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Julio-agosto de 2021, vol. 30, núm. 4
Interacción y visualización / Interaction and visualization


What are political parties doing on TikTok? The Spanish case

Laura Cervi; Carles Marín-Lladó

This article is available in open access

Abstract: TikTok, already widely used before the pandemic, boomed during the quarantine that locked down large parts of the world, reaching 2 billion downloads and 800 million monthly active users worldwide by the end of 2020. Of these 800 million users, 41% are aged between 16 and 24 years. This social network, widely known for its entertainment videos, is increasingly becoming a place for political discussion and therefore a unique opportunity for political actors to (re)connect with young people. Acknowledging that the political uses of TikTok are still understudied, this paper aims to explore whether and how Spanish political parties are including TikTok as part of their communication strategy. Through an affordance-centered content analysis of all the posts published by the five most important Spanish political parties (PP, PSOE, Ciudadanos, Podemos, and Vox), the current results show that, although all Spanish political parties have adopted this platform, their usage is unequal. From a quantitative perspective, PP was the first party to open a TikTok account, but its usage has been discontinuous; Podemos and Ciudadanos are the parties that publish the most and most constantly, while Vox has only published nine posts and the PSOE one. Nonetheless, from a qualitative perspective, Podemos and Vox generate more engagement and seem to understand and exploit TikTok’s specific affordances better. The findings allow it to be concluded that, although globally Spanish political parties do not fully exploit the platform’s affordances and tend to use it as a unilateral tool for promotion, the most engaging posts are those favoring interaction and geared toward politainment.

Keywords: Political communication; Politics 2.0; Social networks; Social media; Affordances; Interaction; Politainment; Engagement; Political parties; TikTok; Spain.