Your TikTok is “funny as f***” but will it help you win an Election?

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My 14-year-old son came home from school the other day to tell that I absolutely had to vote Reform because Nigel Farage is “funny as f***”.

Obviously, I balked. And not just from the use of the swear word.

Keen to embrace his apparent new-found interest in politics however, I tried to get to the bottom of which of Reform’s pledges had particularly stood out to my teenage boy.

None, apparently. He was simply impressed with his TikTok account.

Ahhhh yes. The traditional hustings and televised debates can step aside. This war is being held online and the suggestion is that the party that wins social media, wins the election.

Several of the main parties opened official TikTok accounts almost immediately after a soggy PM stood in the rain outside Number 10 on May 22nd to tell us the polls were looming.

And analysis now shows that views of videos on these party profiles are approaching 80 million, with Labour grabbing 52 million of them and Conservatives on just 15.2 million.

Then you get to “Likes”.

The Tories are flagging again with just 625.9K for the party compared to 4.7 million for Labour. But while Reform is surging up the charts with 1.6M likes it’s the personal account for Right-wing Farage at the very top with a staggering 11.7 million.

In fact he now has more followers than the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, Green and Reform parties’ accounts combined.

So what’s he doing right?

Well, TikTok won’t allow paid-for advertising, so you really have to go back to the recipe for success for viral content – authenticity, humour and self-awareness (none of which come naturally to politicians).

Farage seems to have grasped the appetite for funnies (a joke about Rishi wearing Sambas while he’s in a pair of Gazelles) with an attempt at authenticity coming from talking face-to-face to camera about immigration. I’m not sure self-aware is particularly in the mix – after all, one of his posts talks about being the sexiest man in politics – but hey ho.

Humour is working well for Labour too, tapping into an appetite for savaging the PM (did you know he didn’t have Sky TV as boy?) to gain the laughs before swooping in with pledge headlines.

Sir Keir Starmer’s top hit on TikTok is an 11-second clip of Cilla Black singing ‘Surprise, Surprise’ at the end of her ITV show, weaponised to parody Rishi Sunak’s plans to bring back national service.

It all goes a bit wrong with Ed Miliband who remains as awkward on camera as he did that day they snapped him scoffing a bacon sarnie.

Conservatives meanwhile, are having a lovely time teasing Kier on his word fumbles and joking about Labour policies while the Lib Dems are jumping on the Rishi-shaming bandwagon and racking up 50,000 likes sailing a boat covered in flags right past an unsuspecting PM.

I mean it’s all pretty funny.

Who doesn’t like a good playground tussle involving overgrown public schoolboys? But are we really voting for the politician who makes us laugh the most? Jesus, bring back Boris if that’s the case. Come on, surely we are more grown up than that?

This brings me to the correlation between TikTok views and votes, and whether the age and demographic of those using TikTok is reflective of the wider British electorate.

Indeed, thankfully Farage being “funny as f***” won’t actually result in a X in the box from my easily impressed kid.

But according to Ofcom data, while TikTok still skews young, its appeal has extended with 61% of internet users aged 16 to 34 using it.

Now, we did tell you this in a previous blog post where we outlined why it has become such a formidable force, reshaping not only how we consume content but also how we discover information.

Which means the campaigners in the General Election have got it spot on. Especially when you consider the pledges in some manifestos to lower the voting age to 16.

Needless to say, God forbid anybody makes a decision based on TikTok alone. I know I am now concentrating on educating my teen on what each of the manifestos really mean for him so when his time comes, he won’t just blindly follow in the footsteps of the biggest entertainer.

I love a meme as much as the next person. But I don’t approve of political jokes. I’ve seen too many of them get elected. Ba dum tss!

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