9 ways TikTok impacts the U.S. Economy across industries

These 19 creators & businesses will lose ~85% of their social footprint with a TikTok ban (and monetization opportunities), and I dive into the economic impact TikTok has had on small businesses, restaurants, the music industry, publishing, and more.

My analysis on the economic impact of TikTok on creators, SMBs, and the U.S.

Welcome back to Meagan’s Newsletter: The Gen Z POV, where I break down trends, industries, and tech with a Gen Z lens every other week. I’m Meagan and I’m so happy you’re here.

There’s been a lot of coverage in the news & on social platforms about the TikTok ban in the U.S. (my segment with BloombergTV here)… but the threat of the ban is beginning to feel more and more real.

On TikTok, my FYP has been full of Shou Chew (TikTok CEO) edits from the hearing, creators sharing their sad “goodbye" & thank you” videos, and others encouraging calls-to-action to try and stop the ban via petitions, calling your local representatives, etc.

As someone who spends an average of 23 hours a week on TikTok, consults companies on TikTok & Gen Z strategy, and has many creator friends on the platform — I know that banning TikTok is going to take away opportunities from so many people.

For those who don’t spend every waking hour on TikTok and are trying to understand how the ban will affect you, your friends, and your business… I’m going to do my best to contextualize the impact TikTok has had in the U.S. from an economic lens across industries. Specifically, 9 examples.

And more importantly, for each TikTok video and example I share below, I’ll share the impact of a TikTok ban for the individual creator or small business who made it — their social footprint across platforms & how TikTok plays into their ability to monetize.

Of the 19 creators & businesses I profile below, they have a combined following of 69.8M TikTok followers, 10.7M Instagram followers, and 9.5M YouTube followers. You’ll see first-hand how the TikTok ban will affect each of these creators & businesses, losing an average of 85% of their overall audience/social footprint if the ban gets approved.

My BloombergTV segment on how the TikTok ban will harm creators & founders.

This week I’m shouting out our friends at Female Founder World, the best place to meet your business besties online and IRL. Get their free 5-minute newsletter keeping 16k+ consumer brand builders in the know 🖤

Now… let’s get into it! ⬇️ Quick table of contents in case you’d like to hop around.

Economic Impact of TikTok for creators, businesses, and the U.S.

  1. Bringing support to local restaurants, experiences, and establishments (like the library)

  2. Crowdfunding to support those in need & give them a chance at a better life

  3. The rise of full-time creators supporting themselves through brand deals & content (from Gen Z to the elderly)

  4. Mass adoption of new technologies

  5. Kickstarting music careers & changing music discovery (and the charts) forever

  6. Revitalizing age-old industries like publishing (#BookTok)

  7. Introducing consumers to new products that translate to sales… especially within beauty

  8. Driving sales for small businesses and startups as a primary GTM strategy

  9. Introducing new career paths to a younger generation

1. Bringing support to local restaurants, experiences, and establishments (like the library)

First, let’s start with restaurants and Keith Lee. Keith has 11M+ followers on TikTok (up from ~1M in Nov 2022… absolutely explosive growth) and is known for his food reviews of local family-owned restaurants in Las Vegas. He uses his platform for good — he never charges restaurants for exposure, and his honest reviews of the food/establishments drive hundreds if not thousands of people to try the food… changing these local businesses (and owners) lives in the process.

Last week he reviewed Cocoa Asante, a chocolate company… within 33 minutes of Keith’s review, Cocoa Asante sold out (revenue for the day was up 900%). Within 24 hours, they had sold $24k worth of products (up 2,377% from the previous day). Because of Keith’s review “blowing up her business,” the owner is putting in her resignation to support the business full-time because she can now afford to pay herself.


#stitch with @cocoaasante Cocoa Asante 36 hour update 💕 would you try it ? 💕 God Is Amazing 🙏🏽 #foodcritic

And this is not a one-time thing.

  • Frankensons had 3 employees and were about to close their doors… now they have 27 employees & a non-stop line out the door for the past 3 months since Keith’s review.

  • Aroma Latin Cosina was about to close their doors… now they have a waitlist on the weekends and you have to call before you show up because it’s always packed.

  • Mr. Gary’s Las Vegas food truck went from making 1 sale a day to making $50k in 24 hours.

