Battle lines drawn for Tik Tok as parent company says it has ‘no plans’ to sell

HIGH POINT — The clock is ticking for Tik Tok, with a one-year countdown for its parent company, Bytedance, to either sell its U.S.-based assets or face a ban having begun last week.

The potential ban of one of the most popular social media platforms among younger audiences has injected a fresh order of uncertainty into the outlook of social media marketers, and the questions surrounding what a post-Tik Tok marketing world looks like became more pressing last week, as Bytedance announced that it did not intend to sell the platform.

“International media reports that ByteDance is exploring a sale of TikTok are untrue. ByteDance has no plans to sell TikTok,” the company said in its Chinese-language statement on Thursday.

President Joe Biden signed a bill that included provisions that would ban Tik Tok barring a sale of its domestic assets last week. Bytedance has said it plans to challenge the law in court and cites its success blocking a similar law in Montana from going into effect last year. “The facts and the constitution are on our side,” said Tik Tok CEO Shou Zi Chew in a video posted to the platform last week.

Another point of major uncertainty: It is now thought unlikely that, if a sale of Tik Tok does materialize, Bytedance would include its proprietary algorithms in such a transfer. Bytedance’s post last week made note of a headline in business intelligence outlet The Information:  “ByteDance considering selling TikTok without its algorithm.” ByteDance watermarked the Chinese characters for “rumor” over the headline.

Chinese regulators would have to approve any such sale as well as the transfer of any intellectual property that it contained, which they are unlikely to do based on the protectionist track record when it comes to new technologies.

So what is a brand or retailer to do with so much uncertainty and relatively little time to act?

When asked for one single piece of advice that he would give brands and retailers seeking to steel themselves for a digital world without Tik Tok, Dr. Chris Ferris, senior vice president of marketing at Pierpont communications, urged flexibility and preparedness to make changes in marketing strategy quickly.

“Brands should be prepared to pivot to other social networks — Instagram, YouTube and SnapChat” —and to “explore partnerships with influencers” who hold sway on these platforms with the younger audiences that brands and retailers aim to target.

See also:

  • How can online retailers vibe with Gen-Z? E-comm software exec shares 3 tips
  • How can online retailers prep for a potential Tik Tok ban? 

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