TikTok Ban | 4 Ways to Preserve Your Influence
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
Uncertainty surrounding the future of TikTok is forcing digital influencers to be more strategic about preserving their value. Here's a 4-point plan to help you future-proof your brand today!
In working with influencer clients and digital creators over the years, one message I stress is that your daily routine can be disrupted, either for a hot second or for good, at any given point in time. The evidence of this volatility in the social landscape spans from the occasional Instagram service outages and account suspensions to more infamous cases where influencers — pretty much — lost their influence overnight (i.e., Vine’s untimely shutdown in 2016). Over the last few weeks, we’ve been faced with a similar situation. The existence of TikTok, the Chinese video-sharing social media platform that was made available to U.S. citizens in 2018, has been threatened by President Trump. According to his administration, TikTok poses threats to U.S. national security due to its user data collection practices. A forced sale by mid-November, a deadline set by Trump, could save the platform, and companies like Oracle, Microsoft, and Twitter have reportedly been in talks to acquire the ByteDance brand. But if talks stall or TikTok actually moves forward with a reported lawsuit against Trump, things may not look good in the coming months. So what does this mean for TikTok creators? How seriously should you take these reports? What steps can you take to preserve the newfound stream of income, or impact, you’ve worked so hard to build? All great questions, homie, all great questions… As a marketing guy with experience building global brands, creating integrated marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies and helping nearly 100 influencers get paid, here’s my advice: Get more intentional about diversifying your influence. What does this mean? In a nutshell, it means leveraging the clout you’ve amassed on one platform to broaden — or sometimes establish — your credibility elsewhere. So Idia (ė-dee-yuh), what does this look like? Well, I’m happy you asked. I compiled a list of my top 4 strategies to ensure you’re preserving your brand equity at all costs. Here we go:
#1 — Make sure your name is uniform across all platforms.
Let’s begin this with the basics. Although this isn’t always easy to do, it’s (simply put) the BEST way to ensure folks don’t forget who you are. Your favorite brands — Amazon, Google, Facebook, Disney — invest billions of dollars in advertising each year with the sole purpose of generating brand awareness. This customer strategy isn’t always to convert a digital spectator (i.e., social media user, or TV viewer) into a paying customer immediately. Often times the goal is to boost brand recognition so when said spectator finally needs the product Company X is selling (in your case, the “product” could be a good laugh, business tips, motivational quotes, fitness instruction, new music, etc.) they are top of mind and reachable. If TikTok disappears one day — knock on wood — uniformity across the board helps you reestablish yourself faster because you’re accessible. Do your best to achieve uniformity, and if you can’t, ensure handles for all your social media profiles are prominently displayed.
#2 — Expand your influence beyond social media
In my opinion, true credibility is tied to more traditional forms of media consumption: a feature in a notable publication like Forbes, a segment interview on ABC News, keynoting an industry-expert conference like TEDx or SXSW, publishing a NY Times Bestseller (or a wildly successful e-book). These traditional PR tools introduce you to audiences beyond your niche, which is critical in convincing the masses that your experience matters. Social media gives us the illusion that making it there means the process of exposure and sustainable brand-building is complete. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’ve been able to create at a high-level and build a substantial audience in your niche, you possess something that many million-dollar global brands struggle to tap into and replicate. You’re an expert in strategy and execution. You’ve mastered new media and are an authority in the digital space. You’re [likely] an entrepreneur with enough wins and losses to provide credible advice to aspiring creatives. And these skills — which serve as your leverage — are worth tens of thousands of dollars (and sometimes more) in brand partnership deals. Be intentional in positioning yourself for these traditional media opportunities which allow your brand and business to manifest in ways you never imagined. How do I get in front of these opportunities? Here’s how… HARO (Help A Reporter Out) This is one of my favorite platforms. Their objective is to help reporters and journalists from various sized publications create content pieces (i.e., podcasts, published articles, video interviews, etc.) by pairing them with subject-matter experts for quotes. HARO’s free tier allows you to receive 3 newsletters a day with different “media casting” opportunities segmented by category (i.e., finance, tech, business, general). See below:
This helps you stretch beyond social media by securing placement of your brand(s) name, digital links, and (sometimes) visuals in medium to large-sized publications, which could lead to a boost in paid gigs and help diversify your fanbase. If HARO doesn’t work for you, another option would be to go the traditional PR professional route: Public Relations (PR) Professional This option requires a small investment on your part but is well worth it. PR professionals assist you in developing a positive public image. They do so by putting together a strategy outlining your brand’s position, then pursuing various media opportunities on your behalf. For example, a well-connected PR professional can help you:
Secure a full-length feature, or mention, in Inc. Magazine or Forbes
Book an in-person (or digital in a post-COVID world) speaking engagement at industry-expert conferences like CultureCon or AfroTech
A solid PR professional could run you upwards of $1,000 every 1–2 months (depending on how they personally price their campaigns). This sounds hefty but can be an amazing investment that positions you for more product sales, more paid gigs, and more opportunities to transcend social media for years to come. Discount options can also be found on freelance marketplaces like Upwork (as little as $35/hr) and Fiverr (as little as $100/project).
