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Most US TikTok Creators Don’t See a Ban Coming

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Most US TikTok Creators Don't See a Ban Coming

Most TikTok creators in the US don’t think the platform will be banned within a year, and most haven’t seen the brands they work for divert their marketing budgets away from the app, according to a new survey of people who make money publishing. Content on TikTok shared exclusively with WIRED.

The findings suggest that TikTok’s influencer economy is largely not experiencing existential fear after Congress passed a law last month that jeopardized the future of the app’s US operations. The bill requires TikTok to separate from its Chinese parent company within a year or face a nationwide ban; TikTok is challenging the constitutionality of the measure in court.

Fohr, a influencer marketing platform which connects creators with customers for sponsored content, surveyed US-based TikTok creators on its platform with at least 10,000 followers. He received 200 responses, half from people who rely on influence as their sole source of income. Of those surveyed, 62 percent said they did not believe TikTok would be banned by 2025, while the remaining 38 percent said they believed it would be.

Some creators may be skeptical that a ban will actually happen after having seen the Trump White House and Congress try and fail several times to crack down on TikTok in recent years. The platform so far only has continued to grow most popular in the United States, which generated alarm in Silicon Valley due to the threat posed by its competition. There is also the possibility that TikTok could be sold to a group of American investors (several interested bidders have emerged), although TikTok has made it clear that such an acquisition would be virtually impossible.

Some creators are simply struggling to believe the strange situation their favorite app has fallen into. “I deny it, because I think the TikTok ban is ridiculous,” one anonymous creator told Fohr via his survey. “I think our government has more important things to worry about than banning a platform where people can express their views and opinions.”

Most creators said they have not lost business to brands that pay for marketing content on TikTok since the new law was signed: 83 percent of influencers who responded said their sponsorships had not been affected. But the rest had seen signs of brands pulling back from the app or at least diversifying their marketing. About 7 percent said a brand had paused or canceled a campaign they were working on, and 8 percent said a brand had requested to change a deliverable to another social media platform or at least inquired about such a change.

Companies may be reluctant to abandon TikTok because it has become one of the most popular ways for consumers to discover new products, especially from small companies. Over the past year, TikTok has attempted to leverage that influence into a new revenue stream through an e-commerce feature called TikTok Shop. On 11 percent of American households have made a purchase through TikTok Shop since September 2023, according to credit card transaction data published in April by research firm Earnest Analytics.

It doesn’t appear that the passage of the divestment bill last month has led people to spend much less time on TikTok or avoid the app altogether. The platform’s popularity in US app stores has remained largely consistent over the past month, according to market intelligence firm Sensor Tower. And Fohr found that 60 percent of creators said their video views stayed the same, 28 percent said they’d seen them drop, and 10 percent reported their engagement increased. These changes could simply be due to routine changes that TikTok makes to its algorithm, the variability of content influencers share, or the whims of users who consume videos.

The rise of TikTok has spurred American tech giants to imitate many of its features, with Google’s YouTube pushing its Shorts format and Meta’s Instagram launching Reels. Fohr’s survey suggests that if creators start abandoning TikTok due to uncertainty about the app’s future or a ban, Instagram will benefit the most. A clear majority of creators (67 percent) said they saw it as the best alternative to growing their audience, while 22 percent cited YouTube. Only a small fraction targeted Snapchat, Pinterest and other platforms.

However, several of the creators said it’s harder to gain traction on Instagram compared to TikTok, with one noting that the Meta platform doesn’t offer anything equivalent to TikTok’s Creativity Program, which pays users based on the number of views and other engagement metrics they get. videos receive.

Across social platforms, the most common way for creators to get paid is by signing deals with brands to make posts featuring their products. But Fohr’s survey also showed the growth of a novel monetization scheme called the TikTok Creative Challenge, which the app launched last year. It allows businesses to post requests for creators to create marketing videos that brands can use on their own channels. Influencers are compensated based on how your video performs in terms of views and engagement.

In Fohr’s survey, that type of content, known as UGC, represented TikTok’s largest source of income for 18 percent of creators. Whatever happens with TikTok in the US, history suggests it may not be long before its US competitors start rolling out their own user-generated content initiatives.

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