Baylor social media team ready to adapt if TikTok leaves U.S. app stores

TikTok's future as a platform for American users has come under siege, and the app might be removed from use entirely as soon as the middle of November. AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

By Carson Lewis | Assistant Digital Managing Editor

Baylor’s TikTok account aimed at potential new students might soon become obsolete as the app’s future in America remains uncertain, with the platform on the brink of unavailability on Google and Apple app stores across the U.S.

District Judge Carl Nichols from the District of Columbia, halted this, allowing the app to remain available. It is yet to be seen if the app will survive past November 12, when the app will be bereft of any American companies’ services, making the app impossible to use in the States.

President Donald Trump has criticized the app before, due to alleged security concerns over the app’s parent company ByteDance’s ties with the Chinese government.

Baylor’s TikTok account, which was started in July of last year, has attempted to focus on the 13-17 year-old demographic in an attempt to reach potential college applications and the next generation of Baylor students. The team has been forced to make content for the platform in the face of the daunting legal cases of the app.

Taylor Torregrossa, social media specialist with Baylor digital marketing, described the importance of reaching the important group of high-school students and young adults with their messages.

“If we just cut off Tiktok, we would be missing out on connecting with that major demographic. If we’re not reaching future students, [students] won’t be coming to Baylor, and Baylor ceases to exist,” Torregrossa said, laughing. “We’ve been monitoring it, keeping up with everything that’s going on, we’re just kind of trucking along until maybe we can’t anymore.”

The social media team expressed their doubts that the app would fully go away, and Carlye Thornton, a media analyst and adjunct faculty with the university, said she believed the platform has the advantage against the pressure.

“As far as we’ve seen, the government has had a hard time keeping TikTok out of the US. I feel that internal struggle will continue, but ultimately feel it’s around for the long haul,” Thornton said.

Instagram released ‘Reels’ in August, in an apparent attempt to compete with the quick-video-set-to-music style of viral Tiktoks. Torregrossa said that she wasn’t quite sold on the value of Reels in comparison to TikTok, saying that the key demographic hasn’t shown an interest in Instagram’s newest feature.

“I think that [the] younger demographic doesn’t want to jump ship to a different platform, because honestly, Instagram is an ‘old person platform’ to them, it’s like how Facebook is to [Millennials] … It’s like when our parents joined Facebook,” Torregrossa said.

On the university’s website on official social media ‘Best Practices,’ building an audience is stated as an important goal of any project.

“Investing time in posting without investing time in getting an audience is counter-productive. An ‘if you build it, they will come’ plan is good for a movie plot, but not for a social media platform,” the site reads.

The focus on developing the audience is key to accomplishing the delivery of the Baylor social media team’s message. Members of the team expressed a desire to follow the demographics where they lead and said that sites like YouTube might become havens for young people eager for online content if TikTok becomes unavailable in the U.S.

Whereas TikTok’s short videos and music allow a certain kind of content, the team expressed a desire to produce more vlog-like content for the YouTube market.

When talking about the kind of work that Baylor social media wants to continue working on in the future, members of the team expressed a desire to tell meaningful, raw and real stories about the Baylor experience.

“I think we’d collectively like to share more student stories. Those aspects of the Baylor experiences benefit future Bears and the current Baylor Family,” Thornton said.

Torregrossa echoed many of the same sentiments.

“For me personally, I’d like to see us continue trying new things, tackling bigger and more intentional conversations,” Torregrossa said. “Showing the student experience in meaningful and unique ways.”