TikTok ban would hit many users where it hurts — their pocketbook

Delyanne Barros has a lot riding on whether TikTok survives in the U.S. The 41-year-old personal finance and money coach, who built a financial consulting company from the ground up, said a ban of the popular social media app could wipe out as much as 30% of her business overnight. 

Barros, who goes by @delyannethemoneycoach on TikTok, isn’t sure if she’d even be running her own business today were it not for the Chinese-owned app, which faces a potential ban if a bill passed by the House on Wednesday eventually makes it into law. 

“I started my business in January 2020 and went full in on TikTok,” Barros told CBS MoneyWatch. “That’s where a lot of my content started going viral, and it catapulted my business. It was an integral part of how I grew it in the beginning,” 

TikTok doesn’t pay Barros directly; rather, it’s how upwards of 30% of her clients find her and ultimately purchase her investing course. The rest of her clients have found her through other social media apps, internet searches and word of mouth. She also makes money through brand-sponsored posts on social media platforms including TikTok.

“A ban would result in me losing a major part of my business. I would definitely feel a hit,” she said.

Why is Congress trying to ban TikTok? Expert explains 03:41

Barros is hardly alone. Many of TikTok’s 170 million monthly active U.S. users rely on the app to generate secondary and even primary income streams. That includes 7 million small businesses that use the platform to drive growth, according to a joint report from Oxford Economics and TikTok released Wednesday. 

Thirty-nine percent of small businesses say that access to TikTok is critical to their businesses’ existence, while another 39% say TikTok has allowed them to generate supplemental or principal incomes through their activity on the app, according to the report. Sixty-nine percent of small businesses say TikTok has led to increased sales in the past year. 

“It’s how people discover us”

Tori Dunlap, founder of a money and career platform Her First $100K, said TikTok “was absolutely fundamental” to the growth of her business, securing a book deal and launching a podcast. Her viral videos have helped her amass 2.4 million followers on TikTok over four years. Her popularity on the platform has also led to lucrative brand partnerships and new clients for her coaching services. 

“TikTok is the top of the funnel in terms of our customer journey. It’s how people discover us,” Dunlap told CBS MoneyWatch.

Sophie Beren, founder and CEO of The Conversationalist, an education platform that empowers young people to have conversations and create community, said banning TikTok would be “devastating” for content creators who use the service to make money. 

“They are struggling with a potential ban because we are living in a world where it’s impossible to have one traditional path for income. The traditional path for young people doesn’t guarantee economic success or stability like it used to,” Beren said.

Tiffany Yu, founder of Diversability, a for-profit advocacy group and community provider for people with disabilities, is also afraid of what a potential ban would mean for her business.

Yu’s advocacy group makes money selling memberships and through corporate sponsorships. She credits TikTok with growing her reach large enough to secure major brand partnerships, including deals with Hilton and Dove. All told, the deals acquired through TikTok account for more than 50% of Diversability’s revenue. 

For Yu, a ban could mean going back to her bootstrapping roots, when she made ends meet in the early days of running Diversability by renting part of her apartment and selling used furniture. “I would like to not have to go back there, but if that’s what we had to, then we would do it,” she said. 

TikTok bill that could lead to ban faces uphill climb in the Senate 02:44

Barros, the money coach, said that while a TikTok ban would hurt her business, it wouldn’t destroy it. “Like any business, you need to diversify, and I use Instagram and Threads and all the other platforms, too,” she said. 

But TikTok offers a unique advantage for people like herself, Barros said, because its algorithm is more effective at feeding audiences tailored content that they’re likely to engage with.

Still, she’s preparing for a potential TikTok ban. “I use other platforms, but I have also been building an email list that I own,” Barros said. “I feel secure that my business will continue to grow and thrive.” 

More Megan Cerullo img-6153.jpg

Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News Streaming to discuss her reporting.

Leave a Comment