All of this because TikTok gave him a platform, which he’s used to support small family-owned restaurants.

Keith has 11.3M followers on TikTok. He only has 62k subscribers on YouTube and 644k followers on Instagram — only 6% of his audience on TikTok, his biggest platform.

Banning TikTok impacts Keith’s ability to do sponsored posts from big companies (priced based on his following) & monetize via TikTok’s creator fund (# of views)… but more importantly, it’s impacting the local family-owned restaurants that would benefit from a Keith Lee TikTok review in the future.

And this is just one example. Keith is a big influencer, but there are thousands of micro-influencers doing the same thing to drive traffic to local businesses.

This is one I saved in November 2021 from TikTok creator @tassjainnewyork sharing a list of Taylor Swift’s favorite restaurants in NYC (it was saved by 7k+ others as well), including Bubbys, Waveryly Inn, Locanda Verde, and The Spotted Pig.


Reply to @cowboyanica part 1!!! the queen has many 🤍 #nyc #nycfood #nycrestaurants #taylorswift

@tassjainnewyork has 28.5k followers on TikTok and 4.9k followers on IG. Her TikTok bio includes her email for business inquiries, whereas her IG bio does not — so she’s likely monetizing her TikTok. The ban will undoubtedly impact her ability to make $$$.

TikTok creators are not only fueling visits to local restaurants… their influence extends to experiences and other local establishments too.

This video sharing the benefits of having a Boston Public Library card was saved by 18k+ people, showing the TikTok community that you could get 4 free tickets to the aquarium and discounted rates to local museums. I wouldn’t be surprised if this video drove Gen Zers to visit the library for the first time.

In this video I saved from Aug 2021, TikTok creator @elizabethfow shared details about a fun NYC-based experience offered by bucketlisters.com — an old-fashioned brunch cruise on a 1920s boat that includes a 4 course meal and a drink (sounds fun right?!). It got 244k+ likes and was shared/saved by 36k people.


What an incredible experience with @newyorkbucketlist #bucketlist #nyc #thingstodoinnyc #SHEINcares #ny

@elizabethfow has 224k followers on TikTok, 78k followers on IG, and 8.41k subscribers on YouTube. TikTok is her biggest platform and she includes her email for business inquiries in her bio. Not to mention, NY-based startup & small business Bucketlisters.com also massively benefitted from the organic marketing here.

2. Crowdfunding to support those in need & give them a chance at a better life

@mdmotivator (aka Zachery Dereniowski) has 15.1M followers on TikTok, and is known for leveraging his platform to raise money and help change people’s lives who are in need.

Take this video he posted yesterday, which tells the story of a homeless father and his young son that has autism living out of their car and struggling to make ends meet. First, Zach surprises them with $1,000 in cash, and then brings them to a Lakers game (their first ever & in a Lambo no less!) where they get to meet all the players and sit court-side. A once in a lifetime opportunity.

BUT it goes way beyond that. Zach set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the family… and he’s raised $140k in 24 hours from ~8,000 donors. ALL BECAUSE OF TIKTOK. This video literally came up on my FYP this morning, and I see ~1 of these every week from Zach profiling a new person/family in need and rallying the TikTok community around them.


“We are currently homeless and my son has autism” 🥺❤️ (GoFundMe L1VE) #homeless #lakers #dad #family #kid #surprise #basketball #love

@mdmotivator has 15.1M followers on TikTok and 5.48M subscribers on YouTube (1/3rd of his audience on his main platform) and 2.8M followers on IG. The video above hasn’t even been posted yet on YouTube… so TikTok is 100% the driver of the funding raised to support Donald & Joseph and change their lives. Not to mention, GoFundMe is a U.S. based company and made money as well off of the transaction fees/donations.

@jimmydarts has a similar mission & style with his TikTok videos, raising money to help change people’s lives. He has 11.4M followers on TikTok, and the last video he posted 6 hours ago was of a single mom named Rene who recently lost a child (there’s more to the story, see below!) — Jimmy started a GoFundMe after posting the video to help her out, and it’s raised $27k in 6 hours.


