Impact Studio Drop #10: Genny Lec

Ella Munn
Ella Munn
July 10, 2024
Welcome to Impact Studio Drop #10, your deep dive into the new, interesting and occasionally unexpected ways to do cool stuff with creators.

Welcome to Impact Studio Drop #10, your deep dive into the new, interesting and occasionally unexpected ways to do cool stuff with creators.

News around last week’s General Election consumed our social feeds, with memes, satirical videos and commentary fuelling conversation and political engagement online. In this Drop, we explore the growing impact of social media on election coverage and the increasingly important role of creators as they look to speak to youth voters and drum up greater political agency.

The role of social media and creators in politics is nothing new (we must be on our fourth ‘first social election’ by now), but their influence has grown and changed in recent years, particularly among younger voters who are much less likely to consume mainstream media. In the run up to last week’s general election, social media was once again a key battleground, unsurprising given how much of our news we discover and engage with on the platforms. Moving beyond traditional political and policy chat, creators took the place of traditional political commentators and memes were everywhere, with new content crafted for specific communities to deliver key messaging with humour and relatability.

Politicians are increasingly recognising the power of social to connect with younger audiences, allowing them to communicate directly with voters, bypassing traditional media gatekeepers and speaking in a language that resonates with younger demographics. And while some of the content may be trite, showing up where key voters are consuming and engaging with news is becoming increasingly important.

The impact of social media on youth voting patterns is evident. An increasing number of young people are casting their ballots, driven by a sense of agency and the belief that their votes matter. According to YPulse’s WE 2024 Election report, 68% of British 18-39-year-olds planned to vote, a 14 point increase from the previous election. This surge is largely driven by Gen Z and Millennials, who feel a profound disconnect with politicians and are seeking more direct and authentic engagement.

There have obviously been big strides to mobilising a young electorate with large corporations like Instagram, TikTok and Spotify using in-app prompts to encourage young people to register and vote. While 70% of young British adults believe, “My vote counts”, youth-led, non-partisan charity My Life My Say revealed that four million 18-34 year olds in the UK were not registered to vote in the run up to last week's election. This gap underscored the necessity of continued efforts to engage and register young voters.

In the UK, the emergence of ‘accidental influencers’ was a notable phenomenon in the lead-up to the election, particularly on TikTok. These casual users with small followings made political content that unexpectedly went viral, reaching millions of viewers with videos resonating with audiences disengaged from mainstream political commentary. These accidental influencers, aged between 16 and 31, garnered an average of half a million views per video, collectively amassing over 15 million views.

The role of creators in political discourse too is growing. One in four UK creators were approached by political and cause-based organisations to produce content ahead of the election. Research shows that 40% of UK voters appreciate creators posting political content during an election year, with this figure rising to 76% among Gen Z. This highlights the critical role that creators can play in informing and engaging young voters.

The appeal of creators in the political conversation is evident. Many have built substantial, loyal followings and have developed close, intimate relationships with their audiences. Their endorsements carry significant weight, whether they are promoting products or political candidates. 57% of TikTok users viewing news on the platform and turning to creators for their information, showing the trust and credibility that creators have cultivated with their audiences.

Notably, creators were more open and willing to discuss their political views - whether to endorse a party or simply urge their audiences not to vote the other way. This move away from typical taboo around politics aimed to increase political participation and agency among young people. This grassroots approach empowers young voters, encouraging them to become active participants in the democratic process.

Some of our favourite creators produced relatable and entertaining yet informative content in the run up to the election. King of satirical sketch content, Munya Chawawa, hosted a BBC Radio sketch show, ‘Election Doom Scroll’, tackling ‘the omnishambles that is the General Election’, using his typical and hugely popular satirical tone to engage younger audiences.

On a mission to get young voters engaged in the election, GK Barry also hosted The Turnout, a political series created in partnership with Kiss FM. Featuring guests like Alistair Campbell, youth campaigner Dan Lawes and comedian Nish Kumar, Grace threw boring policy chat to the wayside, instead drawing viewers and listeners in with facts like "you are 40% more attractive if you vote". Grace approached issues like housing, childcare and what motivates people to vote with her usual humour and candidness, an excellent choice to lead the show given she already has a chart-topping podcast. Both Munya and Grace’s content exemplify how creators can use their platforms to drive political engagement through humour and relatability, something that is key for young audiences.

The role of social media and creators in politics has transformed how young people engage with elections. Connecting with younger audiences through humour and conversation, adding their own flair and tone to traditionally dry policy chat, creators are encouraging their audiences to get involved, fostering a more engaged and informed electorate.

Creators are showing audiences that it's really ok to be political, to share their views and take a stand on key issues. By normalising and democratising political discourse in a way that’s relatable and accessible, they are playing a key role in mobilising an increasingly engaged young electorate.

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Impact Studio Drop #10: Genny Lec

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