As the clock strikes 41rr Elections in Nova Scotia, some candidates are using the power of social media to engage voters.
TikTok was still quite young and was not on the radar for most Nova Scotians during the last provincial election in 2017.
But as the video-sharing app – which is especially popular among Generation Z and Millennials – has grown in popularity over the past two years, some candidates are turning this time around to reach a new group of people who traditionally do not. participate so much in politics.
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Max Emerson Taylor, a former Halifax mayoral candidate who has more than a million followers on TikTok, said the growing platform could be a good way for politicians to connect with people by showing them a personal side more accessible.
“It’s good if they have a social media platform to show who they really are, because behind the scenes with a lot of politicians, you do not know what it ‘s about,” Taylor said.
Whereas if they are posting things about who they are, you are saying, okay, I know this person now, I know their sense of humor, I know what they like.
Disappointed with the low voter turnout in previous municipal elections, the 23-year-old ran for mayor of Halifax last year with one goal in mind: to get more people to vote.
The goal was never to win, said Taylor, who finished third in the race.
I wanted people to vote, I wanted people my age to vote specifically, and a lot of people my age voted and that was a really interesting thing to watch.
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Despite his huge online following, Taylor did not use TikTok during his campaign because he wanted to be taken seriously – although he still faced derogatory comments about his hobby and age during the election.
Also, many of his fans live outside Nova Scotia and would not know much about the election. Looking back, however, Taylor would have liked to have used it more to give the floor on the importance of voting.
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Being a new person in politics, being quite new to the field, I was so focused that I took it seriously that I did not use the resources that were available to me, he said.
If you truly believe that what you are doing is the right thing to do, there is nothing wrong with having a little fun getting the message out.
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One candidate having fun at TikTok is David Paterson, the NDP candidate for Bedford South.
Paterson, a teacher who taught in high school last year, said he became very aware through his students how big the TikTok platform was.
I know TikTok is a very powerful and engaging way to reach people, having really authentic and genuine conversations and as a teacher, TikTok really fits into my classroom teaching style, said Paterson, 32.
His fun, his original, his authenticity, but it also makes a lot of sense behind him in the messages he communicated with people.
He was also inspired by federal party leader Jagmeet Singh, who received attention during the last federal election for his videos on TikTok.
Paterson established his first post at TikTok in late June as election speculation in the province grew. Since then, he attracted a follower of more than 400 people.
He said he was concerned about low voter turnout – less than 54 per cent of eligible voters voted in the last election – and the more ways to engage with the public, the better.
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Low voter turnout is not good for democracy. People must be committed citizens, people have a right to have a voice in forming a government that serves their needs as people in their province, and we need to make sure people are engaged in that democratic process, especially young people, he said.
The decisions the government makes affect young people on a daily basis and will affect the future of their planet.
So far, Paterson has posted videos of himself making campaign preparations, such as sign building and preparing for a press conference, but he also used his platform to highlight issues such as climate change, inequality of property and road safety.
The engagement so far has been incredibly wonderful, said Paterson, who said his TikTok account creates an accessible way for people to pick it up and ask questions.
He also said the videos create a sense of authenticity that could help break down barriers between politicians and the public.
I can respond, I can engage, I can respond with video and it really creates a rich mutual engagement, back and forth, which is quite significant and really important when running an election campaign to represent people , he said.
‘Lots of fun’
Jill Balser, the Progressive Conservative candidate for Digby-Annapolis riding, initially had no intention of joining TikTok, but she’s glad she did.
Just creating these videos, I’m having a lot of fun and that’s really the energy I want to bring to the campaign, said Balser, 35.
Usually, the social media app chosen by Balser is Instagram. But realizing that platforms like Instagram and Facebook are not reaching out to young people more than ever, she set up a TikTok account with the help of a 19-year-old campaign volunteer.
The TikTok account is still quite young, with only three videos so far. Videos show her putting up election signs and picking up trash on the side of the road.
Balser said she has a lot of ideas for future videos. Through her community development work, she said she has talked to many young people about the things they are concerned about.
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Part of my team that I work with are all people under the age of 30, and their energy and their desire to also use these platforms and teach me in that capacity has also meant that I can now take a stand political and be able to speak towards leadership solutions and actions in a whole new way, she said.
We need to address education and employment, and I really think seeing those social issues through that progressive lens, those are the messages I want to be able to send.
Balser said she believes TikTok – and any hot new social media apps that will pave the way – will be relevant to candidates in the upcoming election to reach new voters.
She added that in addition to being able to spread her message, she also has an explosive content.
“Having new people in my campaign is also teaching me to be brave and to be brave and to use these platforms that you may not have used before, because one more thing I am learning is really a lot of fun. she said.
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