Mostly clear. Low near 50F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph..
Mostly clear. Low near 50F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph.
Updated: October 21, 2022 @ 9:45 pm
Some people take to the internet to get a break from the mundane day-to-day, to cheer up, or to mindlessly thumb through funny videos. Others look to use social media as an opportunity to engage with others and share news.
The Indiana House Democratic Caucus’ communications team aims to do it all with their TikTok page.
A Chinese tech company named ByteDance launched a similar platform called Douyin, and attracted 100 million users in the span of a year. Afterward, ByteDance decided to expand on its success under a different brand, Tiktok, and purchased Musical.ly effectively combining the existing services. Tiktok grew to success in the U.S. shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The app has been widely successful among individual users and now has professionals and businesses hopping on. Uniquely different from the various other social media platforms, Tiktok’s algorithms learn what content users like to see at a faster rate than other apps and generates a tailored “for you” page that keeps them coming back.
The app also utilizes a massive database of sounds and music for users to customize and create trends. The platform was originally known for its short 15-second videos, but has since expanded its capabilities with a 10-minute feature.
However, the app almost never grew to become what it is now after former president Donald Trump attempted to ban the platform in fear of a national security risk.
Now the app is available in over 150 countries with more than a billion users and 138 million active users in the U.S. alone. A majority of these users range from 10 to 30 years old, with 33% of users saying they regularly get their news from the app, according to Pew Research.
The Indiana House Democrats account currently has 22.6k followers and 434.3k total likes, with a reach in the hundred of thousands, all since the account was created in late 2021.
While the Indiana Senate Democrats separate TikTok has not posted since the last session ended, they received — 355,000 views after posting a video about when a controversial public education bill did not pass. Both Indiana Republican caucuses do not have Tiktok accounts.
Hannah Smith, a spokeswoman for the caucus, said that although the account was created prior to her beginning her position as the interim communications director for the caucus, she could see the long-term potential and benefits of tapping into this specific social media platform.
“The utilization of the app coincided with a new communications philosophy that sought to have Indiana House Democrats meeting Hoosiers where they are at, which entails accessibility in both traditional media and social media,” Smith said.
Smith said that TikTok has already allowed them to engage with newer audiences in the 18 to 30-year-old age bracket.
“The main purpose of each video is to educate and advocate for our state representatives and caucus policies, but to emulate internally defined communications principles of transparency, accountability, inclusivity and creativity,” she said.
Smith said that content creation for the account is a group effort and can sometimes take a while.
She said that sometimes the team will use popular sounds and trends and plug in information that they want to share with their audience.
“Our production process involves sending a sound with an example to the rest of the team, pitching it to a member or staffer with a thorough explanation of what we’d need them to do in the video, filming it, sharing a draft of the video with a caption with the rest of the team and then posting it,” Smith said. “Communications leadership often serves as the final approval before the video is published.”
Other times they generate entirely original concepts, which might feature a representative speaking about a serious topic.
“…We’ll do standalone explainer videos on topics requested by our audience. Those take a lot more time to produce, but our goal is educating Hoosiers on the proceedings of the legislature and highlighting our members who champion certain issues, so they feel worth the extra effort,” she said.
Another part of the process is filming mock-ups to help legislators feel more comfortable about what the final product will look like and if they want to do the video. Smith said these can be quite comical to watch back later.
One video that sticks out to her, Smith said, featured Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) putting a spin on a trend that pokes fun at phones always “listening” to us and suggesting ads based on phrases it hears day-to-day.
“Many of the TikToks doing this trend were about being on a date with someone—our spin on it involved sitting in a committee with Republican legislators who we really want to consider taking positive environmental and family policy action… we caveated the post with the fact that we obviously respect everyone’s personal property and privacy,” she said.
The video hit 120,000 views and has more than 32,000 likes, which Smith said the team counts as a success because now people know that the caucus cares about paid family leave, universal Pre-k, workplace pregnancy accommodations and clean water.
“It took several takes for us to film a mock-up for Rep. Bauer. But the video we ended up posting was the first one she sent back to us – she knocked it out of the park and embodied the energy of the bit really well, and our viewers loved it, too.”
The account’s most viewed post to date, with 858.4k views and 79.4k likes, shows candid footage of a legislative assistant asking for approval from communications leadership to make a post.
Smith said the idea was reminiscent of the popular Duolingo owl account which often shows the behind the scenes struggle of young communications professionals, or an episode of “Parks and Recreation.”
Smith also said that while it’s never the goal for press secretaries to be the center of attention, having staff focused content helps make the page seem more approachable, its lighthearted content, and is quick content for when representatives are in their home districts.
With nearly 100 videos in less than a year, the account is still in the early days but Smith said she hopes they can continue to utilize the platform to engage with Hoosiers and share information about the caucus.
Sydney Byerly is a reporter at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.
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