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Party leaders using social media to connect with young voters during election campaign


TORONTO —
Among the short clips of new dance moves and funny cats, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is amassing a large following of young voters with videos about his party’s platform on TikTok ahead of the federal election on Sept. 20.

In one video, Singh plays a trendy sound clip from TikTok’s library of songs, voices and funny noises in which the voice of a man asks “why are you smiling like that?” Dancing to some background music, Singh points to the space above him, where messages such as “taxing the Super Rich so we can invest in people” and “building homes you can actually afford” appear in orange text.

In another, Singh and his spouse Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu do a TikTok dance in front of the steps to the NDP campaign plane, with the caption “on our way to fight for people!”

With each federal election, more and more native social media users are turning 18 and becoming eligible to vote. And increasingly, Canadian politicians are harnessing the power of different social media platforms to spread their message.

“The election is a hot topic on TikTok right now,” TikTok marketing expert Wave Wyld told CTV News Channel on Saturday. “All you have to do is go to the hashtags of any of the party leaders and you will see that it has millions of views.”

Wyld said social media is something all political parties should use in elections, especially with so many young Canadians frequently glued to their phones. None of the other party leaders currently have TikTok, but are active on other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. 

“Make those connections and showcase how relatable you are, and really get younger voters out to the polls,” she said.

Wyld noted that part of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s success in the 2015 federal election came from connecting to young voters via social media — back when other leaders were not using it to the same extent. Wyld said this shows how social media can be crucial in converting a large internet following into actual votes.

“Jagmeet Singh is really tapping into this audience and encouraging and connecting with those voters to get a vote,” Wyld said.

As to whether or not participation on TikTok could alienate older voters who might see the trendy videos as pandering, Wyld said the increasing usage of social media in politics is almost unavoidable.

“The future of social media is huge,” she said. “Social media marketing and political campaigns play into that. I don’t think that they can really ignore it.” 

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