A Blog by Jonathan Low


Mar 9, 2020

Guy With 1 Million TikTok Followers Now Advises Brands On How To Do So

TikTok is now for younger audiences.

But the strategic question is whether it will fade or can challenge Facebook and Twitter.  JL

Rebecca Jennings reports in Vox:

I steer them away from posting content that isn’t relevant to the app. People don’t even care about the content, they just want to see that (brand) is embracing the app. They want to have a global box office hit, and TikTok’s big in China and India. That’s why it’s so good for people who want streaming numbers. If you want a global audience, TikTok’s the new place. Kids know how to do everything, and they’re popular themselves. I’m scared a 12 or 13-year-old will take my job in a couple years.
Six months ago, very few people were making real money on TikTok, the video app and social network du jour for young creators and aspiring influencers. Brands hadn’t really begun to descend en masse, and the home feed was mostly free of anything hashtagged #ad. The main perks to being TikTok-famous were high viewership numbers, lots of likes, and maybe sometimes getting recognized in public.
It was only a matter of time, though, before companies and celebrities wanted in on the potentially more than a billion eyeballs scrolling through the app. By the fall of 2019, major campaigns from brands like Chipotle, ELF Cosmetics, and MAC became commonplace at the same time as A-listers like Will Smith hopped on board. Meanwhile, TikTok stars were landing lucrative talent deals and topping the music charts.
That’s created an opportunity for the people who were already TikTok savants. One of them is 26-year-old Sean Young, who has nearly a million followers under the username @seansaucetv. He’d already been big on Vine, the now-defunct six-second video app, and immediately went viral on TikTok with his signature highly produced “prank” videos and collaborations with other famous former Viners.
That’s not where he makes his money, though. Instead, Sean acts as a consultant for companies and celebs looking to build a presence on TikTok, while also running high-profile accounts like America’s Funniest Home Videos. Today, he’s pulling in $10,000 a month from being on TikTok four hours a day.
I caught up with Sean at a TikToker meetup on the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, a favorite filming spot among influencers, where we chatted about how celebrities use TikTok to coincide with global film releases, what it’s like to tell famous people to do silly TikTok dances, and why silly videos perform better.
How did you first get big on TikTok?
It was right when VidCon happened [last June]. That was, like, the week I made my account. I saw my old Vine friends at VidCon, so I was able to make collabs with big creators. The first week I had my account, I had 100,000 followers. Luckily, I had the background of having 1.5 million followers on Vine, so I was able to blow up quickly.
TikTok reminded me of the Vines that I was making in 2014, when that used to be my full-time job. I was like, “I can just remake all that stuff.” In my first month, I already had a couple videos that went viral on TikTok and blew up everywhere else. It was a gold rush.
How’d you get into this business?
I was referred to America’s Funniest Home Videos by a friend who worked there. I started as an editor and saw that there were things they weren’t doing on Instagram, and once I took over the Instagram, I mentioned TikTok, and I turned it into this TikTok job.
Having AFV on my résumé was a good thing to have, but I’ve also run Instagram accounts for companies, so I’ve had friends thinking of me when it comes to that stuff. When I started getting on TikTok, all those people were like, “Hey, I have this musician or this person who wants to hop on the app, and I’ll have them email you.” Once I was on it, people started thinking of me as their TikTok guy.
The fact that I even have almost a million on my personal page, it’s just more credibility for me when I talk to brands and celebrities: “I know how to get your account the views you want. Trust me.”
When did business start to pick up?
Everything kind of happened at once in November and December. People were kind of unsure about TikTok, but everyone is up on it now and everyone wants to do it right. They’re actually reaching out to creators. It’s really taking off now.
I was getting referred to really big YouTubers, people on Facebook, and even A-list celebrities to help them with their TikTok launch. People who were established in other places, they might have a team that helps them on other platforms, but when it came to TikTok, they wanted someone who specialized in that.
How much money do you pull in in about a month?
December and this month are the first months I’ve made over $10,000. If everything goes how it’s going right now, I’ll make close to $150,000 or $200,000 [a year] hopefully. Coming from last year, I wasn’t really on TikTok and I was a washed-up Viner and now I have knowledge of making content on the internet, but now I just do it for brands.
Right now, maybe 10 percent of what I make is from my personal account, but I’m hoping to get that number closer to 50 percent. But I enjoy the stability of working at AFV. I just got a brand deal for the card game What Do You Meme? A lot of the musicians I’m working with, I’m also doing song deals in the background of my videos.
What kinds of things do you advise brands and celebrities to do?
I steer them away from posting content that isn’t relevant to the app. When it comes to celebrities and musicians, people don’t even care about the content to some degree, they just want to see that that person is embracing the app. They can do the dumbest TikTok trends that are only relevant to the app — it just shows that they have knowledge of it. We focus on what trends can apply to talent. They don’t know anything about TikTok, we’re telling them exactly what to do, but the millions of fans will think that the person’s on the app watching silly lip-sync videos.

