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Kentucky politicians turn to TikTok to reach young constituents

Ever wondered what the process is to making a TikTok? The intern behind the account explains what she does to create the viral vidoes.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — In a time where it's hard to get people off their phones, some politicians in Kentucky are working to meet young voters where they are: TikTok.

Piper Burke is an intern for the Senate Minority at the Kentucky State Capitol. Home for the summer from Connecticut College, the rising senior started sending applications for an internship to a mix of political and social media jobs.

Then she heard back from state Sen. Morgan McGarvey, who wanted to give her the opportunity to do both.

"What's the most effective way to reach a younger audience?" McGarvey said. "It's not to ask the people who are up here who are older, it's to ask the people who are younger who are on TikTok."

Burke helped create the Senate Democrats' new TikTok profile, finding sounds on the app that are getting good traction and pitching her ideas to McGarvey and communications director Micah Goff. Then, the trio gets out of the office, and begins the creative process all around the State Capitol.

In one month, @kysenatedems has posted 11 videos, gained 12,000 followers and amassed over 330,000 likes. While the account is run by the Democrats in Frankfort, they have reached across the aisle to include Republicans in videos.

"The great thing about Frankfort is we all work together all the time," McGarvey said. "All of a sudden people are going, 'Wait a second! The Senate Democrats are on TikTok and getting hundreds of thousands of views!' It's really been a point of conversation and something that's been fun to do this summer."

The account has proven to be successful in getting younger people involved in the state's issues.

"I think politics has always skewed a little bit older," McGarvey said. "We owe young people an obligation to make sure that we're reaching them as well...because what we're doing, it affects young people the most."

Burke said using social media to accomplish these goals is key to younger participation in elections and politics.

"I think that looking at it through TikTok and Instagram and all those is really helpful for talking about the issues that are really important," she said.

The Kentucky Dems are the only ones finding an audience on TikTok. Georgia's Jon Ossoff used the platform leading up to his runoff election against incumbent David Perdue, and a number of legislators across the country have been using it to appeal to young voters.

RELATED: Oldham County Middle School teacher uses TikTok to engage with students

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