Adapting to audience: Corona awareness on TikTok for youth

A few days ago I wrote a post about social media in crises. The post gave examples of how social media can be used by government to share information with affected populations and on how it can be used by affected populations to share information. This post will give one more example and look at how social media can be used to reach younger audiences. More specifically this post will look at how TikTok is used for awareness raising on Corona (COVID-19).

The corona virus: spread of misinformation and creating panic.

No-one who has read a newspaper in the last few week can say that they never heard about Corona. It’s everywhere and the world is freaking out with quarantines, closed borders and cancellation of schools, churches, cultural events etc. There are also many false rumours and information spreading, through the internet, social media and word of mouth. Some of which are even harmful. There are rumours of self-cures, such as drinking colloidal silver or illegal alcohol, the later which has resulted in at least 44 deaths according to USA today. Other rumours ties the virus to seafood or claims that it’s a result of a leak in a Chiense lab.

Hence,  accurate information is extremely important to avoid unnecessary panic and for people to know how to prevent it.

Adapting to target audience

The Corona virus is a threat that affect the whole of society and which all needs accurate information about. Many people do follow the news and official statements through televisions, radio and online. In addition, Google, Facebook and Twitter are promoting official advice and guidelines. However, it’s not enough as there are large groups of people who don’t consult newspapers or google, for example youth. While everyone might be the target group for Corona related information, the same communication strategy cannot be used to target them all. Instead, it is important to break the target group down and adapt to each of the breakdowns.

To reach the youth, the information needs to be shared in a way, and through a medium, which fits them. While youth may read newspapers or what news on the television less than the average, they are more frequently on social media. One of these social medias includes TikTok, which consist of short mobile videos.

TikTok as a platform to reach youth.

Through the platform youth has, as the Guardian put it “teenagers on TikTok are bringing people together with memes about coping during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Furthermore, the hashtag #coronavirus have over 11.4 billion views on the app. Hence, through brining information and creating a space for sharing corona related thoughts, through e.g. memes and videos, on an already existing plattform which the youth are using, TikTok brings the corona discussion to the youth on their terms. Furthemore, TikTok is also taking proactive measure to educate people about the virus by both pushing back against spread of misinformation and by working with the Word Health Organization. The partnership has resultet in a Q&A page and a section on ”mythbusters”. Other organization have also used TikTok to spread awareness on Corona. The videos range from humoristic and youthful, to serious and informative. Hence, Corona awareness on TikTok is a good example to reach the targeted audience.

2 Comments

  1. Safi Sabuni

    Hi Louise,

    Thank you for writing this very interesting piece. I work with youth information and we are constantly looking for ways to reach young people with free, up to date and quality information. There is a sea of information out there and especially on Corona. What we hear from the young people we work with is that it is difficult to differentiate what is true and what is fake news. I just came across a fantastic way of working with busting myths. WHO has established a WhatsApp BOT that supports users with information, among them busting 15 myths about Corona. The language they use is very youth friendly and a great practice I think many can learn from.

    Try it out yourself if you have WhatsApp, send “Hi” to +41 79 893 18 92.

    Thanks again for a great article!

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