What are those meetings like? Why do they say they’re joining TikTok?
I’m just on the phone. I don’t really meet them in person; I never do. That’s why it almost doesn’t feel real. Everything’s through my phone. It’s surreal to me that it’s actually happened.
What celebrities have you worked with?
I’m not allowed to talk about which ones, [but I’ve worked with] four of them.
The potential of it. The Charli D’Amelios and those kinds of people are getting so big on every single platform from TikTok, and it’s reminiscent of the old Vine groups like the Magcon kids.
For some of the other celebrities, they want to have a global box office hit, and TikTok’s big in China and India. There’s a huge audience in India, that’s why it’s so good for musicians and people who want streaming numbers. If you want a global audience, TikTok’s the new place.
s there a whole community of TikTok consultants?
Honestly, there are very few. Cosette [Rinab, @cosette] is the only one I know. I know her boyfriend from Vine, and I caught up with him randomly and he told me that his girlfriend does that stuff, and he put us in touch. Now she’s passing me clients.
What’s the secret to TikTok fame?
The app is so weird. The For You page is definitely catered toward kids, so you have to be really PG, but at the same time you have to be universally funny. Content that doesn’t require language or dialogue but uses sounds and music is a big part of it.
What content does best?
I make the stupidest videos for TikTok because the audience is so young, and I get a lot of hate comments, but I don’t care. Even when people comment, “This is stupid,” it’s helping it get to the For You page. So when I started playing into it, like purposely make these stupid videos, every meme page in the world posted me. So that’s kind of like the new strategy. You’ve got to play into it.
What’s the hardest part about your job?
Trying not to be burned out. There’s so much happening at all times. The life span of a video is, like, two days. Every account and new client that I’m working with, it’s trying to keep them up and going at all times and keeping them in mind whenever I’m watching videos. Between my two iPhones for work and my iPad, I’m on TikTok alone for four hours a day.
What’s your ultimate goal?
I don’t want to be in front of the camera. I’d rather be behind the scenes making sure everyone’s doing their job. I have a company, VRTCL, and my goal is to sell it. Record labels have their own traditional marketing, but if they could have their own TikTok wing, we could run campaigns for every song that gets released. We have in-house influencers who we work with all the time, and every song would have 26 TikToks made that helps blow it up. Having that built into a record label is really next-level. That same company can have relationships with TV shows and movies for promotion and doing all of that under one name.
What do you think the future of TikTok consulting holds?
I think it’s teenagers and little kids running A-list celebrities’ accounts. Kids are so smart, they’re growing up with this stuff, and they know the trends better than anyone. It’s not too hard, there’s a lot of strategy that goes into it, but these kids know how to do everything, and they’re all popular themselves, too. I’m really scared that a 12-year-old or a 13-year-old will take my job in a couple years. That’s why I’m grinding so hard now.


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