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Galvanised steel and aura points help Labour cut through in the first TikTok election

Posted on 14th June 2024

It’s been called the first TikTok General Election but at the halfway point in the campaign – three weeks in – it’s become clear that if the parties want to cut through on the platform they need to create entertaining content that taps in to genuine TikTok trends and topics.

Overall numbers of views and likes across the parties’ TikToks were down 77% in Week 3 compared to Week 1 – nine million views compared with 40 million in the first week of the campaign.

The only TikToks that are managing to cut through and appear on millions of people’s For You Pages are videos tapping in to current recognisable TikTok trends and appealing to the wider TikTok community.

The Labour Party got 1.8 million views on their version of the galvanised steel meme that's been all over TikTok through May and June – as a way of answering "How will we build 1.5 million new homes?"

TikTokers recognising the trend were amused – commenting things like "LMAO NO WAY LABOUR PARTY MADE A GALVANISED SQUARE STEEL EDIT" and "I thought this was some kid making a joke about little John but its actually the Labour party 😭😭😭"

Labour have been leading the way with the strategy of using memes the TikTok community recognise. Their Rishi Sunak “Auramancer" meme has now been viewed 2.6 million times, helped by the shareability of the message as part of an aura points game lots of TikTokers are playing.

And, with five million views, their version of the Cilla Black “Surprise, Surprise" meme is the biggest post of the campaign, not only on their own page but of all the parties.

Tapping in to a current TikTok trend worked for the first time for the Conservatives in Week 3 – their post on the new "Rating things my ____ has done" trend, poking fun at Labour's track record, was their biggest of the week with 1.5 million views.

Comments, however, said it "Doesn't quite land the same as the Labour account" and the format somewhat backfired with some of their detractors rating things the Conservatives have done, such as "Boris having parties in lockdown -1000/10" and "Voting in Liz Truss as prime minister -100000000000/10".

The Conservatives are also continuing to struggle to convince people to like or share their TikToks, with much lower rates of engagement than Labour and the Lib Dems. See our analysis of Week 2 of the General Election campaign that revealed just how much Labour is ahead when it comes to likes and shares.

The Liberal Democrats also demonstrated the power of tapping in to current trends – again with the "Rating things" trend, looking at the Conservatives' record in government including partygate and Liz Truss’s brief stint as Prime Minister. With 150,000 views it was their biggest post of the week.

The parties have quickly discovered what some non-TikTok users don’t often grasp. It’s an entertainment platform, not a social network. The TikTok algorithm favours content different types of TikTok users are likely to find entertaining. TikTok itself says in its UK General Election Centre: “We want to make sure that TikTok is a safe space for [political] discussions and one that remains, at its core, entertaining.”

Reform dominating comment threads

Unlike Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, Reform UK aren't making any effort to join in with current TikTok trends. They're instead relying on a sea of "vote Reform" comments which their supporters – as well as bots and clearly fake accounts posing as supporters – have been leaving on other parties' posts for several weeks. They've even posted a TikTok on their page joking that Reform is "coming to a comment section near you!"

If you look at this week's biggest posts from the two main parties, many of the top comments are telling people to vote for Reform. One comment on the Tories’ "Rating things Labour has done" post says: “I see the vote reform bots are out in force 🙄".

Week 3 TikTok election statistics

Labour accounted for more than half the views on posts by the main parties in Week 3, but their overall views have fallen from 26 million in the first week of the campaign to five million this week.

UK general election 2024 – TikTok views by party

The Conservatives’ TikTok performance has fallen dramatically. They had 1.7 million views on their posts this week, compared to 9.4m views in the first week of the election. More than 80% of the views they managed this week were on just one post – the rating trend TikTok.

As Labour is posting more often on TikTok than most other parties a look at average views is sometimes a better indicator of how each party is performing. Labour's TikToks got an average of 262,000 views this week, compared to 250,000 for the Conservatives, heavily boosted by that “rating” TikTok. The Lib Dems' TikToks were some way behind, with an average of 18,000 views per post.

UK general election 2024 – TikTok average views by party

Reform is the only party whose TikToks are getting more views now than at the start of the campaign. In the first week they averaged 80,000 views per TikTok – a figure that rose to 150,000 this week.

Buzz – a service from Shooglebox – helps major UK brands spot, understand and quickly respond to emerging TikTok trends, and tap into what their customers are seeing, saying and doing on social media. In June 2024 we’re tracking the role TikTok is playing for the first time in a General Election campaign.


Shooglebox blog
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