NEW DELHI: Political agencies, campaigners and strategists are weighing how to ramp up their presence and content on TikTok for the future elections as the Chinese video-sharing app gains popularity in India.
Although Bytedance-owned TikTok has stated that it would not allow political ads on the platform because there’s a mismatch with the experience, digital agencies and marketers said there are ways of promoting the desired political content on the app. “We are considering TikTok very seriously for elections. It has emerged as an addictive platform for the youth. As an organisation, we will try to leverage it in a way that will not seem political,” said Naresh Arora, director of DesignBoxed, which managed campaigns for Congress in the recent Haryana Assembly elections and also handled its social media campaign in the general elections.
Instagram was popular during the general elections but platforms like TikTok have now caught up. “TikTok’s credibility, which was previously under a cloud, has gone up. TikTok will be big in terms of opinion making in the upcoming elections. It’s all about how creatively advertisers and users leverage the platform,” he said.
TikTok has 200 million users in India. Following a temporary ban by the Madras High Court earlier this year, and a week after it became available again on app stores in India, TikTok had stated in May that it had reclaimed the top spot among free apps on the iOS platform and in the social category on the Google Play Store on Android. Market intelligence firm Sensor Tower said TikTok was the most downloaded app globally in the first quarter of 2019 with 188 million downloads. India accounted for 47% of the downloads.
Rahul Jain, founder of Social Rajneeti, which works on constituency-based campaigns for candidates in states like Maharashtra, said political leaders have been asking if something could be done using the platform. “They want to figure out ways of how to go about it. Storytelling styles would work on a platform like TikTok, instead of hardhitting political content,” he said.
Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, chief executive and co-founder of digital agency Gozoop, said that though many political parties did not have the official profiles on TikTok during the Lok Sabha polls, there were conversations around the parties and their representatives, especially with hashtags, music and dialogues.
“Political parties favour this platform for their campaigns because it has a highly engaged audience from varied demographics. It has all of them who fall under the desired target audience, especially young users who are first-time voters. During the general elections, several TikTok influencers engaged in creating politically inclined content, showing their support to certain parties strategically through entertaining content and continue to do so,” Naqvi said.
The #myfirstvoteformodi hashtag on TikTok around the general elections received over 1.5 million views and saw young and popular TikTok influencers expressing themselves on BJP’s rap song which then led to similar user-generated content around the same hashtag.