In the battle to win over young voters, politicians are embracing social media, with TikTok emerging as a new battleground in this year’s general election.
National, the Greens, Act and NZ First are all embracing the popular video-sharing platform as a way to get their policies into the public eye.
The videos range from interviews with Act leader David Seymour to NZ First’s Shane Jones’ version of Don’t Stop Believing.
Labour is the last major party to pick up the app, with its first video dating from only a week ago.
Massey University marketing professor Bodo Lang says politicians and political parties need to be where the eyeballs are, and they aren’t where they used to be.
They needed to move with the audience and part of the audience – especially the younger part – was online, he said.
“It makes complete sense for political parties to embrace channels like TikTok to reach younger people.”
In response to questions on parties who are not utilising the platform, Lang said he thought it was a real weakness in a campaign.
“TikTok is one of the channels political parties, not-for-profits or businesses should be using if their target market is on there.”
There are an estimated 418,831 eligible voters in the 18-to-24 age group. At the end of July, just under 60 per cent were enrolled.
By election day in 2020, 78 per cent of that age group were enrolled, and 78 per cent of those who were enrolled went on to vote.
Seymour, who appears in several Act’s posts, said the party believed in providing a service to voters wherever they were.
“Sometimes that’s at a meeting in a town hall or sometimes a TikTok.”
The platform allowed Act to get across short messages on what the party stood for and what it could do for voters.
National is by far the most active party on the app, gathering 54,000 followers since November last year.
The Green Party has 13,400 followers while Act has 12,200.
Lagging behind is Labour, with just over 1400 followers, having joined the platform in August.
In the run-up to October 14, TikTok has added a pop-up directing viewers searching for anything election-related to the Electoral Commision’s website.
During the 2020 US election, TikTok launched an in-app guide to “election integrity”, which sought to offer transparency and accountability by bringing visibility into how TikTok worked to counter things like misinformation and hate speech.
Its policy ensured posts were removed if they pushed misinformation that incited hate or prejudice, misled community members about elections or other civic processes or were hoaxes or phishing attempts.
- Courtney Winter is a Christchurch-based reporter who covers both local and wider South Island stories. She joined the Auckland Newstalk ZB team in 2020 before moving to the Garden City in late 2021.
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