Utah Non-Profit Uses Tik Tok to Engage Utahns in Local Government


Legislative meeting at the Utah Capital building in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (Photo by Cassandra Palor | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carlene Coombs



With the start of the 2021 Utah legislative session, Alliance for a Better Utah, a local non-profit organization, began using their Tik Tok and Instagram accounts to keep Utahns informed on the legislative session.

Better Utah is a non-profit which “holds politicians accountable and advocates for progressive politics in Utah.”

At the start of the 2021 Utah legislative session, Better Utah starting making daily update videos on TikTok, informing Utah voters on the various bills, and helping citizens learn how to contact lawmakers.

Katie Matheson, communications director for Better Utah, said they started using Tik Tok as a way to connect with Utah voters.

“We realized that if our goal is to break down barriers and make sure this legislative session and that politics in Utah [are] accessible, then we have to be using the platforms that people are using in order to communicate this to them,” Matheson said.

Matheson shared they decided to start doing short, one minute daily updates to help provide an easy way for Utah citizens to follow what was happening in this year’s legislative session. These videos can include information about a specific bill, share things lawmakers say in meetings and help voters take action on particular issues.

“I think one of the most difficult parts of getting involved in local politics, particularly the legislative session, is there’s so much [and] you don’t even know where to jump in,” Matheson said. “So giving people one thing to watch for during the day seemed to kind of lower that threshold, that barrier of entry.”

Jenny Magaña, a digital communications associate for Better Utah, said she believes the recent Black Lives Matter protests and the presidential election have motivated people to be more involved in politics.

“People want to stay informed. They just are starting out, and they don’t know how to stay informed, so that’s why we try to use [Tik Tok]. I think Tik Tok allowed us to [reach] that audience,” Magaña said.

Magaña said she believes Tik Tok has allowed the organization to reach out to a broader audience, including younger voters.

While the organization emphasizes progressive politics, Magaña said they have received positive feedback from conservative followers. Magaña shared one conservative follower commented saying said despite not agreeing with the politics shared in the video, they appreciate Better Utah working to keep Utahns informed.

“So that was super great that we get the support on both sides,” Magaña said.

Matheson said one goal of Better Utah is to encourage more civic engagement and get voters to begin speaking out.

“We should all be deeply moved to show up because what’s happening is lawmakers are passing bills that do not reflect what Utahns on the whole want, but because certain people show up and advocate, those are the people who get the things that they want,” Matheson said.

Matheson continued by emphasizing the power one person has to make a change in government.

“One person has so much ability. If they just start getting involved, to change the way that our state functions, the way that our government functions. People I think have more power than they might realize,” Matheson said.

In addition to informing Utahns through social media, Better Utah also creates contact forms to help voters contact their representatives and “action alerts,” which help citizens know when and how to take action on issues.


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