“We just started over just him and I” 🥺❤️

@jimmydarts has 11.4M followers on TikTok, 1.2M followers on IG, and 2.66M subscribers on YouTube (23% of his audience on TikTok). The video above on TikTok has 625k views & 105k likes… the same video on YouTube has 41k views (6% of TikTok) and 8.8k likes (8% of TikTok). Banning TikTok is going to hurt creators like Jimmy and the people like Renee that he’s helping.

3. The rise of full-time creators supporting themselves through brand deals & content (from Gen Z to the elderly)

@megan.elizbeth is a single mom with 1.3M+ followers who’s been able to support her family because of TikTok — I’ve been following her content for a while (very wholesome & uplifting), and she also commented on Shou Chew’s TikTok to share why the platform has been so impactful for her.

2 days ago, she shared a video of her telling her 3 boys that Disney invited them on a free trip to Disneyland to celebrate the park’s 100th anniversary… all because Disney saw their videos on TikTok. The boys were really excited of course!

But the video I’ll share below is the one she posted today, a raw solo video of her getting emotional as she reflects on the incredible opportunity (seeing the itinerary for the first time, the character meet-and-greets Disney lined up, etc.)… all because of her community on TikTok. And her caption on the video reads, “One last adventure before TikTok gets stolen away.” 😢 


One last adventure before Tiktok gets stolen away. I guess a culmination in being hosted by Disney is a good way to go out with a bang! 💥😭... See more

@megan.elizabeth.x3 has 1.3M followers on TikTok, 1.48k subscribers on YouTube (<1% conversion from TikTok), and 100k followers on Instagram (10% conversion from TikTok). TikTok is her main platform as a creator that she uses to support her family — banning TikTok in the U.S. hurts single moms like Megan where her following is reduced to 1/10th of her total audience (and her ability to monetize her following is cut back as well).

Megan is just one example. There are plenty of Gen Z creators where TikTok (creator fund, brand deals, etc.) is their main source of income, or content creation is a side hustle.

And it’s not just Gen Z & single moms.

Look at 93-year-old @grandma_droniak with 7M followers — her link in bio leads to her merch store that includes hoodies that feature her famous sayings. She has 937k followers on IG and 521k subscribers on YouTube… but again, getting rid of TikTok eliminates 80% of her audience and all the traffic from TikTok driving to her merch store.

didnt want to get too dolled up because its a cemetery so ill look better than everyone no matter what

4. Mass adoption of new technologies

TikTok has done an incredible job creating trends through the use of sounds & filters, and these trends have fueled adoption of new technology beyond the TikTok platform… enter Generative AI.

Late last year, there was a trend fueled by hundreds of women to make a song to “Would That I” by Hozier and showcase avatars of you throughout history (created by generative AI). 214k+ people have used this sound with many playing into the trend — for many, it marked their first experience using a generative AI platform.

MyHeritage is not a U.S. based company, but there are countless other generative AI platforms that are making avatars that consumers have bought into (and have benefitted from trends leading to broader consumer adoption and thus downloads). Even this week, I’ve seen professional headshot companies go viral on TikTok.


But lowkey I look cute as a cowgirl #myaiheritage #ai #aiheritage #heritageapp #trend

5. Kickstarting music careers & changing music discovery (and the charts) forever

Last year I wrote a 30-page deep dive on TikTok & the music industry (read here), which unpacks why TikTok as an app is so special, but more importantly, how music/sound is the connective tissue that brings it all together and creates virality.

According to TikTok, out of the platform’s 1 billion users, 75% say they’ve discovered new artists to listen to on the app and 63% have been introduced to music they’ve never heard before thanks to trending TikTok songs.

Viral TikTok sounds/songs will routinely transfer over to listening charts. Last January, 4 out of 5 of Spotify’s Top 5 charting songs were “TikTok” songs. Just look at “abcdefu” by emerging artist Gayle, which was the #1 song on Spotify in January 2022… this song was literally created on TikTok in response to a comment, and now Gayle is opening for Taylor Swift on The Eras Tour & the song was nominated for a Grammy. You can’t deny the power of TikTok for emerging musicians.


Tiktok taking over the music world #tiktokmusic #spotify #applemusic #topsongs #netflix

Olivia Rodrigo is another perfect example showcasing the power of TikTok, helping her transition from Disney Channel star to international pop star after the viral release of her song “Driver’s License” on TikTok.

