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If you are reading this post, you are probably a Boomer. Millennials say so. And also those from Gen Z.

All terms that, for us Boomers, simply mean we are old. Maybe not too old for Facebook, where pages dedicated to “the scourge of 40-year-olds on Facebook” have been proliferating for years; definitely too old for Instagram; let alone for TikTok!

Yes! TikTok is the social platform that characterizes Generation Z, the teenagers who are 12-15 years old today.

Yet Mary Jo Laupp is 51 years old!
Who is Mary Jo Laupp? She is a woman who enjoys spending time on TikTok. She lives in Iowa and works as a coach in a high school. And she hit President of the United States Donald Trump right in the gut, where it hurts the most. The international press is starting to call her “TikTok Grandma“… perhaps a bit excessive for a woman who is only 51 years old, but so be it.

But let’s take a step back.
About a week ago, Donald Trump made a bad impression when, visiting the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, he found himself in front of an almost empty hall. How is that possible if all the tickets had been booked? Blame Covid? Or the George Floyd case?

Neither of the two. The blame lies with all those TikTok influencers, of whom Mrs. Laupp has become the flag bearer these days. An idea was enough: to spread among TikTokers the idea of booking tickets for the Tulsa rally, and then not showing up. The idea went viral, and that’s how some content posted on an innocent platform for 12-year-olds became the tool that ridicules the most powerful man in the world in front of the international press.

What lessons can we draw from this story?
We must always keep our ears open.

Social monitoring is important! And Trump’s staff knew it, they were aware of this project that was germinating on TikTok, but apparently, they did not give it much weight.

Now, none of us are in the heads of Trump’s digital staff members, but many think that the initiative was taken lightly precisely because it came from TikTok, a platform that is not to be watched over too much because it is populated by kids, uninteresting for the President of the United States since they are users who are not yet old enough to be voters.

Another point to allow this idea to go unnoticed by Trump’s staff’s radars is also the fact that 10 days ago Mrs. Laupp was not an influencer. She was just a woman like many others with only a thousand followers. But when a message goes viral… it can start from any direction! With hindsight, it is easy to think of ways to prevent, or contain, this initiative. But personally, I wouldn’t have wanted to be in Trump’s digital strategist’s shoes in the days around June 20.

Another point of reflection that I would like to offer is to learn from the past!
Guys… we’ve already been through this with YouTube! That was also considered a platform “for kids who only post video game videos.” But those who were teenagers 15 years ago are now adults. The platform has grown, and so have both the users and the creators!

Are we sure the same can’t happen with TikTok? The platform is growing, and many digital creators are starting to experiment with it. Its advertising platform is about to arrive in Italy too. All signs that make us think that interest in this social platform is growing, day by day.

Further reading:
TikTok in numbers
Mary Jo Laupp’s official TikTok
Any other article you can find on Google using “Tik Tok Tulsa” as a search string.

Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash