NEW YORK: It seems that just about everyone is on TikTok nowadays, with even the American Civil Liberties Union joining the video-sharing platform last Thursday.
Rachel Christensen, ACLU’s associate director of social media and merchandise, noted that the organization has wanted to be on TikTok for a while, but it joined in part because of current events and to encourage young people to vote.
“What got us over the chain of approvals was voting and this national spotlight on TikTok because of the Trump administration’s attempts to ban it,” she explained. “Because young voters are 37% of the voting bloc but their turnout numbers are really low, this was a perfect time to meet that audience on TikTok and [inform] them of their rights and the importance of voting.”
The ACLU is targeting young voters between the ages of 18 and 24 on the platform.
The organization’s in-house team is planning to create one TikTok post per week. Its content will focus on voting and using the platform to share its core issues of civil rights and liberties information. Its first and only post has received more than 1,800 views, and the page has more than 1,400 followers.
“We have exciting things planned about speech, privacy and technology rights and racial justice rights,” said Christensen.
ACLU experts will also appear in videos, answering frequently asked voting questions, busting common myths and providing a candid look at their day-to-day work.
Staffers will also use the app’s duet function and comment reply tool to engage the audience. Christensen noted that the ACLU will play around with formats and keep an eye on trends so it can match the tone and mechanics of the platform.
“We will definitely keep in mind that we are a 100-year-old law firm advocacy organization, but we are a group of very social-first, internet born professionals,” Christensen said.
The group is hoping to replicate the success it has seen on Instagram, where the number of its total followers has grown from 800,000 to 1.8 million since June. Christensen said ACLU’s Instagram followers are engaged and responsive.
“Our Instagram following grew during the moments when the protests for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter started taking off,” said Christensen. “In that racial justice moment, people went to the ACLU to trust us for information for their rights and for what they can do right now and just being able to take action. It has been our goal to consistently deliver information that people want and need and are asking for on social.”
Timely explainers through polls have been the “sweet spot” for ACLU on Instagram, said Christensen.
The organization’s ecommerce store is also seeing record sales related to its Instagram content. The ACLU takes what people respond to on social media and integrates that into its merchandise planning. For example, in June, it debuted a “protest tee” with a message warning that law enforcement would be held accountable for doing anything illegal.
“So we have had huge successes in products because we are seeing what people like on social and turning that into fashion-forward, thoughtfully made merchandise to support the ACLU,” she said.