How K-Pop inspired 'fancam' videos are helping politicians go viral on TikTok

In the first UK election since TikTok exploded in popularity, political leaders are finding a whole new audience thanks to tribute videos which originated from fans of K-Pop.

TikTok is playing a huge role in the election.
TikTok is playing a huge role in the election.

The 2024 general election will be the UK's first since TikTok exploded in popularity.

With millions of users on the platform across all age groups, TikTokers have shared vast amounts of content about politicians, policies, the main parties and the campaign trail as the country gets set to vote on 4 July.

Some of the most common TikTok videos have been users responding to the political parties' manifesto launches and the numerous TV debates which have already aired.

One of the most popular forms of post is the "fancam" video, featuring quick clips edited together with music, normally lasting around 30 seconds.

Having been started by K-pop fans in 2020, fancams have now given TikTokers a way to post on issues they care about - as well as show their dedication to their favourite stars. They allow users to share their views on the personalities central to trending stories - usually in a positive, supportive way.

The general election has been no exception. 'Election fancams' show politicians speaking for a few seconds, as background audio gets progressively louder. When the speech is over, music kicks in and video switches to slow motion, in a distinctive video tribute.

The short length of most fancams means users usually end up watching them multiple times, adding to their view count and making them more likely to be promoted in other TikTokers' feeds. Most videos are set to a current song, adding to their virality and helping them rack up hundreds of thousands of views.

The most viral videos have been shared across the political spectrum too. Fans of Nigel Farage and Reform have posted fancams, with some generating more than 70,000 views online. Labour's Angela Rayner, the Green Party's Carla Denyer.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak even has a handful of fancam videos in his honour - although Yahoo News UK found it more difficult to find 'Rishi fancam edits' posted since he announced the snap election on 22 May.

One recent fancam video shows Labour's Angela Rayner and Conservative Penny Mordaunt, using footage from a recent general election TV debate, and currently has more than 180k views.

The Labour deputy leader is the subject of several fancam videos, with supportive TikTokers branding her 'Angela Slayer', 'our northern queen' and 'the future deputy PM' in the 30-second tribute clips.

The Green Party leader Carla Denyer also gets a bit of love - again using a clip for a TV debate.

Such is TikTokers' creativity, along with the versatility of the platform, that even debate footage from the House of Commons between Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak has been repurposed into fancam footage.

And in a true sign that fancams have broken through from TikTok into the mainstream, the Lib Dem candidate for Taunton, Gideon Amos, even created one for himself and posted it during his campaign.

Plenty of superfans spend hours compiling clips, editing footage and setting it to music as part of the fancam production process. They'll typically scour YouTube or social media to find suitable clips of their subjects, whether it's pop stars, actors, celebrities, musicians... or even politicians, before adding them to editing software.

However, the rise of fancam videos is also partly due to apps like CapCut, which simplify the editing process and take some of the human steps out by connecting the clips to music with AI.

It is thought that the fancam video trend originated through fans of K-Pop in around 2020.

Fans of K-Pop ('K-Pop stans'), began posting short, music-filled tributes to music idols like EXID's Hani, BTS' Jungkook, and Loona's Chuu, among others, as a way of showing their fandom, promoting the artist, or even derailing other conversations online.

Often edited and posted in a vertical 'portrait' format to make them ultra-shareable on mobile devices, they were even used originally to hijack completely separate hashtags like #whitelivesmatter.

While some have used AI-generated content to make their 30-second fan videos a bit slicker, there’s no doubt it has also brought with it a more sinister - and anti-democratic - element.

The Alan Turing Institute warned shortly after the election was called that AI deepfakes have the potential to cause widespread harm during an election.

Watch: Kay Burley, Emily Maitlis, and Mishal Husain feature on Tatler front cover as they prepare to lead election coverage

“Deepfake attacks, polling disinformation and AI-generated knowledge sources (such as fake news articles) are likely to circulate and create confusion over how, where and when to vote,” they warned last month. “And after the election, we are most likely to see political candidates being declared the winner before the results have been announced, as well as deepfakes and AI bots claiming that there has been election fraud to undermine election integrity.”

To combat this, TikTok has created a dedicated UK general elections centre to tackle misinformation. It also sent out a push notification on Tuesday, urging people to register to vote prior to the deadline that night.

Your guide to voting

The manifestos

The leaders