Why you need contingency plans in case TikTok shuts down
When TikTok became the biggest event on social media, it also became the center of controversy. The platform's bumpy relationship with the Trump administration continues to evolve, and it is unclear how this battle will resolve. In the meantime, brands and their agency partners are concerned about what marketing dollars they are pouring into the platform and what that means for their future.
The administration initially struggled with the viral video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance as part of a larger effort to combat the Chinese government's influence. ByteDance then tried to sign a contract with the US company Oracle, and the administration responded by delaying the executive's order to ban the app. A federal judge has since decided to prevent the ban and the federal government is in the process of appealing the ruling.
TLDR: Essentially, we're seeing an ugly stalemate between the incredibly popular app and the federal government.
Brands are understandably concerned. The perception that they wasted time and marketing resources tracking down a potentially banned platform is a major concern, but even more worrying is the impact of government involvement. If the government can shut down social media platforms, businesses must have contingency plans and experienced, trustworthy teams in place to steer them in the right direction.
How should brands deal with this uncertainty?
When agencies alert their clients to such a media threat, they should evaluate and suggest alternatives by asking questions about their branding needs. Does this new platform allow similar scalability and reach? Does it match the consumer behavior of the target group? Are the costs comparable? And can your existing creative resources be transferred to this new landscape? With the answers to these questions, agencies can use this platform to learn how much time and budget the brand needs to achieve their goals.
Brands don't just consider ad performance when using these platforms and deciding how to use them. They are also looking for security. When the Facebook data breach leaked in 2018, one of my agency's largest college clients threatened to cut all media spending – a significant portion of the media budget overall and an extremely healthy lead generation medium. It was the first time in my career that a data breach of this magnitude led directly to such a serious concern, and it probably won't be the last.
If the TikTok controversy has shown us anything, the environment in which we do business can change overnight … literally. Brands have to be ready to adapt if they are to survive. When you're nimble and ready to strategically and quickly shift ad investments, you will determine which brands will survive and which will not.
Whether it's a brand's overall business model, advertisers, offers and promotional strategies, or even the platforms they use, developing contingency plans for advertising shouldn't be just a dusty earthquake kit stowed in the attic becomes. These plans should be an integral part of the business.