How TikTok Revolutionised the Political Landscape
Digital natives who have grown up side by side with social media are now coming of age – and they’re doing so in a time of unprecedented political upheaval. We have seen people mobilise like never before in the last few years. The Arab Spring, the Ice Bucket Challenge and #MeToo were maybe the first of the big online waves that managed to get the momentum going globally: digital platforms have given ordinary people a voice like never before. The online world has become a place where people can come together and speak as one, often about very serious things. This is exactly what happened after Brexit, as well as during several general elections across Europe – countries such as France or Hungary saw an increased engagement from young voters through new technology platforms (and for very different reasons).
Understanding Political Involvement Among Young People
Political engagement among young people has been in decline for decades, and there are many reasons for this. One is that people simply do not feel that their votes matter. For the majority of young people, politicians are an overwhelmingly grey and middle-aged group that has nothing to do with their lives. This sentiment has only been exacerbated by the rise of social media, which has made people even more aware that the political class is very different from the general population.
However, there is a new generation of young people who are using social media to engage with politics in a way that is entirely different from anything we have seen before. This is the generation that grew up with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and they are using these platforms to hold politicians to account in a way that was previously unthinkable.
This is where the power of TikTok comes in.
The Rise of TikTok
TikTok is a social media platform that is based around short videos. It is incredibly popular with young people, and it has been growing exponentially in recent years. In October 2018, TikTok was the most downloaded app in the world. It is now available in over 150 countries, and it has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times.
It started out as a place to have fun, dance silly dances and remix segments of pop songs. You probably think that this is still the case, but you would be wrong. One incredible thing has happened since. TikTok overtook Google as the most visited website in 2021. What’s even more interesting is the fact that the GenZ population is actually using it as a search engine. The platform is leveraging this advantage heavily and has made adjustments to allow long captions, which gives users a chance to employ proper SEO tactics.
Political Involvement Through Social Media
There is one interesting technical design aspect of the app that creates a perfect ground for storytellers to create their own tribes. The initial screen, upon opening the app, doesn’t show a feed filled with videos made by your friends and contacts. It shows the explore page. It drags you down a rabbit hole of content that the algorithm has decided you will find interesting. And you usually do. This has led to many campaigns that started online and that would not have been possible otherwise. The main difference between political movements on social media and those on the ground is that they can happen in real time, and anyone can take part in them. TikTok has eliminated the problem of exposure that smaller movements have always had.
Do Young People Care About Politics?
New generations care about politics for a few different reasons. First, many are deeply connected to social issues, such as climate change and equality, which are now taking centre stage in political discourse. Many Millennials and Gen Z have also found inspiration in the new generation of politicians who have emerged, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Greta Thunberg. Finally, they are growing increasingly frustrated by the political system as it stands. Many want to see a different approach to politics than the old partisan gridlock – they want to see politicians take bold and innovative steps to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.
How TikTok Affected Political Discourse
TikTok has had a huge impact on political discourse for every recent election season, as it has allowed an entirely new group of people to participate in the discussion. Political activists have been able to reach a new audience and gain new followers, while people who have never cared about politics before have been exposed to new ideas and engaged in political discourse – they have been able to express their views and learn more about what is happening in the world around them. While it is too soon to tell what the long-term effects of TikTok’s political use will be, it is clear that it has made politics more accessible than ever before, and has given a voice to many new people.
Social media has revolutionised political participation and led to a completely new form of political engagement. It has allowed people to connect with one another and discuss political issues, and it has given them a platform to organise themselves and make their voices heard. It is up to the rest of us to adapt.
If you are considering trying out TikTok, but are not sure where to start, we can help you. Join our webinar on 2. February! We’ll go into technical details, strategies, and examples of good practice.