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TikTok and UK politics

Was the biggest shock last week that Corbyn was sent packing by such a margin, OR that some people made TikToks about the election?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to stretch credulity and claim it was the latter. BUT, there were the signs of something meaningful for the years to come.

TikTok is experiencing the heady combination of both serious user growth AND also the sort of cult-usage which marked out Twitter and Vine back in their early days. Instagram, despite being a juggernaut, never quite had the explosive meme content which allows you to spot platforms going hyper. Snapchat never quite made it happen (maybe it yet will: spoiler – it won’t).

So what was happening? Well, a summary of key things we picked up:

  1. Boris beat Corbyn for interest. Note interest and support are not neccessarily the same, but as measured by views on hashtags, the blonde bombshell edged it

  2. The finest traditions of politicial satire were alive and well in content formats

  3. Policy featured surprisingly highly

  4. There were some kids who back the Tories. Seriously

  5. The best performing were funny, not angry. Angry, ranty TikToks (this time round firmly belonging to Corbyn-backers) routinely delivered fewer relative engagements than those using satire to make their point

  6. Personalities worked – i.e. people transferring typical celeb-fandom tropes to politicians

Scale-wise, TikTok was hardly blowing up with election fever. That being said, for a relatively nascent platform, it had some scale, delivering impressions in the millions. Certainly showing more political tone than Instagram, I’d pick it to be a feature of issues-based campaigning over the next few years


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