#3 — Get in your creative bag! Forge a Strategic Content Partnership
There’s an old saying — and by “old” I mean something I saw on Instagram last year — which reads: “If you want to go fast, go alone.. but if you want to go far, go together”
A partnership highlights the importance of sharing resources for mutual gain. An example of a successful partnership is Kanye West and Adidas collaborating to launch the Yeezy brand. Great partnerships bridge the gap in value by giving all involved parties access to additional resources that can be used to power growth. What began as Kanye wanting more resources to fuel his creative goals, and Adidas seeking better alignment with pop culture to increase market share in the sneaker industry eventually morphed into a multibillion-dollar empire. That’s a very fruitful partnership if you ask me! ‘Ye, what do you think?
Similar to ‘Ye, you too can form a mutually beneficial creative relationship. So what could this look like? I propose cross-collaborating with other digital creators to bring you value on social media platforms that you hope to expand onto. Let’s assume you’re a TikTok savant focused on short-form comedy, with 1M followers. Start by identifying a Twitter and/or Instagram creator, with a similar audience type (i.e., scripted comedy), that’s as successful as you (let’s say 700K–1M). **I mention Twitter here since TikTok videos have historically done well on the platform. Also, Instagram is ideal since its algorithm places value on short-form content with viral components — especially after their launch of Reels.** Brainstorm some organic, themed videos you both can shoot and post on your respective platforms — giving each other credit in the caption to help one another drive organic audience growth. Here’s a dope example between Hollywood icon Will Smith and pop star Jason Derulo:
The original video, which was posted on August 5th, led to a follow-up post from Jason Derulo (below) on his TikTok…
This content micro-series was then distributed onto Jason’s Instagram, where he currently has 6.9M followers compared to Will’s 48.5M. Over the last month, the two would then publish a series of collaborative posts (see below) which have done really, really well. According to Upfluence insights generation tools, the posts have resulted in a reach of nearly 300M and have helped Jason gain a ~10% follower increase on Instagram.
So what can you learn from this example? Content collaborations can be really fun, and ridiculously rewarding. When done well, they can position you as an authority to new audiences and can help you leverage one social platform to grow another.
#4 — “Data is KING”! Prioritize the information play!
The last and most important step is to get serious about your data! Consider the following stats, per HubSpot:
40 % of business-to-business (B2B) marketers say email newsletters are critical to their content marketing success.
73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email.
99% of consumers check their email every day, and it is by far the preferred way to receive updates from brands.
So, Idia, why are these business-related metrics important for me and my approach?
Great question; here are two answers:
Because you are the Chief Marketing Officer of your personal brand! Just as business executives, app developers, and brand officers are relying on data to communicate with their consumers, you, too, should explore ways of pairing a name, mobile number, and email to each of your superfans.
