How to become TikTok Famous
Today is the final part of our ‘How to become TikTok Famous’ series and today I want to cover two seemingly unrelated, but surprisingly interlinked parts of becoming TikTok famous:
Transcending the TikTok platform: becoming ‘IRL famous’
Mental Health & Wellbeing / Burnout
If you missed any of the previous newsletters, you can check them out here
So far we’ve covered all the steps of building an audience on TikTok and also how to monetize said audience through the medium of brand deals.
There is so much more we can talk about in the Creator Economy space, particularly around D2C revenue (the recent Influencer Boxing trend could be an essay in itself), but also around the opportunity for influencers to literally just become business owners, capitalizing on their audiences to seamlessly market their product or service.
I actually wrote an entire piece on this for Adweek which you can read here:
Today, let’s skip that - and pretend you have achieved two things:
Effective monetization of your audience
This is great! You are now a fully fledged influencer; you own a Tesla, you’re probably living in LA, you eat steak at BOA steakhouse and you even got a blue tick (you pretended it was no big deal, but was the highlight of the year so far).
Well, if you are privy to Warren Buffet or Charlie Munger you will have heard them speak a lot about “Moats”... a moat is an analogous term describing how defensible a business or idea is (you can read more about moats here).
Basically, the bigger the moat, the more protected and safeguarded your business is.
The problem is that right now, you don’t have a moat. TikTok could (and regularly do) change their algorithm overnight and in the click of a button somewhere in Beijing, your entire influencer career could be devastated.
It is time to hedge yourself against such events - you may have already unintentionally started doing this; but it is now key to actively start pushing your audience onto other platforms, in order of priority:
Maybe a Podcast too
Now, this doesn’t mean that you are abandoning TikTok - in fact, quite the opposite - TikTok should remain your priority as it is the genesis of your entire stardom.
But it is key to start spreading yourself around so that you are insured against any unforeseen digital catastrophes. Also it is just great practice to connect with audiences on different platforms in different ways, it allows for richer communication and you will ultimately develop a stronger, deeper relationship because of this.
The above is no mean feat, I would recommend a sizeable team to get you there - you’ll need a crew of people around you at all times to capture, edit and help you plan/distribute this kind of content. I could write an essay on this alone, but for now - just study any of the big ‘content machines’ out there and you will see they all have substantial teams around them dedicated to content:
You can’t do it all yourself.
To take this one step further, once you have begun to crack the above, you can also start to look at legacy media as a way to transcend your TikTok stardom and go truly mainstream:
TV appearances (e.g. Jimmy Kimmel)
Movie Deals and TV shows (Scripted or Reality)
Become the face of a perfume or fashion brand
The above will all further remove your dependence on the TikTok platform and solidify your stardom to ensure your fame-based career is long and healthy.
There’s only a few TikTokers out there that have really achieved this, but Addison Rae is probably the best example:
80m TT followers
38m IG followers
4.7m YT subscribers
4.8m Twitter followers
Successful Podcast with her mother: “Mama knows best”
Successful music career - 1m monthly listeners on Spotify
Lead role in upcoming MiraMax movie ‘He’s All That’
Launched Item Beauty makeup line
The list goes on.
You can see here though just how un-reliant on TikTok Addison is… Even if TikTok vanished off the face of the planet tomorrow, Addison is going nowhere - she is hanging out with the Kardashians and is a household name for anybody below the age of 40.
Clearly the above is difficult to achieve, in fact - it’s beyond difficult… it requires luck, timing, insane amounts of work and skin so thick you could sharpen axes on it. But if you can get there, you are officially in the top echelons of social media stardom.
Which all leads quite nicely onto my next point and final topic of this entire series…
Mental Health & Burnout
Even the process of just writing down all of the things that Addison Rae has going on gave me anxiety. It’s quite unfathomable that one human being (especially such a young one) can be in so many different places all at once.
Of course she has her family and a big, experienced team around her and of course she isn’t doing all of it herself, but regardless it is A LOT and I am beyond positive the sheer amount of output has already and will continue to take its toll on Addison’s mental wellbeing.
But let’s put output to one side, we all know what it’s like to be busy - and let’s face it; this kind of work beats working in a restaurant…
But the stresses of being an influencer don’t just stop with being busy - being an influencer is tough in a way that is unfathomable to most people:
The constant public gaze analyzing your image at all angles
The never ending chatter about your character, your relationships, your past and your future
An unspoken requirement to always be happy, positive and grateful for the wonderful opportunity you have been given
A quiet resentment from outsiders (maybe even family members or friends) who think what you do is easy, vacuous and/or that you don’t deserve the fame and riches you have accumulated
The looming terror of being cancelled for something you did in the past or something you may accidentally do or say in the future
A never ending pressure to produce content or risk falling out of favor with the algorithm
Confusing social media friendships where you don’t know if someone actually likes you or if they just like the boost in numbers you provide
The pressures of multiple clients, team members, your manager, your agent to perform and deliver constantly - so many mouths to feed and they all rely on YOU
The unpredictable and ever changing algorithm that will often reward the content you don’t care about and banish the content that means the most to you into obscurity - creating a confusing and frustrating feedback loop that could drive the most sane of people a little mad.
The list goes on and on.
Being an influencer is not easy. In fact, it’s really damn hard. But like a lot of things in life, until you give it a go yourself - you will never truly understand just how hard it is. Only by experiencing it for yourself will you find an appreciation for those who have mastered this art.
Taylor Lorenz actually just published a comprehensive and very insightful article specifically about Creator Burnout and Mental Health here which is well worth a read.
With that said, I would urge anybody working (or considering working) in any part of the social media spectrum to take more interest in the mental health of creators - have more empathy, take more time to understand them, don’t be as fast to judge people online and please for god's sake refrain from joining the online witch-hunts that are so prevalent today with cancel culture.
Our company has recently partnered with a fantastic charity organization called The Jed Foundation who are focussed on improving mental health and wellbeing in young people.
Together, we have launched a TikTok channel dedicated to Gen-Z mental health and wellbeing called Glia and our hope is that we can shine light on this important topic amongst others.
Over time, perspectives and attitudes towards creators and the creator economy will change and evolve, hopefully for the better - in fact, I think it’s quite possible that over time, we will all become creators to a certain extent, especially with platforms like TikTok providing the tools that make it so easy to create good content.
I hope you enjoyed this series.
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Until then, speak soon
James, Nick and Dev
Co-Founders of Kyra Media