The day she released Driver’s License, it shot to #3 on iTunes and took over the app and most of social media. It hit #1 on the charts within the first week, and then proceeded to break Spotify’s record for most streams in a week worldwide. Her debut album Sour included a ton of other incredible hits which found fame on TikTok, like Good 4 U, Traitor, Happier, and Deja Vu. And as for Driver’s License, it continues to find success through the various user-generated mash-ups.

Oh and by the way, her debut album Sour is one of the most popular albums on Spotify ever & she had a sold-out tour in the U.S. at major venues like Radio City Music Hall. The economic impact of 33 shows in the U.S. between local operational spending by the venues & spending by out-of-town live event attendees is massive (a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone).

And the power of TikTok extends to music producers as well — because sound is such an integral part of the platform, you often see producers and every-day-people remixing sounds that go viral on the platform (and drive TikTok users to all the music they produce). This beautiful mashup by @carneyval of Olivia Rodrigo’s Driver’s License & Billie Eilish’s Ocean Eyes has over 25M views, 6M likes, 223k shares, and 729k saves.


Wait for it... 👀🔥 #billieeilish x #oliviarodrigo #mashup #fyp #foryou

@carneyval is a music producer with 3.6M followers on TikTok. He has 634k followers on IG, and 99k subscribers on YouTube... TikTok is his main platform to distribute his music.

6. Revitalizing age-old industries like publishing (#BookTok)

Lloyd Richards published a his debut novel, a thriller called Stone Maidens, 11 years ago but saw basically no sales… until his daughter made a viral 17 second TikTok video about his story and the novel last month.

That video went instantly viral with 52M+ views & 11M+ likes, and drove thousands of people to buy and read Stone Maidens… driving them to the #1 Best-Selling book on all of Amazon. TikTok changed Lloyd and his family’s lives.

@stonemaidens has 407k followers on TikTok which they’ve built up entirely in the past 2 months. This is their only & main platform, with the TikTok channel serving as their primary GTM funnel for promoting the book.

TikTok played a role in Stone Maidens viral success, but has also brought together the broader TikTok community to support book sales and authors all over the country… enter #BookTok.

#BookTok is full of authors promoting their books as well as TikTok community members sharing their reviews and recommendations of their favorite books. The hashtag has 118.9 BILLION views and is quite literally the biggest book club on the planet with detail and video reviews on nearly every genre.

I routinely source book recommendations from TikTok (ie: the viral It Ends With Us book by Colleen Hoover has 2.3B+ views… so I caved and read it), and this is one book list I saved from August 2021 of “Modern books I think will one day be classics” which features The Bookkeeper of Aleppo, The Book Thief, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Where The Crawdads Sing, and Such A Fun Age. These videos, and thus TikTok, meaningfully contribute to book sales (this video has 231k saves).


🌙🖤 and pretty much anything in @reesesbookclub #booktok #books #classics #modernclassics #bookshelf

@sianolwinkatrina has 68.3k followers on TikTok, 3.6k followers on IG, and 2k subscribers on YouTube. TikTok is her main platform. She has her own book that she's promoting, which is the first link on her Linktree in her TikTok bio.

Oh and #BookTok plays a huge role in book-to-movie releases. One of the biggest trending topics on TikTok today is actually The Hunger Games (10B+ views) with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes movie premiering in November.

The book was released in 2020 so people already know the plot, and I swear the production company/studio has been working overtime to make sure TikTok is hearing about the new movie. Literally my entire FYP is Hunger Games edits and content, especially analysis videos from @luckyleftie (729k followers on TikTok). I swear she’s on their payroll, making 80 Hunger Games breakdown videos since March 3rd (aka 3 videos a day) about the books and film adaptations. And… it’s working. You best believe I’ll be seeing this in theaters & I’ve also been telling all my friends about it. Comments on her posts include:

  • "If there’s one luckyleftie fan, it’s me. If there’s none left, then I’m dead”

  • “I rewatched all four movies today because of this account!!”


Replying to @claire.m789 a closer look at #anniecresta !

@luckyleftie has 729k followers on TikTok, yet only 10k subscribers on YouTube (no videos posted) which is the link in her bio (a 1% conversion of her fanbase). This woman is single-handedly reviving The Hunger Games fanbase, and will undoubtedly be impacted if TikTok is banned.

