President Joe Biden, who is dealing with a crisis abroad and political gridlock at home, could benefit from some positive headlines. A nonprofit affiliated with him is trying to use TikTok to provide that boost.
Building Back Together, which bills itself as “the only group dedicated to advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s policy agenda,” has launched a TikTok account to spread pro-Biden messages among young voters. So far, the account has only uploaded a single video: A “how it started…how it’s going” meme that lists some of the current administration’s accomplishments.
@buildingbacktogether Ayo take us to the White House First year down #joebiden #news ♬ ABBA Mashup – Joebot the Robot
Building Back Together will have about five months to convince Gen Z citizens that President Biden’s policy agenda merits support in the midterm elections. Though we shouldn’t expect Biden or Vice President Harris to appear in the supportive videos, Building Back Together will use news videos, soundbites, and still photos to bring the administration to TikTok. The organization’s staff will appear in the clips as well.
The last three Presidents have all paid close attention to digital media during and after their terms in office. In the Obama years, young voters were associated with YouTube, so 44 appealed to them by chatting with Rosanna Pansino and making fun of Zach Galifianakis. As for 45, we all know what his favorite platform was (before he got banned from it).
The latest POTUS-approved platform is TikTok. Weeks before the launch of Building Back Together’s account, the White House invited 30 TikTok stars to a Zoom briefing about the war in Ukraine. The stated goal of the gathering was to give the creators “information from an authoritative source,” but I’m sure the Biden administration was equally happy to meet a bunch of influential young people who could be fed presidential talking points.
A Building Back Together spokesperson made it clear that Gen Z outreach is a goal of the new channel. “By launching a TikTok account, we’re building off that work with the goal of reaching the large and growing user base of this platform, including young people who disproportionately use TikTok,” the spokesperson told The Verge.
The question, of course, is how? Will Building Back Together be able to use TikTok to promote President Biden in an agreeable way? Today’s teens and twenty-somethings have discerning taste, and standard-issue memes and trends are unlikely to sway them. On the Building Back Together website, the nonprofit promises to deliver “innovative digital strategies and partnerships,” so we’ll see if it has anything unexpected in store.
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