Small businesses in NY prepare for potential TikTok ban

ROCHESTER, NY — A vote in the House to ban TikTok has users concerned for the future of their business marketing strategies.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been able to connect with Tempest Paige since she created her account in December 2019.

“I had one random video get a ton of attention, and then two weeks later, lockdowns came and I couldn’t work at the store any more. So I started to film TikTok just on my own at home,” Tempest explained. “From there, my account slowly started to grow and grow. And then, by the time that I was able to go back to work again, I had almost 300,000 followers. And then from there, I started to make more TikToks about the shop and everything just exploded.”

By the click of a button, Paige has created her own community on the social media platform.

“Right now, I have about half a million people on TikTok,” Paige said.

In the five years she’s been a user, Paige has used her platform to help market her business, Sweet Poison Cupcake. It’s an alternative fashion and anime shop, themed after Paige’s passions.

“When I was in high school, I always dreamed like, one day I’d love to have my own shop, one day maybe I’ll sell clothes one day. That could be my job. And I didn’t think that one day would be when I was 19. And now I’m 29 and I’m still doing this, and I never in my wildest dreams that I thought this would be my life,” Paige smiled.

Since starting her TikTok, she says her business has doubled. She uses her page to advertise new merchandise, connect with people across the country and even make some new friends.

“TikTok has contributed not just to my shop success, but also like Rochester’s success and other local businesses. On TikTok, that attributes like increased foot traffic, increased social media awareness to TikTok. And on a personal note, I actually met my husband on TikTok. So it’s changed in more ways than just my business — it’s changed my life,” Tempest explained.

She says it’s given her opportunities to collaborate with other brands, and learn new skills to help get her name out there.

“It’s so cool like the number of companies I’ve had an opportunity to work with and the collaboration aspect is so much and, you know, you get to kind of like, have a backseat to see like how things are working and how advertising works. And then I like learned all these tips and then was able to implement that in my own business, which is really cool,” she explained. “TikTok has made me way more confident in myself. I never really made content where I’m talking and I’ve always thought that I have an annoying voice and because of TikTok, I’m more open to being funny and being my goofy self and now just, you know, on Instagram taking perfectly posed pictures like on TikTok, I can be goofy and I can be silly and people really like that.”

However, with a potential ban on her primary way of marketing, she’s worried about the financial burdens it could leave on her business.

“You’re losing an aspect of marketing and that should have any business worried because with better social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, they prioritize bigger businesses,” Paige said. “Whereas Tiktok I do think gives more of a voice to smaller businesses, to independently-owned businesses, to women-owned businesses; people of color to LGBTQ+ businesses, and those businesses need that attention more than bigger businesses, and I feel like losing that is potentially problematic, not just for my business, but any business that fits that criteria.”

She says other platforms have worked, but the cost of advertisements quickly adds up for small business owners.

“The TikTok ban is a little frustrating to deal with just because as a business owner, we’ve used Facebook, and we use Instagram and those worked out well for us in the beginning, but as any social media platform goes on, in order to reach your full audience, they really incentivize paying for ads; paying for a business account. And with TikTok, going viral is way more random that just paying attention,” said Paige.

As the waiting game continues, she’s preparing a new plan for her worst case scenario.

“If TikTok is banned, and we are unable to access it on our phones here in America, I will continue to make content on Instagram. “I will continue to make content on Facebook,” said Paige. “I will see other ways to get my voice out there and have my voice be heard.”

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