TikTok is still hugely popular with GenZ, but a combination of the discovery of several security flaws (which TikTok has always patched when highlighted) and Presidential displeasure, has put the spotlight on the app.
- A leaked Amazon memo asked employees to delete the app from their phones due to security concerns (only for the web giant to quickly backtrack on the issue).
- Wells Fargo asked some of its employees to delete the app over security and privacy concerns.
- The most popular gaming streamer in the world, Ninja, said he would be deleting the app due to “data farming” and creator content rights.
- President Trump is considering banning the app, and the Trump campaign has run Facebook ads criticizing TikTok.
The conversation around TikTok continues to grow at a rapid pace. Yet the privacy concerns seem to be similar to other social platforms.
The biggest difference is the politically charged nature of the tensions between the US and China. The issue highlights the importance of brands familiarizing themselves with the privacy and data practices of all social platforms.
So should brands abandon their TikTok campaigns?
TikTok continues to grow in popularity with its core audience. While it’s true that many teens and young adults could move on to the next big app if TikTok vanishes, many of them still stay loyal to the app, so we do not anticipate a drop in user numbers any time soon.
That said, we recommend that brands:
- Think, plan and prepare before launching into TikTok campaigns. If the brand hasn’t been involved in the platform yet, consider if it’s the right time to start and ask if the platform is right for your brand. For example, could privacy concerns present a real issue?
- Re-familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of all social platforms and apps. Both ones that the brand is currently working on and any that it is planning to launch campaigns on for the first time.
- Consider working with TikTok influencers to spread the brand’s message – this could mitigate risk while increasing clout.
- Be aware of who is doing your uploading. Restrict those who are logging into branded TikTok from personal devices and consider using a phone or device not linked to personal data.
As many analysts have pointed out, TikTok isn’t inherently bad, it has poor data practices or lax security. It has the same downsides that all social networks and apps possess. The difference is geopolitical. There are tensions between the country where the app originated (China) and the country that has most of its users (the US).