#CoolNotFool – TikTok for change

The social media landscape is one that changes quickly. As a company working to engage young people in the digital spaces where they like to congregate, RNW Media can’t afford to simply rely on its large, well-established communities on channels such as YouTube and Facebook but also needs to adapt to new channels as they grow. And the channel currently taking young people around the world by storm is TikTok – a platform for short-form videos which has seen more than 1 billion downloads since its launch in 2016.

Forty-one percent of active TikTok users are between 16 – 24 years old, a demographic group that Love Matters India is keen to connect with. The platform aims to break down the many taboos surrounding sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in India and equip young people with the information they need for happy, safe and satisfying sex and relationships. Love Matters India recently partnered with Population Foundation India for an awareness campaign via TikTok called #CoolNotFool. The campaign encouraged people to open-up and talk about family planning, relationships and contraception and reached over 280 million TikTok users in India within a week.

Speaking at the campaign launch, Head of Love Matters India Vithika Yadav said:

Open, honest and engaging communication on sex, relationships and contraception using digital channels is gaining ground, not only in India but worldwide. Also, male involvement along with female (both married and unmarried) is key to healthy relationships and improving family health. The #CoolNotFool campaign is meant to engage with people in a fun, non-threatening, informative and engaging way to encourage communication on condoms, contraceptives and relationships. The idea is to redefine what is ‘cool’ and remove shame and stigma around talking about what’s safe and healthy when it comes to sex and relationships.

Yadav adds that TikTok is also an excellent tool to reach young people outside India’s major urban areas as it is popular in tier 2 and 3 cities. The campaign created 25 short videos in Hindi and Hinglish using Bollywood-style formats and songs to talk about condoms, contraceptives, consent, healthy relationships and family planning. Users responded enthusiastically, posting messages of thanks and appreciation as well as sharing videos they’d made themselves using the same dialogue.

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India (PFI), stressed the importance of reaching out to young people about contraception:

Young people need to have information on their SRHR, so that they can be responsible adults. PFI uses entertainment to shift behaviours and challenge social norms that consider conversations around sexual and reproductive health as taboo. We firmly believe that digital platforms like TikTok will help us generate awareness through entertaining content, especially among the youth.

RNW Media’s Justice4Her platform in China is also turning to TikTok to reach its audience and other Citizens’ Voice and Love Matters teams will be watching closely to see what lessons can be learned for their platforms within their own country context.

Check out more #CoolNotFool videos on the Love Matters India TikTok channel.