The visit, organized by the DNC, is the Democrats’ most visible effort yet to leverage TikTok’s massive viewership to influence the midterm elections, and has sharply criticized TikTok’s Chinese ownership. Former President Donald Trump at one point ordered TikTok to shut down in the U.S. and then tried to force it to sell its U.S. business. Despite continuing to denounce the app as a threat, these efforts have failed.
Since then, TikTok has been downloaded over 100 million times by US users, surpassing Meta’s Facebook and Instagram to become the fastest growing social media app in the US.
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DCCC Digital Communications Director Cara Koontz said: “This is a first for DCCC and we are pleased that the two companies have formed a partnership.”
It remains to be seen how the creators will make use of this visit. Many of them were previously largely apolitical, encouraging their fans to vote but not explicitly endorsing any political party or candidate. , was the first interaction with the government.
V Spehar, host of Under the Desk News, a TikTok news channel with 2.7 million followers, said:
During our visit, their names and faces may not be familiar to many in Washington’s political circles, but it was clear that wasn’t the case for everyone. We, The Pizza on Capitol Hill The kick-off dinner at the was a blast with throngs of young fans taking pictures and taking TikTok videos with the creators, and staff quickly cleared the space upstairs so the stars could dine in peace. I made it possible.
Several attendees said the dinner focused on issues such as reproductive rights and strategies on how to get the most out of the audience in the midterm elections.
“We were very excited and very optimistic,” says Spehar. “Many creators talked about not getting much civics education in school. They were excited to learn about the structure of government and see it firsthand.”
The lack of knowledge about government apparently applied to their audience as well. After the group solicited questions about the midterm elections on Instagram Stories, actress and creator Nia Sioux, 21, an actress and creator with 8.3 million followers on TikTok, said her young followers were asking questions about the midterms in her posts. I found myself confused by what you were referring to. They thought she was talking about midterms at UCLA. She paraphrased her own post to clarify that she meant the midterm elections.
The trip was organized with the help of Daniel Daks, founder of talent management company Palette. The DNC reached out to Dax because he had previously organized influencer efforts for his 2020 Biden campaign.
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The DNC paid Palette a retainer. used to covers the creator’s travel and expenses, and does not directly compensate for the videos posted by the creator. “Content creators have platforms that can reach millions. We are excited about the collaboration.” DNC’s Deputy General Mobilization Officer.
Their first stop on Monday was the Supreme Court. The group filmed content on the building’s staircase and made a video to reiterate the importance of courts in deciding issues such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
Then they met with Obama in his Washington DC office. The former president told them about the importance of these midterm elections and said the Democratic victory in November was important. The creator then shot a TikTok video of him one-on-one with him.
DCCC leadership welcomed the creators to the organization’s offices on Monday. The influencer held a meeting with his DCCC officials to project a map of the midterm battlegrounds on the big screen and outline major constituencies that TikTokers hopes will help shake them up. did. They also instructed the group on effective messaging strategies.
“For a group of people looking at videos that only get 400,000 views on the flop, it was eye-opening to be told that many elections would end up with less than 5,000 votes,” Daks said.
Mattie Westbrouck, 22, an online creator with more than 10.2 million followers on TikTok, said it was his first time in Washington, DC and that the trip was a huge learning experience. “One lesson is that Michigan’s Third District was very important because that’s where young voters matter most,” Westbrook said. “We try to promote our content to best reach these voters.”
After a long Monday, influencers dined with DNC staff at Brasserie Liberte, a French restaurant in the city’s Georgetown neighborhood.
On Tuesday, the group received a private tour of the Capitol. Congressmen weren’t there, but they saw the House and Nancy Pelosi’s office. At one point, the creator noted an image of corn was etched into the row just before the old Senate Chamber, and the group joked about the “It’s Corn” TikTok meme.
“It was incredible to see creators interpret government through the lens of internet culture,” Daks said.
Then we headed to the White House for a press conference where President Biden received a covid booster. TikTokers met briefly with reporters at the White House, some of whom tried to sit down.
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“None of our groups were recognized by the press,” Speher said. “After they tried to steal our seats, they didn’t have any other questions or curiosity about why we were there or who we were.”
A trip to the White House was arranged directly, not through the DNC. During his tenure, Biden often hosted TikTok creators and briefed them on major issues such as the war in Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic. After his press conference, Biden ushered content creators into the Oval Office for an hour-long closed-door meeting.
Creator told Biden his personal story during the meeting and explained why he got into politics. He showed a photo of Creator’s family and asked if any of them would consider running Several creators said it was something they would consider.
“It felt like a little room tour, but by the president,” said Westbrook.
“He didn’t mention elections or voting,” Speher said.
“We know people are listening to their trusted messengers,” White House Secretary Rob Flaherty said. “More and more young people are turning to Instagram, TikTok and other platforms for news and information. We need to engage directly with the voices they trust because of their digital strategy.”
Research shows that more young people are getting news and information from content creators on TikTok. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of people who consume news on TikTok has tripled since 2020, with more than 26% of adults under 30 regularly using his TikTok. I’m getting news at
The DNC opened a TikTok account in March, becoming the only US political party on the platform. DNC hires a full-time content strategist dedicated to TikTok to build the group’s platform by posting news clips, explainers and trending memes.
Madeline V. Toomey, founder of digital consultancy Rufus & Mane, who helped organize the trip, said, “I’ve been in politics, but I’ve never seen a strategy that could turn a nation upside down on its own. there was no,” he said. “TikTok is that strategy. It influences culture and politics in ways other media cannot reach.”
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“We are seeing more politicians and party founders starting to adopt this new media and incredibly effective way of reaching young people,” said former TikTok said Aidan Kohn-Murphy, founder of the group Z for Change, formerly known as Biden. “We are seeing many campaigns and political party organizations beginning to adopt tactics that digital organizers have said work for years.”
In 2020, TikTok for Biden formed a coalition of over 500 TikTok creators to support Biden in his campaign against Trump.
Creators invited to travel said they felt more comfortable talking about policies and candidates after spending time in Washington, DC. “I will talk about my stance on it and provide more information on my social media content.”
Lifestyle and fashion content creator Kat Wellington, 24, said she was previously hesitant to make political statements on her TikTok account, but that’s likely to change after the DC conference. “She realized she wanted to share more about what she believed in,” she said. “This trip helped push me to use my platform for that. I share my genuine beliefs about politics, even if it tries to upset some people.” I don’t want to be afraid.