Are you able to explain your campaign in less than 90 seconds? Can you do it while dancing? You might need to learn if you want to spread your message via one of the most popular social platforms for 16 to 24-year-olds.
The Chinese video-sharing platform known for its short videos (15 seconds to one minute), usually featuring people dancing, doing comedy or just goofing around, has 80 million users in the United States alone and more than 689 million users worldwide as of January 2021. It tends to appeal to younger users with 41% of its users between the age of 16 and 24. A whopping 90% of them use the app daily. With an engagement rate of over averaging between 14% and 18% depending on the size of account, one viral video can reach a lot of young people who are still exploring their political beliefs.
North99 seems to be showing how a Canadian political organization can tap into this demographic. They are an independent network of Canadian activists whose mission is to advance progressive policies and ideas by using media, advocacy and campaigns. With over 100,000 supporters, their aim is to create political conditions that benefit Canadians and not just the rich.
North99 is known for their aggressive, in-your-face campaigns which sometimes generate controversy, which may explain why they seem to be prospering on TikTok.
North99’s TikTok contains content that is snappy, creative, smart, informative and engaging. With a plethora of visuals, often layered on top of each other, with vivid banners, catchy music from popular themes as well as innovative memes, North99 gets its point across by targeting politicians and pundits who are ripe for some skewering.
Most accounts on TikTok are of individual people. One political leader who is doing really well is NDP leader Jagmeet Singh who has almost 600 thousand followers. Posting about every other day, his posts are regularly seen by tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands.
Other political leaders popular with young people have opted not to. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has declared that she will not have a TikTok, likely because Donald Trump made the app persona non-grata in the US as part of efforts to instigate anti-Chinese sentiment during the 2020 election. Annamie Paul of Canada’s Green Party has also declared that she’ll not be on the platform.
The audience of TikTok is primed to hear about social justice issues. For example, by popular request, the platform has made captioning automatic for all accounts to ensure accessibility. This is a user base of people who understand inclusion and support diversity.
Similarly, as of June 2021, TikTok has a new feature called Jump which allows creators to link their videos to actions. Now you can get your members to click a link to fill out a questionnaire, fill out a petition or otherwise answer a call to action. This puts the possibility of digital action into this very viral platform. Likewise, with videos being up to 3 minutes, creators now have more time to explain their ideas.
The key to TikTok is a willingness to experiment and iterate through different formats as the memes evolve. Both North99 and the NDP seem to have decided to give this a try and are finding good results! Will your organization be next?
What are some of the tricks with using TikTok as a Political Organizer?
- Create regular content. The trick is to make a lot of it and to do it regularly, and see what works. Once a day, if possible.
- Try a bunch of different things. You never know what might take off and trends move very fast on TikTok.
- Respond to other content quickly, as in days and not weeks or months.
- Use a URL to a link tree page or directly to your website and your Calls to Actions.
- Be authentic, young people can smell a square a mile away.
- Share stories and provide value.
- Use trending hashtags.
- Use trending songs.
- Share original content.
- Make sure the beginning of your TikTok is attention-grabbing.
- Be the first to comment.