Apr 8, 2024 - News

TikTok PR push touts economic impact in Michigan

Illustration of three dollar signs rendered similarly to the TikTok logo

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

TikTok is touting its economic impact in Michigan and elsewhere through a newly commissioned report, amid increased scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers.

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

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

By the numbers: The report based on surveys says that in Michigan, 165,000 businesses and 3.7 million people — roughly a third of the population — are active TikTok users.

  • 87% of small and midsize businesses said sales increased after promoting on TikTok and 63% said the platform helps them connect with more audiences, the survey showed.
  • 67% of Michigan users spent money on local events or businesses after seeing content on TikTok.
  • It also claims Michigan businesses' use for advertising and marketing contributed $690 million to the gross domestic product.

Zoom in: Alice Nguyen, owner of 88 Banh Mi & Bowl in Warren, told CBS News Detroit using TikTok increased her income.

  • "At first, I thought it was for fun, I never thought I'd put my business into it. And then I really put my business into it and now it's important to my business," Nguyen said.

What they're saying: TikTok insists the report has been in the works for more than a year and its release is not timed to ongoing regulatory battles, a spokesperson said.

The big picture: Coincidence or not, TikTok has 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.
  • It's also undeniably influencing where users shop and eat, and how they interact with their communities.

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

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.


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