Apr 23, 2024 - News

How a TikTok ban could impact Denver's social media influencers

Animated illustration of the TikTok logo glitching and turning into a no symbol.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Denver's TikTok stars are caught in the crosshairs of a pending ban of the app.

Why it matters: Local content creators and small business owners depend on TikTok to build their brands and boost their bottom lines.

The latest: The U.S. House on Saturday passed a bill that would end the platform's use in the U.S. if China-based ByteDance doesn't sell its stake within a year.

  • U.S. lawmakers are concerned that American TikTok users' data could be harvested by the Chinese government and the platform could be used for propaganda.
  • TikTok has fought vehemently against the legislation and promised to protect the privacy of its U.S. users by storing its data with Texas-based Oracle.

What they're saying: "TikTok has been an incredible resource," and "I've gotten job offers and media features from people who found me" through the platform, Amanda Bittner, who has gained over 50,000 followers since joining in 2020, tells us.

  • It's also helped her earn a living. Payments for promoting brands and businesses, from bars to Airbnbs, have been as high as $2,000 for a single campaign, she notes.

Local real estate agent Andrew Vascassenno has also used the platform to build his business.

  • "About 35% of my clients last year, and even flowing into this year, have come from social media," says Vascassenno, whose TikTok has more than 40,000 followers.

The other side: Some TikTok videos spotlighting local restaurants have meant too much of a good thing after they've gone viral.

  • In January, Toro Food Concepts in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood saw a surge in much-needed foot traffic after a short TikTok video about how it was struggling took off.
  • The owner hired more people to address the rush, CPR reports. But the crowds have since calmed and weekdays have become unpredictable, complicating Toro's business model.

What's next: As the proposed ban heads to the Senate for further debate — and likely approval — local content creators are nurturing their accounts on other platforms, like Instagram, to ensure they have a backup plan if TikTok is taken away.

  • Even if the ban becomes law, however, it's unlikely to happen quickly due to expected challenges in the courts.

The bottom line: "I feel confident that I could continue my brand and my business on my other platforms," Bittner says, but a ban would be a "huge bummer … because I'd lose an audience of 54,000 people who I've built a relationship with and who know, like and trust my expertise in my content."

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