere else, might be time to start aligning your TikTok strategy with Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. But honestly, you should’ve already done that—the same content can go viral on all three networks. The content you output for short-form vertical platforms can be identical.

If your executives start panicking, send them this newsletter, I’ll talk to ‘em.

If your brand is not on TikTok… join TikTok.

I think your brand should join TikTok, today, even with a potential ban coming.

I’d bet my kitten* your brand’s on Instagram. And if your brand’s on Instagram, I sure hope you’re primarily making Reels content to take advantage of the Reels algorithm. And those same Reels, without even a single change, can be just as successful on TikTok. So why not get that extra reach, extra audience, and extra sales with just a few moments of uploading and copy-paste captions?

Again, the ban isn’t even possible for nine months. That’s so many marketing campaigns away. Get your content seen everywhere, even if the network isn’t forever.

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Use your brain. Think through your whys. Don’t overcorrect and give yourself more work.

*I don’t have a kitten, but I didn’t think my signed copy of Third Eye Blind’s original self-titled 1997 album would be appreciated collateral, which would’ve just saddened me, since I spent a decade tracking down every original member’s signatures.

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