Apr 4, 2024 - Business

TikTok's latest PR push touts economic impact

Illustration of three dollar signs rendered similarly to the TikTok logo

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

TikTok is publicizing its economic impact through a newly commissioned report amid increased scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers.

Why it matters: The report, which the platform is actively pitching to media and posting across its channels, has the potential to tap into a key bipartisan issue — the economy.

Catch up quick: In March, the House quickly passed legislation that could lead to a TikTok ban, and President Biden has promised to sign it if it passes the Senate.

What they're saying: TikTok insists the new report has been in the works for over a year and its release is not timed to ongoing regulatory battles. It's just happenstance, according to a spokesperson.

The big picture: Coincidence or not, TikTok has already proved it can mobilize young constituents — many of whom flooded congressional phone lines ahead of last month's TikTok House vote.

  • The company has placed a seven-figure ad buy featuring the hashtag, #KeepTikTok.
  • A majority of the spending will go toward national and local TV ads and notably will run in battleground states including Nevada, Montana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
  • The #KeepTikTok campaign will also appear in out-of-home digital advertising — like billboards and bus stops — and across social media.

Between the lines: This playbook is similar to the one Airbnb used in 2017 to push back against regulatory scrutiny, especially at the local level.

  • TikTok has singled out its impact in 18 specific states — including Georgia, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania and California — with plans to share the platform's contributions across all 50 states in months to come.

By the numbers: The platform generated $14.7 billion for small- and mid-sized businesses and contributed $24.2 billion to the economy in 2023, per the report, which was first shared with the Washington Post.

  • Roughly 7 in 10 small- and mid-sized businesses believe TikTok has led to an increase in sales, the report states.
  • Small-and-mid-sized businesses in California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois saw the most significant rise in revenue and job creation, per the report.

What to watch: By promoting its economic impact and contributions, TikTok — whether intentionally or not — sets up a strong counterpoint that could appeal to legislators and voters ahead of the 2024 election cycle.

Go deeper: House passes bill that could lead to TikTok ban

Go deeper