Wherever people are headed next, politicians are attempting to establish a presence and a foothold. TikTok for politicians is all the rage nowadays. The wager is that those who use it as their preferred social media will be the voters and contributors of the ensuing five to ten years. But how do you execute it correctly? According to many authors, the most difficult challenge is passing the teen eye-roll test. Other obstacles include the need to be completely authentic and to keep videos brief.
You can connect with old friends on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, take pictures with new ones, follow the tweets of people you know or celebrities you sort of know, or look at curated images from everyone's best Insta-lives. TikTok is an entirely different platform. You go there to enjoy the company of strangers. Watching videos made by people you don't know or have any connection with is typically a passive experience. Rather than bringing you closer to your own community, it is about sampling from a vast, exciting, but unfamiliar, and mostly anonymous world. What you watch is not driven by who you are friends with but by an algorithm that feeds you more of whatever you watch.
The optimistic interpretation of this scenario for politics is that it will give politicians opportunities to reach audiences they otherwise might not be able to access. What you see on TikTok is determined more by your whims than by your network of friends. They may find ready audiences for their ideas even among viewers who don’t share their party or other allegiances. In real life, the political messages you see on Facebook and Twitter are frequently echoed in the chambers of the alliances and social structures in which we live.
All of us must know that we are the ones who determine what we see on TikTok. This idea of the chance to reach out to teens and young adults at the most flexible and formative years in their lives, even if candidates might not be on the political side that their friends, relatives, and favorite celebrities suggest for them, is what politicians want. Although there is a search bar, most users just open the app and begin watching.
If you want to win, you have a generation that hasn't been reached and cares deeply about issues but doesn't vote frequently because they don't believe they have a representative who will speak for them.
Young social media users can recognize "in a heartbeat" if a video isn't genuine or if a politician relied on an intern for direction. For the politicians who get it right, though, you can see them, hear them, and feel their passion. It's hard to hear passion in a few characters on Twitter and through pictures on Instagram.
So, if you are a politician and do not have humor or, more importantly, passion, don't go on TikTok. You will do more damage to your campaign with your fake feelings than your opponent.