The 2020 Presidential election was unprecedented in many ways- voter turnout, record absentee voting in light of the pandemic, and the use of TikTok, the latest social media platform that could be a game-changer for the upcoming Georgia Senate Runoff Election.
With restrictions or limitations on many traditional in-person campaigning events and tactics (such as door-to-door canvassing), activists on both sides of the aisle had to readjust their campaign strategies while also reaching first-time voters.
While TikTok, like other social media platforms, banned paid political posts on its platform, it did not prohibit users from posting unpaid political content or sharing their own opinions. Some users simply talked to their followers while others performed short skits or songs. MemePAC, a pro-Democrat teen-centric activist group, used TikTok to share memes and videos that mocked Trump well as created interactive features and games to engage with potential voters.
For example, users who subscribed to “Trump Trivia” and shared their phone number with the PAC received daily memes with “one of Trump’s many mistakes every day until the election.” Meanwhile, the “TikTokers For Biden” account, which includes over 400 creators with more than 200 million followers (mostly teens) has accumulated 850,000 followers and about 13 million likes while on the Republican side, the Conservative Hype House account, has 1.5 million followers on TikTok, supporting the Republican candidates. Now both sides are turning their focus to Georgia.
In an interview with The Hill, Alicia Novoa, director of engagement at the youth-led Future Coalition, noted that many of the same techniques that had been used during the presidential election were also being employed for the January 5 special runoff election on behalf of Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia, stating: “I think we’re really building off of that momentum that we’ve built up and going a step further and really becoming creative with it and letting young people take the lead.”
She continued to detail how Future Coalition partnered with a group called Gen-Z for Change, previously known as TikTok for Biden, last week for a virtual phone and text banking event in support of the Democratic candidates. The event used Zoom breakout rooms to let volunteers virtually phone and text bank with popular TikTokers who combined had more than 5 million followers.
Politics aside, the “Tok the Vote” campaign, which was focused on encouraging users of the digital platform to post a short video with the #TokTheVote hashtag and update their profiles to include the campaign’s image, likely inspired many young people to register and vote for the first time. How many of them are in Georgia? The answer is unclear, but if Georgia mirrors the national election, many members of the latest generation will likely be making their voices heard for the first time on January 5.