Leveraging TikTok for Public Policy Campaigns

Political Candidates, Businesses, and Activists Demonstrate the Platform’s Reach

Tamrah Chalom

Category: Strategy

07.19.2023

In an age where policy battles are fought not only in the halls of government but also on the screens of smartphones, TikTok has become a powerful tool for public affairs stakeholders. With 150 million users in the United States alone — 92% of whom are over the age of 18 — the platform attracts political candidates, business owners, activists, and influencers.

TikTok captures the attention of well-defined audiences, making it invaluable for political education and engagement. Nearly 80% of TikTok’s users say the platform helps them learn about politics, and 26% of adults under 30 say they regularly get news on TikTok. The platform’s reach and visual engagement make it especially useful for public policy stakeholders, who often need to present complex topics in small, digestible snippets. In addition, because the platform gives candidates, journalists, and community organizers a direct conduit to their audiences, it’s an essential space for public listening.  

In addition to facilitating the flow of information, TikTok also inspires action. A study by Reach3 Insights found that 54% of TikTok users engaged in discussions with friends and family as a result of something they saw on the platform, 44% signed petitions, and 32% sought out additional information. Users who are too young to vote or sign petitions use TikTok to form political coalitions, fact-check opponents, and campaign for candidates. TikTok has also demonstrated its power to shape social and political movements, including Black Lives Matter, vaccination campaigns, and voter turnout drives

The Nation credits TikTok’s appeal to Gen Z as a crucial factor in young voter turnout in the 2022 midterms. Among other factors, the magazine notes that TikTok empowers users to fact-check, respond to, and stitch together posts with their own responses — all features that support organic, efficient engagement. Notably, these online interactions can have a real-world impact: In 2020, TikTok users took credit for inflating expected attendance at a Donald Trump rally by sharing videos that encouraged people to register with no intention of attending. 

The platform’s ability to captivate large audiences makes it a strategic alternative for organizations that want to expand their communication channels. Depending on their objectives, organizations can use the versatile platform to monitor public sentiment, shape the conversation, or engage with key audiences.  

For organizations creating their own TikTok content, the platform provides valuable analytics to gauge their effectiveness. Follower and hashtag growth, for instance, provides data-driven insight into a campaign’s success, while average engagement per post can help strategists measure how well posts resonate with target audiences. 

TikTok metrics can also help strategists identify the right partners for a communication campaign — for instance, evaluating account activity to understand a potential partner’s audience reach. Data-driven decision-making is a cornerstone of effective policy campaigns, and TikTok’s analytics empower policymakers with real-time feedback to refine their messaging.

Whether organizations keep TikTok on their radar to understand public sentiment or actively reach audiences, it’s a tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. Used effectively, TikTok offers a robust community of highly engaged users, captivating visuals, and data-driven insights — successful ingredients for any communications campaign. 

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