In only the few years that it has existed, TikTok has become the media app. Users can infinitely scroll through a variety of videos, ranging from social justice commentary to dancing thirst-traps. The audience engagement that the most popular content creators and videos generate are numbers that are unprecedented on a platform like this.
As a client solutions manager at TikTok, Victoria Manakis’ day-to-day is never the same. Working from the Toronto TikTok headquarters, Manakis collaborates with a multitude of clients who want branded, specialized TikTok campaigns. It is then up to Manakis and her team to design a campaign and optimize its performance with the use of media analytics.
“I would put together a proposal for them and present that proposal to the client. And then once the client decides what they want to go forward with, we’ll actually help them build the campaign technically in the platform and then once that launches, we would actually help the client optimize the campaign to ensure successful delivery,” Manakis says.
Throughout her career, Manakis has worked at many different companies including a large PR firm and as social media specialist for a biopharmaceutical cannabis company. All the experience she acquired and the skills she sharpened in her previous positions have helped her land the job at TikTok. What also led her to TikTok was the company culture.
“We’re spending 99 per cent of our day with the people that we are working with, with the company that we are representing, more than our families and more than our friends, so I think that’s really what drove me to TikTok,” Manakis says.
Manakis credits TikTok’s continued success to a key difference in the app’s design. Contrary to popular belief, TikTok is not a social media app. Manakis says the algorithm knows you after just 11 videos and is able to customize your feed from there. This often means you do not see content from the people you follow, like you would on traditional social media platforms.
TikTok has become the preferred platform for influencers to gain massive followings, but TikTok is also a platform for content creators to promote themselves, their business, or anything else.
“We are that digital disruptor causing noise in the industry,”Victoria Manakis
The ability to generate a successful career as a content creator is TikTok’s most enticing quality. Leanage began chasing a YouTube career while working part time for five years after graduating from the University of Guelph-Humber. She then transitioned to TikTok in 2020. Since then her videos on TikTok have gained her nearly 500, 000 followers and multiple brand deals.
“My channel kind of got stagnant in terms of growth and even views started depleting. My passion was kind of going away and that’s when TikTok entered the picture,” Leanage says.
“Beginning of 2020 was when I decided to take it a bit more seriously and that’s the year I just saw the most growth and in 2021 is when brands decided TikTok’s an app that’s worth investing into so I was able to make it my full-time job then.”
So the question is: how do you create a viral TikTok? There are a combination of tools that bolster the success of a content creator or a TikTok marketing campaign. Manakis says that campaigns with paid advertising dollars are a huge asset to driving the campaign. But what if you do not have those ad dollars? Leanage’s first viral video -which garnered over a million views in 24 hours- was a voice-over vlog of her day at the nail salon. From that moment, Leanage focused her attention toward her TikTok videos. Since then, Leanage credits her ongoing success to the consistency of her videos.
“I know it’s cliché to say, but honestly it’s consistency. I saw the most growth when I posted every single day and the quote I live by is ‘consistency kills competition’,” Leanage says. “Showing up every day for your audience is just so key and honestly it’s the way I’ve seen so many other creators grow.”
Leanage has now made content creating on TikTok her full-time job and has worked with numerous companies through brand sponsorship deals. Brands will reach out to content creators and either propose specific collaboration requests for videos, or leave the concept entirely up to the creator.
The ever-changing media industry has demonstrated that adaptability is crucial for survivability. While TikTok is still relatively new, its reach and algorithm are an industry-leading feature.
“We can’t predict the future and things can of course change, but I think that as a major global tech company that’s already so innovative and creative, there’s no doubt we’ll be able to shift gears and change with the times as well,” Manakis says.
As a content creator, Leanage understands her position can change in an instant, but she understands that changes are a hazard of the job.
“I remember last year I would accept every single brand deal and I burnt myself out because I was afraid of that rug being pulled out especially because I quit my steady job. I was like this is my only income,” Leanage says. “I still have the skills, the creativity and the content that I’m creating and I can just put that on a different platform.”
Manakis and Leanage both can attest to TikTok’s capability to create real-world change in raising awareness about important causes.
“We are seeing more and more now people’s voices are being heard that never had a platform to share their stories in the past. I think that there’s a huge platform and space to bring those voices to the forefront and as a company TikTok really supports these movements,” Manakis says.
“I think it’s definitely a powerful tool for people to be aware and be exposed to certain issues like social justice, but I think it’s up to each person to go beyond TikTok and do their own research into these topics,” Leanage says.
TikTok is the media app with all the tools to continue to be a force in the media landscape. Manakis and Leanage have both found different paths to personal success on the new platform and are looking forward to the uncertain future of content creation and management. One thing is for sure though, TikTok is here to stay and willing to adapt to do so. “I think that a lot of people underestimated it in the beginning,” Leanage says. “But now everyone’s kind of seeing its worth and its power.”