TikTok is the latest phenomenon in social media at the moment. Initially aimed at teenagers and artists creating entertainment content, the app has been downloaded more than two billion times since it was created in 2015.
With an audience that size, it’s not surprising that elected (and hoping to be elected) officials have started building a presence on the platform to reach the masses and win their vote or approval. From sharing their life as an MP behind the scenes to taking part in trending challenges and creating political explainers, many MPs, from millennials to boomers, are all having a go on TikTok.
But in a recent article by Joel Golby in The Guardian, his advice to MPs is “don’t.” After a slew of incidents where TikTok’ers posted unflattering memes and created parodies, the Labour establishment pushed its MPs to sign up to secure their usernames, regardless of whether they intended to use the platform or not. Perhaps a flawed strategy.
Golby goes on to outline three reasons: The first is the influx of MPs, and I suppose other politicians the world over, threaten to dilute the “lawlessness and chaos” (read fun) of the early days of the platform, making it, well, more like the current state of Instagram. Second, MPs are in no way prepared for “how skilled the young people who use the platform every second of every day are compared with any MPs looking to join up.” And third, there is a deep disconnect between what an MP, who can barely grasp the concept of Twitter, will post and what the TikTok-verse will value and accept as authentic. Undoubtedly, the users of TikTok trend towards Labour already. Why spoil it with miscommunication.
With that said, some MPs have been quietly building a sizeable TikTok following, posting videos about their campaigns, participating in Q&As, and sharing insights into their personal and professional lives. Perhaps not surprisingly, the younger parliamentarians are taking the lead. Labour’s Zarah Sultana, 28, is the most popular MP on TikTok, with more than 375,000 followers and 5.9 million likes.
On the other side of the Chamber, Dr. Luke Evans, 39, has 22,000 TikTok followers, the highest of any Tory MP. He admits TikTok is not where many of his voters are but instead sees the app as a chance to do research into digital platforms, share educational content and promote his campaigns.
No matter how you look at it, TikTok is leading the influencer game and, as a result, is a significant source of information that should be closely monitored. Our approach is to use our vast influencer database (including the brave MPs who made the leap) to follow critical conversation threads for our clients.
Reputations can be destroyed in the blink of an eye, so it is vital that companies and politicians communicate their core values to stakeholders and monitor what is being said in real-time. Social360 recently launched its Social Media Due Diligence report based on our proprietary search technology, a database of influencers, and years of monitoring and analytical experience, working with some of the highest-profile brands and companies in the world. If you need help or have questions, please contact Alex Baker or Giles Brown or visit our website – www.s360group.com – for more information.