The Fallout in Franchising from a U.S. TikTok Ban

TikTok Ban and Franchising

How Franchisees Can Navigate a TikTok-Free World

In a move that is sending shockwaves across the business world, the U.S. Government’s motion to ban TikTok will have far-reaching implications, including within the franchising space.

In March, the U.S. House passed legislation that could ban the social media platform in the United States if Chinese owner ByteDance doesn’t sell the company. The bill now moves on to the Senate, but no one knows exactly how soon. 

In a year where everything is an election issue, the debate will heat up quickly. President Biden says he will sign the bill into law if it passes both houses. And former President Trump has spoken out against the legislation. Get ready for everyone to pick a side.

But putting politics aside, a ban on TikTok will have negative ramifications for large brands and small businesses, including both franchisors and franchisees.

The Marketing Quandary

TikTok has become an important part of the digital marketing strategy for many franchise brands. Its unique algorithm, which promotes content virality better than many other social platforms, has enabled substantial organic growth and brand recognition for both franchisors’ development campaigns and franchisees’ local marketing at a fraction of traditional marketing costs. 

Franchise development teams at brands such as Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, A&W Restaurants, The Joint Chiropractic, BELFOR, Home Run Franchises, and more are reaching new audiences due to the unique nature of TikTok’s reach and algorithm. Check them all out on TikTok and see how they’re talking to potential candidates where the candidates live!

Without access to TikTok, franchises will be tasked with relying on other platforms that offer audiences easy access to short-form videos. This is no small feat. Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and LinkedIn, while far-reaching, do not offer the same algorithmic advantage that makes TikTok a winner for many marketers. The transition will likely involve resetting content strategies to align with different platform dynamics.

Franchise Marketing at a Crossroads

For local franchisee marketing, the potential ban underscores the necessity for franchises to diversify their digital marketing portfolios.

Over-reliance on a single marketing platform has always been a risky proposition. Ten years ago, we saw this with Facebook and the parent/child scale-up. When Facebook throttled down the significance of organic posts and bailed on the franchise industry, many brands’ big plans went bust. The current scenario also shows the volatility of digital platforms and the need for a more holistic approach to digital marketing.

The Economic Undertones

Beyond the immediate marketing implications, there are broader economic perspectives to consider. TikTok has been a significant player in the gig economy, providing content creators with livelihoods. Many of these individuals play an important role in franchise marketing strategies, often serving as brand ambassadors or content creators. The ban would disrupt this relationship, hurting not only the income of these creators but also the marketing results for franchises that rely on influencer partnerships.

What’s Next? 

If franchises need to navigate a TikTok-free year ahead, innovation will be critical. Investing in more paid content and leveraging traditional digital marketing channels could be the new normal. This situation will likely spur the development of new, U.S.-based platforms that fill the void left by TikTok, offering new opportunities for marketing innovation.

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Jack Monson is the CEO of Brand J, the leading franchise development marketing agency. His team has told the stories of more than 400 franchise brands via videos, articles, social channels, websites, podcasts, and paid advertising. Jack is also the owner and host of Social Geek, a Top 25 Marketing podcast on Apple and the number one podcast in franchising. Social Geek is celebrating its 15th year with well over 1 million downloads.

He has been working with franchise systems and enterprise brands in digital marketing for two decades after working in radio and public relations in Chicago. He serves on the IFA’s Supplier Forum Advisory Board and writes a regular column for Franchise Update Media publications.
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