Hunter politicians jump on TikTok bandwagon to reach young voters – ABC News

Hunter politicians jump on TikTok bandwagon to reach young voters
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Whether you consume TikTok videos through Facebook, Instagram or as they were intended in the TikTok app, you might have noticed more politicians popping up in your feed.
It's the new plan within political circles to reach younger voters by tapping into TikTok's teens and 20s target market.
And it appears our New South Wales Upper Hunter pollies are jumping on the TikTok train.
State member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell was a bit late to the party, only launching his account this month.
But he hopes his daughters will help keep the cringe factor to a minimum.
"My 14- and 17-year-old daughters said, 'No way Dad' [to one video], even though I thought it was rather funny and sent a message at the same time.," he says.
Meanwhile, federal Hunter MP Dan Repacholi started his account as soon as he was elected in May.
"Facebook is for older people, Instagram is for middle aged people and TikTok is for the younger area of people — that's what we're getting told," Mr Repacholi says.
Depending on the goals of individual politicians, experts say there have been some pretty successful political accounts.
Daniel Angus, a professor of digital communication with Queensland University of Technology's Digital Media Research Centre, has watched hundreds of political TikToks.
"Politicians, like any business or any other individual, want to get their voice out there," he says.
"Federal politicians likes Bob Katter and Jacqui Lambie … they're already characters in the sense that people can take quotes of theirs and use them in a quite irreverent and comedic way, and then when they've jumped on the platform they've leant into that.
"To be funny and have a laugh at your own expense is one thing, for that to translate into an actual vote is another."
Hunter MP Dan Repacholi is leaning in to his size and love of burgers to connect with his TikTok followers.
"It's a good way of showing that we're normal people, we muck up … we're approachable," he says.
"We can't be out everywhere at once, seeing the whole 129,000 people in this electorate … so this is a way of getting out to those people and just showing the genuine people we are."
TikTok newcomer Dave Layzell says it's about name recognition, after internal party polling showed not many young voters know who he was.
"In the age group between 18 and 35 there's only really about a 20 per cent name recognition," he says.
He hopes TikTok can help "bridge the divide".
"They want to understand who I am as a person, little things about my life and in amongst that I need to then thread in where I'm going in a policy sense.
"When they get to the election they have to know who I am and what I stand for and they'll either love me or hate me."
Both men, self-admittedly older than TikTok's target audience, know that it's a fast-moving platform.
"If you don't grab them [viewers] in the first couple of seconds, you've lost them," Mr Layzell explains.
The trends move dangerously fast too.
"When they [politicians] are doing it without guidance of what is currently topical and [are] reinventing, say, a dance that was done a year ago, then you're absolutely guaranteed to get some form of cringe content," Professor Angus says.
Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell admits it's often "uncomfortable" but says he's committed to reaching younger voters.
Federal member Dan Repacholi says he's not really sure how to quantify success just yet.
"But we're getting more and more followers every time we put something up," he says.
The political newcomers both know those followers will probably never be in the millions.
"There are people out there who are very skilled and probably make millions of dollars out of it [TikTok]," Mr Layzell says.
"You're talking to a middle-aged bloke here who's trying to have a go at selling a political [platform]," he laughs.
"If the 18 to 35 year olds would read my weekly email then I probably wouldn't have to reach them on TikTok but I really want to make sure that I reach out to every age group, every part of our electorate."
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