Chad Spangler shooting a video.
Courtesy: Chad Spangler
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced hours on end. severe interrogation From Congress in late March, small business owner Chad Spangler watched disapprovingly.
Bipartisan congressional committee discusses how TikTok, a hugely popular short-form video app owned by China’s ByteDance, could pose potential privacy and security threats to US consumers was investigating.
Representatives questioned Chew harshly about the app’s addictive features, potentially dangerous posts, and whether US user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government. A politician is threatening a nationwide ban on his TikTok unless ByteDance sells its stake in the app, China said. “strongly” oppose.
But that is not the only source of objection. Creators like Spangler, who sell their work online, worry about their livelihoods.
TikTok has emerged as a major part of the so-called creator economy, which has ballooned to over $100 billion annually. influencer marketing hubCreators forge profitable partnerships with brands, and small business owners like Spangler are leveraging the sizeable audience they’ve built on TikTok to promote their work and drive traffic to their websites.
“That’s the power of TikTok,” said Spangler, adding that the app drives a large portion of the sales for his business, The Good Chad. “They put a bolt of lightning in a bottle that other platforms haven’t been able to do yet.”
Spangler has over 200,000 followers on TikTok and his business made over $100,000 last year. Influencers His Marketing As of 2021, according to data from his hub, the average US influencer’s annual income was above his $108,000.
TikTok is booming in the United States, attracting more and more consumer attention from people who previously spent a lot of time on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. In 2021, TikTok will surpass his 1 billion monthly users. August A Pew Research Center study found 67% of US teens use TikTok, and 16% say they use it almost all the time.
Advertisers are chasing the eyeball.TikTok now controls his 2.3% of the global digital ad market, according to insider intelligence, trailing slightly behind Google, including YouTube. Facebook, including Instagram; Amazonand Alibaba.
But as Congress puts pressure on TikTok, the app’s role in the future of social media in the US is uncertain, as is the sustainability of businesses that have come to rely on TikTok.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Olivier D’Liery | Afp | Getty Images
April, Montana State Senator approved the bill As a result, TikTok will be banned in the state from next year. TikTok opposes the bill, arguing there is no clear way for states to enforce it.
Congress has already banned the app on government devices, and some US officials are looking to ban its use entirely unless ByteDance sells it.
ByteDance did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The White House also endorsed Bipartisan Senate Bill In March, the RESTRICT Act was called to give the Biden administration powers to ban platforms like TikTok. However, the bill’s momentum slowed dramatically after a significant backlash.
As the debate rages on, creators are at a loss.
Creators are looking to other platforms
Miami-based Vivian Tu is working to grow her audience and diversify her content across multiple platforms in preparation for a possible TikTok ban.
She started posting on TikTok in 2021 as a fun way to answer her colleagues’ financial and investment questions. By the end of her first week on her platform, her followers surpassed her 100,000. Last year, she left Wall Street and Tech for her media career to pursue content creation full-time.
Tu shares her videos to be a friendly face to financial professionals. Besides posting on TikTok, she uses her Instagram, YouTube and Twitter and also runs a podcast and weekly newsletter.
Tu says he began building a presence on multiple platforms before a potential TikTok ban entered the equation, and wants to spread his revenue streams wide enough to be okay with whatever happens. However, she called her work on TikTok, which has over 2.4 million followers, “proud and joyful.”
“It would be very disappointing to see the app get banned,” she told CNBC in an interview.
America’s top social media companies are gearing up to fill the void.
metaOwns Instagram and Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the company Financial results announcement Last month, users reshared videos more than 2 billion times a day, and that number has doubled in the past six months, adding, “We think short-form videos are getting shares.” Added.
snap and YouTube are pouring billions into their own short-video features to compete with TikTok.
Tu expects a “massive exodus” of creators to flock to other platforms if TikTok is banned, but said the app is unbeatable when it comes to discovering new and relevant content. .
“That’s why someone like me, who had no followers and no videos, created a video and got 3 million views on the first video,” she said. “It really doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
Emily Foster and stuffed animals.
Source: Emily Foster
Small business owner Emily Foster agrees. She said other media her platforms can’t come close to the type of exposure she gets from TikTok.
Foster designs plush toys and sells them through her Etsy shop and her website Alpacasews. She said she started sewing stuffed animals by hand as gifts for friends and on request. She said that when she got 1,000 views on (a small number for her these days), she felt confident about opening an Etsy shop.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this could be something,'” she told CNBC.
Foster’s designs quickly became popular on TikTok, where he now has over 250,000 followers. She recently shared a behind-the-scenes video of her packing all the stuffed animals for those who ordered them from her Etsy shop. The video quickly gained over 500,000 views of her and sold out all of her inventory in one day.
“The audience is not there”
Demand for Foster’s stuffing soon outstripped her handmade abilities, so she turned to crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise money to cover the cost of manufacturing.She recently raised over $100,000 kickstarter campaigncame after three of her videos went viral on TikTok.
“Without TikTok, my business wouldn’t be what it is today,” she said.
Foster is sharing content on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to try to grow her following as the threat of a TikTok ban looms. But it will be difficult, she said.
“Especially for smaller creators, the audience isn’t there,” she said.
Besides money, Foster worries about losing what she worked so hard to build. She said she met her “wonderful” friends, artists and other small business owners on her platform.
“You’re never alone. It means a lot,” she said. hurts.”
For the artist Spangler, the controversy surrounding TikTok is maddening not only because of what it means for his livelihood, but because legislators seem uninformed about the app’s capabilities. .
Spangler recalled a Republican congressman who asked Chu during his testimony whether TikTok would connect to users’ home Wi-Fi networks.
“Even if you have a working knowledge of technology, if you were watching the hearing, it would have just been very embarrassing,” Spangler said. I feel like this could be taken from me by people who don’t know how it works.”
Spangler poured his anger into the artwork. After the hearing, he designed a T-shirt featuring a zombie-like deputy with the phrase “Will TikTak use Wi-Fi?”
He shared a video about it on TikTok and made about $2,500 from T-shirt sales in less than two days.
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