DES MOINES, Iowa-- Tik Tok is a short-form video app that was created in China and became available to the U.S in 2017. With 500 million users on the app, the mission as seen on the website is to inspire creativity and bring joy. The parent company, ByteDance, had no intentions of Tik Tok being used for political leverage. They even banned political ads from the app.
However, that didn’t stop users from posting reaction videos about their favorite candidates. That made campaigns take a closer look at how to engage voters on this platform.
“Social media platforms, especially the short form ones like Instagram and Twitter and Tik Tok are really focused on personality. Who is the candidate, what are they here to do. Who are they behind the scenes and what are some fun moments that you can capture with this person to make everybody see they're a real person,” Journalism Associate Professor at Drake University, Jennifer Glover Konfrst said.
Forty-percent of Tik Tok users are aged 18 to 24. That's prime voting age for first-timers and 10% of the population who will be eligible to vote in the 2020 election. So if a candidate wants to reach Generation Z, Tik Tok is where they can really make an impact.
The majority of the political content surrounding the 2020 election on Tik Tok is created by regular users rather than official accounts for candidates. This means that the audience has to feel like they know the candidate enough to post about them.
Konfrst says the early bird gets the worm when it comes to social media strategy. If one of these candidates finds a way to connect with the youth on Tik Tok, they have better chances of securing the Gen Z vote.
“First is best. So if you can get there first, earliest and become sort of the candidate who's known for being good at Tik Tok, you have an upper edge especially with the 18 to 24 demographic,” Konfrst said.