As we close out the #BookTok section, I’ll end with this video that perfectly describes how the BookTok community feels about the congressional hearings. The caption? “Maybe if congress was on PeetaTok they wouldn’t want to ban it 👀


Maybe if congress was on peeta tok they wouldnt want to ban it👀🤷🏻‍♀️ #capcut #peetamellarkedit #thehungergames

7. Introducing consumers to new products that translate to sales… especially within beauty

You thought #BookTok was big? #Beauty has 168 BILLION views, ushering in a whole new generation of influencers, makeup routines, and the famous “Get Ready With Me / #GRWM” videos.

I’ve written about Alix Earle before (the new TikTok it-girl with 4.8M followers), and her famous “get ready with me” videos are what skyrocketed her to popularity. The products she uses in her makeup routine videos immediately sell out, with many of her fans replicating her white eyeliner under-eye look and sprinting to Sephora to buy her shade of the Rare Beauty liquid blush. The last time I went to Sephora I ran into a girl looking for it and showing the store associate a screenshot of Alix’s TikTok… you can’t make this stuff up. And again, many of the products she’s using are U.S. companies — Drunk Elephant, Tarte Cosmetics, Rare Beauty, etc. She’s fueling beauty industry sales by the minute.

Alix has 4.8M followers on TikTok, 78.4k subscribers on YouTube (1.6% of her TikTok audience), and 2.4M followers on Instagram. By taking away TikTok, her main platform, she’d lose more than half her social media presence and following.

TikTok has brought forth a new level of authenticity when it comes to online personas… unfiltered looks, real emotions, no bullshit. It’s made content creation more approachable for the everyday person, helping to fuel broader trends like #SkinCycling which has 3.5BN+ views.

The Skin Cycling method was created by Dr. Whitney Bowe, a renowned, board-certified dermatologist who has 1M+ followers on TikTok and a namesake skincare brand called Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty (DWB).

People rely on TikTok as an education platform as well, and Dr. Bowe is a trusted source on all-things skincare. She’s leveraged the platform to build trust with her audience, introduce the world to the power of skin cycling (starting a literal trend), and market her DWB beauty products.


#duet with @e she nailed it!!!! 👊👊👊. #thatboweglow #skincycling #skintok #dermatologist

Dr. Bowe has 1.1M followers on TikTok, 33k subscribers on YouTube, and 180k followers on Instagram. By banning TikTok, you’re shutting off the main channel she uses to educate and build trust with her audience (as a founder and for her business).

8. Driving sales for small businesses and startups as a primary GTM strategy

I’ve mentioned examples above of creators converting their audiences to their businesses, but there are also thousands of small businesses and startups on TikTok that rely on the platform to drive sales. And their marketing is usually authentic to TikTok driving real impact for a Gen Z audience.

Take @habib.crafts that has 60k followers on TikTok — they’re a small business that sells funny and cute bumper stickers. This video of a new Harry Styles bumper sticker popped up on my FYP in August of 2022, and I bought it right within the app that very night. 11k+ other people saved this video, 65k+ liked it, and 900+ sent it to a friend.


his best preformance to date 😀💗 New bunper sticker for sale on my website and etsy! #harrystyles #xfactor #heysoulsister

@habib.crafts has 60k followers on TikTok and doesn’t link out to other social profiles. Instead, it links to habibicrafts.com, so TikTok serves as their primary top-of-funnel marketing. Banning TikTok will undoubtedly impact their sales and ability to sell in the future.

This same logic applies for startups too. I was a VC investor for the past 3+ years and saw plenty of consumer companies showcasing their TikTok metrics as a badge of honor and primary GTM function.

Duolingo wrote the playbook on leveraging viral TikTok strategy to drive downloads and awareness, boasting 6.3M followers on the platform and hundreds of millions of views on their content. They quite literally changed the way companies speak to Gen Z — crafting a unique voice (threatening to kill people for not doing their Spanish lessons), playing into trends, and using a mascot to relate to TikTok users.

