Kara Carlson Austin American-Statesman
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) One Austin designer shows how the popularity of the TikTok app can garner huge engagement in a short amount of time.
Any social media user knows the rush a few hundred likes on a post can bring, but many users never gain much attention outside of friends and family.
Miguel Plascencia never expected to either, but one day last week he swiped down on his TikTok page to refresh his feed, and watched it update to reveal that hundreds of new followers and comments had been added in just a few minutes.
"It's just crazy that this is happening right now," Plascencia said. "It's just insane."
The 23-year old graphic designer and multimedia manager at Nimaroh Studios, a startup advertising agency in Austin, went viral just a few days before, after posted a short video in which his bosses say they will double his salary if he can reach 100,000 followers on TikTok.
The friendly wager has now turned into doubled paychecks and tens of thousands of fans on the social media platform, which lets users post short videos to music, sounds and effects.
The video, which originally posted on Jan. 14, randomly gained traction about a week later, helping him more than beat his goal in just one night. As of the end of last week, Plascencia had more than doubled his original goal, hitting 200,000 subscribers.
"I just got lucky," said Plascencia, who uses the handle @migplasc on Tiktok.
He posted his first ever TikTok on Thanksgiving. Plascencia said he all but abandoned the app until about mid January, when his co-workers at Nimaroh decided to see what it would take to gain traction on TikTok.
While one co-worker posted polished videos and got low traction, Plascencia's videos, which largely consisted of him joking around or taking fun, one-take videos, were gaining a few hundred to thousands of views.
"I was kind of in my head and to shut me up they were like 'Miguel, if you get 100,000 subscribers we'll double your salary," he said.
He immediately pulled out his phone and recorded the now-viral video.
The video shows the office, two of his bosses, and doesn't even show Plascencia's face. It also cuts him off mid-sentence, after he'd accidentally hit the 15-second timer instead of 60-second, leaving out his entire plea beyond the basics of the bet.
"I was going to reshoot it, but I was like no, this is true TikTok," Miguel said. "The voice being cut off like that. Nothing being perfect."
His first posting of the video gained a few thousand viewers, but he reposted it at 10:30 a.m on a Friday, figuring it might gain him a few thousand followers over the weekend, and perhaps he'd slowly hit the goal in a few months.
"At like 10 p.m, all of a sudden I got 17 followers in a matter of seconds, and the notification bar just blew up. I think was around 2 a.m. when I refreshed it and it just started going," Plascencia said. "It was so crazy to me that I couldn't go to sleep until 6 a.m."
The next morning he woke up to 60,000 subscribers and nearly 1 million views and immediately called his bosses.
Comments are still pouring in as new fans celebrate and watch his new content, and a few haters comment or make accusations. As of Monday afternoon, his follower total was more than 350,000.
"I think that speaks a lot to social media and how fast people can gather together and get something done," Plascencia said.
Vicente Lizcano, Plascencia's boss at Nimaroh, confirmed via email that the wager was being fulfilled, although the company did not disclose the amount of the pay increase. Lizcano said honoring the deal was "a no-brainer," as the video has been good exposure for the company.
"We didn't expect it to get the amount of traction it's had but we've been pleasantly surprised and happy to keep our word to Miguel and his new audience," said Lizcano, the company's marketing strategist.
Plascencia said people have sent him direct messages, asking about opportunities to work at the design studio. Nimaroh has had more than 60 people apply for an open position at the company and gained attention from people all over the world. Brands have also taken notice, he said.
The company is also offering followers a chance to win a trip for two to Cabo in exchange for liking the viral video and following the company's account, @directedbycreatives. The company said it will randomly select one person to win the trip.
The company's account, which was launched Jan. 20, was nearing 5,000 followers as of Monday afternoon.
"Honestly, I don't think anyone on the team knew how big of an opportunity this would be," Lizcano said. "We recognized the potential of TikTok and had several internal meetings about how to make content for this new platform but it was awesome to see Miguel's video go so viral."
Plascencia said it's hard to know for sure why his TikTok challenge gained so much attention. Social media is like a game where the content itself, but also factors like timing, are all crucial to success, he said. He said he also thinks mentioning Austin in his original video may have helped, along with his hashtag selection.
"It's interesting to see this side now, and having to think about it," Plascencia said. "In my head, I'm just am always kind of thinking about the user constantly thinking about what people would like to watch, what people what time of day people are watching."
Plascencia said the company is still figuring out exactly how to leverage his new following for Nimaroh.
Because his original TikToks were part of an experiment on gaining traction on the app, the company will remain a theme. Many of his videos already feature the office, and his co-workers.
He's floating ideas include partnering with brands and giveaways. He's also working to draw people to Nimaroh's blogs, TikTok and Youtube accounts.
"We're trying to see if it's sustainable. Since that day blew up, I've just been trying to figure out 'can this be a sustainable growth for me?" he said. "If it's sustainable growth for me, then that means we can partner with clients and figure out how to make them sustainable, how to make them grow."
Plascencia said he also hopes to leverage his newfound fame and social following to encourage good deeds, both of his making and by others. He said he does worry people will think it's not genuine, or ask why he wouldn't just do nice things off camera, and it could be "hard to balance."
"At the end of the day, I have to remind myself how I started," Plascencia said. "Like, don't put too much effort into these TikToks and just have fun with it and just create something that's homey or musical." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.