TikTokers Disrupted the Original Disruptor: President Trump

How Political Activism on TikTok gained momentum

Decode_M Proprietary MFactor Data; Graphic by K8 Strassman
  • DISRUPTION: Mary Jo Laupp (the grandma of TikTok), K-Pop and Gen Z disrupted the original disruptor: President Trump. They integrated themselves into the Tulsa rally planning and managed to hack the crowd-building effort. By heightening the expectations for the event, they ultimately disrupted the narrative Trump hoped to walk away with: huge crowds gather for Trump’s first rally back.
  • INNOVATION: Political activism on TikTok is a relatively new use case for the app, which is similar to the way Trump used Twitter and Facebook Live to host digital “rallies” in 2016. Gen Z and TikTok users are now innovating and driving a new sense of FOMO on TikTok, transforming it from an outlet where they engage in trending dances to a platform where they can rally others together in a digital protest.
  • POLARIZATION: Organizers have previously used TikTok for awareness efforts around Black Lives Matter, Women’s rights and LGBTQ causes. This “prank” on President Trump’s rally sparks polarization as people question why it “worked”. Was it really just a successful example of Gen Z banding together to prank President Trump? Or was it TikTok’s algorithm? Similar to why Fake News had momentum on Facebook (Facebook’s algorithm “allowed” Fake News because Facebook’s metric was time spent on the site and Fake News is inherently interesting and gets people to engage) was this movement an example of TikTok’s algorithm prioritizing targeted content to keep users on the platform longer?
  • STICKY: The timing of this movement made it memorable — it was well timed with President Trump’s first rally post quarantine. Rather than people remembering the rally for what President Trump said, everyone will remember it as the day TikTokers pulled off a successful prank.
  • SOCIAL IMPACT: Even though this movement was US focused, it engaged and brought together Gen Zers from across the world. And regardless of what the actual cause for the low turnout was, Gen Zers across the world believe they drove it. Momentum begets momentum and that belief will lead to more activism led by Gen Z and content creators on TikTok.



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Mike Berland

Momentum Maker, Author of Maximum Momentum, Founder & CEO of Decode_M