Politics and Social Media – Part Two: Why Is My Prime Minister Bad at TikToks?

Article by:Tomisin Fayemi


Imagine a moment that has been hyped up for months, with anticipation building towards a  decision that could spark dramatic change for the country. The nation united, eager for excitement, only to be met with cautious moves, lacklustre performances, and a palpable sense of anticlimax. 

Everyone involved seems more interested in not making mistakes than in delivering anything memorable, leaving everyone watching frustrated and wondering why they bothered to engage with it in the first place. And that’s just the Euros – we haven’t even started on the election.

The result of Thursday’s election looks clear at the moment – partially driven by the litany of mistakes that were made by the Conservative party in the election race. 

But as mentioned in the first part of this series, even amongst the dullness, there’s interesting things that we can take away from this snap election. Most notably, the use of social media as a battleground for political influence. 

As we await the fate of our country, this blog will take a look at how each party has used social media, specifically TikTok, as well as highlighting some of the most interesting takeaways to come from it. 

Tik tok on the Conservative’s time at the top

Baby boomers, cover your eyes – we are talking TikTok. TikTok has emerged as an influential battleground in this election, particularly for Gen Z voters. 

The three main parties, Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrats, all joined TikTok shortly after the election was announced, which is a clear indicator of where content is headed. 

The Conservatives have opted for an informative approach, similar to their Fact Check UK Twitter campaign for the 2019 election. This has taken the form of Rishi Sunak doing direct-to-camera speeches addressing policy queries. Labour, on the other hand, have leveraged humour and meme culture, often targeting the Conservatives with viral videos that resonate strongly with younger audiences. 

The Lib Dems have employed a mixed strategy, blending personal stories with political attacks and PR stunts. Meanwhile the Green Party has opted for a campaign that blends the less serious with the more serious.

Of course, there is that “other” party. Reform has been utilising the platform for longer, focusing on policy-centric content and straightforward communication from Nigel Farage.

Your Spotify ‘snap’ up 2024

So we know how each party is using social media, but how much engagement are they getting? 

Well interestingly, Labour emerges as the frontrunner. The Labour Party has shared 159 TikTok posts and amassed over 210,000 followers – accumulating an impressive 5,883,710 likes. Reform UK comes in second. It has shared 439 posts and has over 206,000 followers. A very ‘quantity over quality’ approach resulting in over 1,900,000 likes. 

The Lib Dems have managed to post consistently with 133 posts, but this hasn’t translated into engagement, with only 24,000 followers and 633,000 likes. The Green Party has performed admirably on TikTok, posting 173 times, but engagement also hasn’t reached the heights of Labour or Reform, with 44,000 followers and 592,000 likes. As for the Conservatives, given their size, they are lagging significantly behind, with only 45 posts, 70,000 followers, and 700,000 likes.

The end-of-year PeeR review   

A point that must be assessed for all parties: is it really going to have an impact? 

Despite all the Gen Z jokes, TikTok isn’t only used by young people. All in all, it has an extremely diverse user base which collectively represent a substantial portion of the electorate. TikTok’s unique format, favouring personal engagement and viral potential, makes it a strong tool for political messaging. 

But ultimately the Conservatives have tried to put square pegs into round holes – a very Gareth Southgate approach to TikTok. As Labour knew it had to engage with every single demographic, its social media strategy has been impressive. The Labour Party decided to align its narrative to TikTok culture, instead of making TikTok align with its strategy. The use of memes and humorous content is exactly what was needed to steal mindshare and amass engagement. 

Nigel and co’s approach definitely paid dividends in engagement, but considering that this took nearly triple the amount of videos as Labour and still resulted in less likes and less followers,  the results aren’t too good. But then again, this is where the strategy must be taken into account. Reform isn’t trying to win the general election just yet, they are trying to split the right. 

As for the Liberal Democrats, like the Greens, social media output from the official account has been steady but with less impact. More posts than the Tories, but less followers and less likes. That said, the collective engagement that has come from Ed Davey’s exploits will certainly be significant. Will people know Liberal Democrat policies? Perhaps not. But will they know the man’s face? Almost certainly.

The bottom line 

Overall, this election was never going to be won on TikTok. But it has given us an interesting insight into how effective it may be moving forward. 

Ultimately, the battleground was never really level, and so it is hard to truly decipher the impact that it has had. But this won’t always be the case. 

The influence of social media, and platforms like TikTok, is certainly here to stay.


Back to blog