Other than text, email is perhaps the most efficient form of digital communication that exists. And although many keep predicting its demise at the hands of different forms of tech, it ain’t going anywhere bro.
Beyond the presented reasons, data is a form of brand equity, built up from years worth of social capital disguised as likes, comments, and shares. Data is something tangible that you can extract for the years of quality content you’ve meticulously put out. And certain types of data, let’s focus on emails, allow your interactions with supporters to continue regardless of your social media’s status. So what tools allow you to achieve this? Great question… There are plenty of email marketing sites that will get the job done — MailChimp, Drip, Constant Contact — but let’s focus on my favorite, GetResponse. In a nutshell, GetResponse offers you the marketing software needed to grow your audience, promote services, and sell products. You can perform basic functions like making a landing page, creating a contact form that your followers can fill out, and sending email blasts to thousands at once. You can also perform cooler, more complex functions like marketing automation, allowing you to automatically create communication sequences that email your fans/customers.
What are some ways I can leverage email data? To offer more context, I’ll use my consulting business as an example. If I wanted to turn my social media fans (roughly 13K across Instagram and LinkedIn) into names and emails, my process would look like this:
Pick a service and create a form — This would have basic fields that my followers can fill out like First and Last Name, Phone Number, Email Address. The goal here is to keep it simple and easy to navigate. If I wanted to collect more information, I might include questions to determine the City/State, Age, and Occupation of my audience.
Identify your lead magnet — A lead magnet is something that attracts followers (“prospects”) to do something — in this case, sign-up for my email list. Some examples of popular lead magnets are free ebooks, templates, or webinars/courses. In the case of my consulting business, my lead magnet of choice would be a free marketing strategy session. Pro-Tip: If you work with sponsors that give you product samples, you could even request additional items to raffle it off as part of your personal lead magnet (which would actually be a win-win for both the sponsor and yourself).
Create a compelling visual and publish to social media — This is my favorite part of the process. Brainstorm organic ways to communicate your offering to your following using a dope visual, including a call-to-action (CTA). A CTA is a directive that you urge your audience to do after engaging with something, for example, “sign-up in my bio” or “swipe-up to learn more.” You also want to make sure the GetResponse link to your beautiful mailing list form is placed in your bio so folks can locate it.
For best results, I recommend running campaigns of this nature 2–3 times a month. With each campaign, you might reach 10–15% of your audience, but it adds up over time! After stacking this information, you can then decide how you want to leverage it. The most advised strategy is a monthly newsletter to promote new social content (across ALL platforms) and/or sell products and services. Here are some real-life examples from some of my good homies in the serial entrepreneurship space, Pauleanna Reid and Jacques Bastien. Pauleanna’s data grab sequence begins with a dope, heartfelt post (below) calling all followers to apply for her mentorship program (her CTA of choice is “link in bio”). The link then takes prospective mentees to a beautiful form (designed using the TypeForm technology). This initiative is part of Pauleanna’s #MentorMondays which ensures that she has a consistent weekly cadence for engaging with followers and creating additional email marketing opportunities.
Jacques followed a similar model by sharing this post with his nearly 20K Instagram followers which leveraged a life update that detailed his 10-year entrepreneurial journey. He also took the time to preview a new Creative Freedom course he recently launched. His lead magnet here is a free preview of the extensive, valuable course! Check out the landing page here where he’s able to collect emails, then re-market to his Instagram followers in perpetuity.
Congratulations… You’re all caught up & good to go!
Kudos to you for making it through this article! You’re now equipped to weather any social media storm and preserve your influence today. If you have any follow-up questions or need additional support with these strategies, feel free to reach out to me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) and put “Future-Proof Article” in the subject.
Happy Content Creating! 🙂🙂
About The Author
Idia Ogala is a brand marketing & content strategist based in New York City. He specializes in creative partnerships & marketing strategy, with nearly a decade of experience helping Fortune 500 brands and social influencers scale their digital engagement and monetize. Hit me up! Let's connect (Instagram | Twitter | Email)