New Zealand’s Recently Elected Prime Minister, Chris Luxon, Utilized the Influence of TikTok

Credits: Reuters

When Chris Luxon ascended the stage to deliver his victory speech as the newly elected Prime Minister of New Zealand, his gratitude extended beyond the conventional acknowledgments of his campaign team or family. Surprisingly, he expressed profound appreciation for TikTok, emphasizing how his campaign left no “Tik un-Tocked.”

Luxon emerged victorious in a fiercely contested campaign, challenging formidable opponents, including the incumbent Labour party. While his platform focused on traditional conservative issues such as tax cuts and a tough stance on crime, the conventional strategies of traditional media proved insufficient for securing victory.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Chris Luxon (Credits: Reuters)

Luxon and his team recognized the need to convey his message to young voters who might not engage with traditional media outlets. Enter TikTok.

This strategic approach isn’t entirely novel; candidates have been leveraging social media for nearly two decades to connect with newer and younger voters. A notable example is Barack Obama’s use of Facebook in 2008 and 2012, a move that played a pivotal role in securing a second term in the White House.

The youth vote is anticipated to be even more influential in the upcoming American presidential election. Early polls indicate a lack of enthusiasm for likely Republican and Democratic nominees among the 18- to 29-year-old demographic. A Harvard Kennedy School survey reveals that only half of this age group “definitely” plans to vote for president in 2024.

TikTok is a crucial platform for candidates across all ballot levels to engage with these reluctant voters. With over 150 million regular users in the U.S., including more than half of 20-29-year-olds and approximately two-thirds of newly eligible voters aged 18 and 19, TikTok provides a significant avenue for political outreach.

Moreover, approximately one-third of TikTok users regularly source their news from the platform. Even though President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have maintained a distance from TikTok, their posts on the platform have generated considerable engagement.

In Luxon’s case, recognizing the power of the youth vote meant meeting people where they are—on TikTok. Nearly half of all young people in New Zealand are active on TikTok, making it a crucial platform for Luxon’s campaign. In the three months leading up to the election, Luxon’s TikTok content garnered 17 million views, dwarfing the 1.3 million views for Labour.

Impressively, 75% of these views came from the 18 to 34, underscoring the campaign’s successful connection with young voters. Exit polling conducted by the National Party showed that they outperformed the Labour Party 29% to 27% among 18 to 24-year-olds.

Luxon’s campaign adopted TikTok’s recognizable style to establish this connection with younger voters, blending entertaining and serious content around key issues.

This involved utilizing split-screen videos featuring serious conversations alongside visually engaging content. Luxon’s adherence to TikTok’s aesthetic and trends, from ASMR videos discussing economic policy to ‘Get Ready With Me’ segments revealing campaign day outfits, exemplified a commitment to authenticity and engagement.

Luxon’s strategy built on the National Party’s existing presence on TikTok, with over 60,000 followers and weekly engagement with around a million voters leading up to the campaign.

TikTok and its young user base likely played a pivotal role in Luxon’s electoral success. Polls leading up to the election indicated a significant shift in young voters’ preferences, with just 20% of 18- to 34-year-olds in New Zealand set to vote for the Labour Party, a substantial reversal from 2017.

The global TikTok generation is eager to engage, making it an opportune time for political outreach. Candidates must recognize that TikTok is an essential platform for harnessing the youth vote and connecting with authenticity, creativity, and personality.

While acknowledging TikTok’s security and privacy concerns, candidates cannot afford to ignore this platform, as Luxon’s campaign illustrated its indispensable role in engaging the youth vote.

It’s a crucial lesson for politicians worldwide: the youth vote is on TikTok, and political leaders must be there too. Now is not the time for fear or hesitation; candidates risk being left behind if they neglect TikTok. Every aspiring elected leader should heed this lesson.

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