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Why You Should Care that South Dakota Banned TikTok

The Governor of South Dakota recently signed an executive order prohibiting the use of TikTok by all government agencies. As of last week, users of state-owned or state-leased devices will no longer be able to access TikTok.

While you may not live or operate a business or even have customers in South Dakota, this decision is still one that has the potential to impact you and your business and here’s why you need to understand Governor Noem’s decision-making process.

TikTok boasts more than 1B users across 154 countries with 138MM of those residents of the U.S.  With an audience of that size, we see lots of interest from clients who want to explore options that capitalize on this platform for reaching their target customers and prospects. For the right product and/or service, this can make a lot of sense. Amazon, Hello Fresh and McDonald’s are among advertisers who spent $126MM on advertising on the platform in the first 4 months of 2022, capitalizing on its use as a “how-to” platform for a multitude of daily activities from meal prep to home repair. Already Google executives recognize the impact that TikTok has on the Generation Z audience, where nearly 40% report using TikTok as their searching engine over Google.

TikTok, known in China as Douyin, is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance where the rules and regulations of data privacy vary vastly from what we’ve come to expect in the U.S. from other fan favorite social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook (who arguably have some data privacy issues of their own).

Legislators in the U.S. have been sounding the alarms with increasing frequency lately over concerns for how Chinese government could be using the location data and browsing history of users for blackmail and espionage. While this may sound far-fetched or irrelevant for your business today, decisions by governing authorities to reduce access to TikTok by their employees or even constituents could ultimately reduce the effectiveness of your advertising or organic efforts (by limiting reach) and we expect that larger organizations may follow suit over concerns that use of the platform could potentially put their customers and staff at risk (of loss of control over their personal and potentially business information).

Like many of the other decisions we have to make when providing advice to accounts about which marketing channel or application is best for your business, it’s important to understand who is in your target audience and the behaviors most common when they are looking for solutions and new services. Clearly TikTok fills that bill for a great many brands, but it will continue to be appropriate for each to carefully consider audience limiting decisions like the one most recently handed down from Kristi Noem.

This post is courtesy of MMC Principal Jennifer Koon.

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