Social Commotion: TikTok Ban, Instagram’s Search Updates & More

Welcome to the latest edition of Social Commotion, Motion’s roundup of social media news. Check out our top updates from March 2024.

Is a Real TikTok Ban Approaching?

In a rare bipartisan action, the House passed legislation to effectively ban TikTok with a vote of 352-65. This legislation marks the furthest federal legislation targeting TikTok since lawmakers began wondering whether the app’s Chinese ownership jeopardizes national security. The law that would force TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell or shut down the app is now before the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has yet to state when he will bring the plan to the Senate floor, laying the groundwork for a potentially lengthy process to pass it. Some senators, including Rand Paul, are concerned that the plan may violate free speech.

We’ve talked about how brands and advertisers can better leverage TikTok and other social media platforms for their marketing efforts. If this ban does happen, many believe that creators and their followers will spend more time on existing platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat.

Instagram Updates Hashtag and Search Experience

Speaking of Instagram, the social media platform’s most recent update broadens search results for hashtags. When you click on a hashtag, you will now see full search results for that topic instead of only seeing the top posts.

“We’re simplifying the hashtag and search experiences on Instagram to make it easier to see everything in one place,” Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, wrote on Threads. “Now, when you tap on a hashtag, you’ll see the search results for that hashtag. You will still be able to follow/unfollow or report specific hashtags. Hope this makes it easier to find accounts and posts that are relevant to your search.”

Although not a radical change to the app, it is a strategic one that may impact profile discovery, broaden discovery within the app and expand user search behaviors. The update could also emphasize the need to ensure that a brand’s target keywords are included in their profile to maximize discovery in the “Accounts” display.

March Madness Ad Sales Hit Revenue Records

With CBS Sports and TNT Sports broadcasting all 67 games of the men’s March Madness tournament on four national television networks—TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV—the two networks have “basically sold out” of ad space for this year’s men’s March Madness tournament. 

“This will be the best revenue tournament we’ve ever had,” said Warner Bros. Discovery’s Executive Vice President of Ad Sales, Jon Diament, during a virtual press conference . “We’re setting revenue records here.”

Before the tournaments started, Diament stated that the advertising on the live streams would be the same as those seen by linear viewers, whereas March Madness Live will have different commercial logs. And the Women’s Basketball Tournament is also ready for an explosive year with ad space for the women’s March Madness tourney also selling quickly, according to media buyers.