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 August 6-7, 2024 | Rosemont, Illinois

How Independent Retailers Can Prepare for the Possible TikTok Ban

TikTok has given entrepreneurs access to an audience they would not otherwise have, but a ban could threaten their livelihoods.

Every business should be using social media in some capacity, whether to drive discovery, to build relationships, or even to close sales. But as we’ve mentioned before, there is one major risk associated with relying too heavily on social media: you can lose access to that platform at any time, and with it, all of your hard work. While it seems like there is little chance of this happening—you don’t post anything that breaks the platform’s rules, and these massive tech companies aren’t going out of business anytime soon—recent news regarding TikTok demonstrates that the risk is greater than it may initially seem.

On March 7, 2023, a bipartisan bill was introduced to Congress that would, according to The Verge, “empower the secretary of Commerce to ban foreign technologies and companies from operating in the US if they present a threat to national security.” Chinese company ByteDance is now faced with selling TikTok or seeing their product banned in the United States.

The LA Times has highlighted a number of small businesses that now fear what a ban could mean for the livelihoods they built on the platform. TikTok gave these entrepreneurs access to an audience they would have never otherwise had. But there is now a possibility they’re going to lose it all. What could they have done differently?

Social media is a great way to reach customers where they are—on their phones—and TikTok is the preferred platform of younger consumers. It has also perfected its methods for keeping users engaged with the platform. But if your whole business model is built around TikTok, you are missing out on another powerful tool for nurturing relationships, keeping consumers informed, and making sales: the mailing list.

We’ve talked about the power of the mailing list before, and the possibility of a TikTok ban should show you just how important it is to have a platform that is yours, that you own and control, that you cannot be kicked off of. If TikTok goes away, so do all of your followers. But if your mailing list service shuts down, or if they raise their prices beyond what you can afford, that’s less of an issue. That list of email addresses is yours, and you can take it to another service. So instead of worrying that you’re going to lose business if your favorite social media platform shuts down, start building a mailing list.