How do you spread the word? Most young adults like me wouldn’t think of printing a flier. We turn to social media. Platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter are hugely effective ways to gain attention and spread awareness – but you need to know which type of message works best for each platform, as well as who uses them. Many of these platforms (especially TikTok) tend to attract and cater to teenagers and young adults, with the most popular content featuring the latest trends. So, for example, when posts that play off the latest hit songs or memes go viral, they often utterly confuse Gen X-ers and Boomers. Posts that don’t use trendy songs or playfully reference popular memes fall flat. This was the situation that my fellow intern, Eli, and I encountered when we first came on as Swing Blue Alliance interns.
When Swing Blue Alliance leaders first planned to create content for TikTok, adult members of the organization scripted and created 30-second videos, which did not receive much traffic. They did not include music or trending sounds, did not involve text/subtitles, and were too long, which went against everything that makes a video “viral” on TikTok. The content creators weren’t tapping into trending posts or tailoring their content to the humor that appeals to frequent users and influencers.
Then my fellow intern, Eli,and I stepped in. We were aware of trending audios and video formats that could work with the messages we wanted to spread and the way we wanted to promote Swing Blue, such as trending joke formats or charting music (one which was simply Jason Derulo saying his name over and over).
We drew inspiration from other political TikTok pages that tackled current events and promoted their ideologies and organizations in a lighthearted, comical, and easily digestible way, such as the Kentucky Senate Democrats’ page, which is impressive for its wide appeal. For example, a video where they used a Soulja Boy song while expressing their goal to raise the minimum wage in Kentucky received 1.4 million likes! We studied their account in order to understand how they were achieving the impact we interns so badly wanted to replicate.
We quickly learned that they were following trending content and current events extremely closely and acting within the same week of the start of a trend to comment on the most popular topics of the week. We noticed their jokes were straightforward enough for people who had never been on TikTok to understand, while also being funny enough to seem fresh to people who had been on TikTok for years.
Following their lead, we tried some highly relevant, personal, brief videos with a touch of humor. (The screenshots below are taken from a Swing Blue Alliance TikTok post.)
Our goal is to build a loyal and engaged audience on our social media platforms in order to further spread Swing Blue’s message and connect with voters across the country. It may take time and patience to achieve this, but just the past few months have been a great learning experience for us interns.
We have had to be creative and determined in order to surmount obstacles: You might be surprised to find out that locating a clean version of a song on TikTok is harder than it sounds! When Kendrick Lamar’s new album was released, it was the number-one trending album on TikTok for nearly a month, but most of the songs included slurs and curse words that we did not want audiences to associate with Swing Blue. It was difficult to find any other trending songs that month for our videos. Thankfully, we ended up finding a few simply by spending more time on the app.
We thank our boss, Julia Thomson-Philbrook, for being a willing contributor and editor when we pitched ideas to her. We are hoping to increase our reach, drawing an audience of close to 2,000 on our next video. We want to be popular and we truly feel that Swing Blue deserves the recognition for its important work. We would love it if you helped us build a following and shared our accounts with your friends and family!
Bio: Natasha is a senior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. In her free time, she enjoys writing, baking, and painting. She is eager to merge her creativity with politics and activism through her Swing Blue internship.