There’s a real person with a job behind this content (Zaria Parvez, a fellow LinkedIn Gen Z Top Voice!) and hundreds if not thousands just like her who are responsible for leading company TikTok strategy. What happens to their jobs after a TikTok ban?


every time you open Google Translate, I lose a feather. #duolingo #swiftok #enchanted #languagelearning #trend #brandtok #comedy

@duolingo has 6.3M followers on TikTok, 556k subscribers on YouTube, and 860k followers on Instagram. By taking away TikTok, you take away 81% of TikTok’s social presence and community that they market to. Not to mention, potentially the jobs of the social media managers running those accounts.

Duolingo is a public company though with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding… they’ll land on their feet. But what about the early stage startups who don’t have the customer base or funding to rely on?

I look at an up-and-coming brand like Cheeky Bonsai that sells UTI products D2C and in stores like Target as a perfect example. The brand has 528k followers on TikTok, and their link in bio is their D2C website — so they rely on their TikTok marketing for conversion. With only 902 subscribers on YouTube and 18k followers on Instagram, banning TikTok takes away a big part of their GTM and countless hours of work their team has spent building it.

The TikTok ban affects big companies too. Last week I wrote a popular LinkedIn post about the way Microsoft Windows is leveraging TikTok to build community with the next-generation… and it’s largely through the lens of 1 creator, @emilyzugay, who has 4M followers.

Emily is a Gen Z TikToker known for redesigning corporate logos using “deadpan satire” and she’s the only account that @windows (1.9M followers) is following.

She generates an average of 25M+ views on every TikTok she makes mentioning Microsoft, and the Windows team goes above and beyond to bring creativity into this partnership… even putting Emily’s redesigned Windows logo outside their flagship location in New York for everyone to see IRL beyond the TikTok app.


#duet with @windows 🤝

Emily has 4M+ followers on TikTok, yet only 6.95k subscribers on YouTube and 171k followers on Instagram. Taking away TikTok takes away away 95% of Emily’s audience on social media, and views away from Microsoft for a key product (one of the largest public companies in the U.S.)

9. Introducing new career paths to a younger generation

Just like the "get ready with me” videos help TikTok users learn about new makeup products and how to use them… “day in my life” videos help accomplish a similar purpose for showcasing the behind-the-scenes of what various careers look like.

Last summer, @wishbonekitchen began going viral for her “day in the life” videos as a private chef in the Hamptons… several of her videos popped up on my FYP. They’re not just videos of her preparing the food — she’s responding to questions from the TikTok community on what her schedule looks like, how much she’s getting paid, and more. People want to know about her lifestyle as a private chef and if it could be attainable for them too!


Reply to @voteforknope cute little 17 hour work day 🥹 I’m technically on call but we always discuss a rough schedule for the meals beforeh... See more

@wishbonekitchen (aka Meredith) has 1.4M followers on TikTok, 609k on IG, and 22.6k subscribers on YouTube. 

A few weeks back, I made a new friend who’s a private chef in NYC! Unlike Meredith (@wishbone) who has a substantial following on both IG & TikTok, this friend has 200k+ followers on TikTok but less than 10k on IG.

Up-and-coming creators seem to be at the biggest disadvantage when it comes to the TikTok ban, with less followers to convert and often lower monetization.

And you might be asking how this ties into economic impact… while Gen Z might not apply to jobs on TikTok, you learn a ton by just being on the platform and engaging in your interests (many of which can apply to your side hustles, career, etc.). I like to think TikTok has served as a pipeline for many looking to break into certain career paths, and also place to learn about new careers for the first time. There are very few places where you can learn about career paths so organically and in a way that’s fun, entertaining, and authentic.

i.e. if I decided to become a private chef tomorrow, I’d probably start trying to find videos from current private chefs as a first stop.

It’s funny, this newsletter was originally going to be a “25 ways” newsletter instead of “9 ways”… but it’s now 3:10am and I am thoroughly exhausted. I decided the economic impact was the biggest chunk to cover (vs. the learning impact & connection impact) and most relevant to help persuade our government on the positives as Congress & the White House deliberate the future of TikTok. Might have to save the other two topics for a future edition 😉

This is something I’m obviously very passionate about. TikTok is my go-to source for breaking news, entertainment, conversation topics for my friends, inspiration for my creative work, and beyond. But I hope the above shows who the ban will really be impacting here… the thousands of creators & small businesses who fuel the platform, market themselves and their products (not to mention the economy), and make a living.

And as promised, here are a few things (tech, culture & life) I’m intrigued by at the moment.