TikTok is a juggernaut for content creators. 

Over 39K TikTok creators have at least 1M subscribers, according to Social Blade, as reported by The Information. TikTok’s algorithm is the most addicting of any social network, and the average TikTok user spends at least 90 minutes each day on the platform. 

TikTok is pulling advertising flow away from Facebook and Instagram (just look at Meta’s latest quarterly report). The same is happening for Snap and Google – both showed a decrease in overall advertising revenue. A good portion of that is going to TikTok.

Go to any marketing conference or media site, and you’ll see “How to Gain a Following on TikTok” as a core topic. 

It’s no wonder TikTok has become the favored platform for content creators. TikTok boasts over 1B daily active users and is projected to have nearly 2B by year-end.

Could TikTok’s ride end for content creators?

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. Tensions rose during Donald Trump’s presidency over concerns that TikTok was a security risk for the United States. While the administration considered banning the app, ByteDance announced a deal to be acquired by the US-owned Oracle.

I think the TikTok ride will end for creators, and soon.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. Tensions initially rose during the previous presidency over concerns that TikTok was a security risk for the United States. While the administration was considering banning the app, ByteDance announced a deal to be purchased by U.S.-based Oracle.

Nothing became of the deal, although TikTok has moved much of its data over to Oracle’s servers. 

#TikTok will be banned in the United States within the year, predicts @JoePulizzi. If you're a creator on TikTok, are you prepared? #CreatorEconomy #TikTokBan Click To Tweet

So everything is OK now, right? Not so fast.

Tensions are escalating between the United States and China. To this date, China has banned all U.S.-headquartered social networks from the country. Only Google – a censored and watered-down version – seems to be available to the citizens of China. Given China considers social media part of its national security, an ongoing policy where US-based networks become available to citizens of China will never happen.

This week, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission called on the Council on Foreign Investment in the United States to ban TikTok. In September, TikTok was the core conversation in a meeting about social media usage and national security. Senate leaders’ concerns ranged from privacy issues to intellectual property theft to TikTok’s ability to affect U.S. sentiment and cause national chaos and disenchantment. (Of course, we’ve seen this before with U.S.-based Facebook during the 2016 presidential election.)

In October, the Biden administration announced a chip ban directed at China. If fully implemented, the move devastates China’s manufacturing capabilities around artificial intelligence and advanced technology.

The U.S. government is using whatever power it has to inhibit China’s growth as a technological powerhouse. The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest economies, and the United States seems determined to keep its No. 1 spot and show its displeasure over Chinese policies that affect the United States and U.S.-friendly countries.

Rampant distrust, ongoing issues in Taiwan, data security/privacy issues, and deepening nationalism on both sides have created a real problem for TikTok.

What does this mean? It’s only a matter of time before the United States bans the use of China-based TikTok. That would debilitate content creators who have built their platforms on TikTok’s “rented land” and the marketers who consider TikTok a core part of their content marketing and social media strategies.

A few months ago, I believed something like this would happen within three years. Now, with the latest strategic moves on both sides, a ban within the year is possible, if not probable, unless something materially changes.

What should you do as a content creator about potential TikTok ban?

We at The Tilt believe content creators and content entrepreneurs should absolutely leverage social media when it makes sense. It’s best to focus on one or two platforms, aiming for best-of-breed instead of a jack-of-all-trades. But that should not be the end of your audience strategy.

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You need to adopt a mentality that access to your social channels could end tomorrow. Build a strategy where you can use sites like TikTok and Instagram to attract an audience and move those followers to more controlled platforms like email, owned membership sites, or even a Web3 token project.

Creators using @TikTok should be moving their audiences to platforms they have more control over like email and owned membership sites, says @JoePulizzi. #TikTokBan #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Unexpected shutdowns or business-impacting changes surprised creators in the past. It happened when Google+ shut down. It happened when OnlyFans changed the rules for creators. It happened when Instagram dramatically changed its algorithm.

It will happen with TikTok. 

If you are building an audience on TikTok, go ahead and be amazing, but realize that the positive effects on your content business may be short-lived.

You’ve been warned.

Ready to make plans to move your TikTok audience to channels over which you have better control? Here are 5 Things To Do To Move From Rented Land. And be sure to subscribe to The Tilt for twice weekly news and tips about everything creator economy.

About the author

Joe Pulizzi is the founder of The Tilt, author of seven books including Content Inc. and co-founder of speech-therapy fundraiser, The Orange Effect Foundation.