Introduction and Interview Gabrielle de la Cruz
Images LIKHA Creative Summit and Kia Abrera
“See you on the FYP side” were Kia Abrera’s parting words to the audience during her presentation at the 2022 LIKHA Creative Entrepreneurial Summit. It was a witty and authentic sendoff, as the self-christened Edu-creator gave a talk centered on making it in Tiktok and FYP stands for ‘For You Page,’ one of the platform’s most iconic features. She recounted what she considers her break, a time when one video enabled her to gain a massive number of followers within a few hours. From there, she spoke to the audience about how she analyzed the communication patterns of Tiktok content creators and consumers and how she tried to follow such before going viral.
In between her tips on how one can land on someone’s FYP and all the communication lessons she shared, I wanted to pick Abrera’s brains on Tiktok norms such as the platform being branded as a space for dance videos and the instantaneous gaining and losing of one’s followers. Is going viral a matter of luck? And what responsibilities are part and parcel of being TikTok famous? After securing an interview with Chris Do, I was lucky enough to catch her as well; Kia was kind enough to promise me minutes of her time after the event. Our conversation follows:
Hi Kia! Thank you so much for granting Kanto this short interview. I want to start by recounting how you introduced yourself before your presentation this afternoon. You joked that you are a “TikToker, but not the dancing type.”
There is this generalization that TikTok is all about dance and entertainment videos. How do you think we can further promote Tiktok so that the general public can see and utilize it more as a creative and educational platform?
I believe that it is already being promoted as an education platform. There are campaigns such as EduWow, which I know to be one of the most record-breaking hashtags or impressions on TikTok. I think it got 1 billion views in a span of four months.
This is a good indication that the platform is literally evolving into more educational, more “edutainment” kinds of content. And I think that’s because people are also constantly evolving in the way that they consume content. So, it’s not sustainable for TikTok to simply stick with the trends or plain entertainment. People want to get value from it in the shortest amount of time.
I believe that as audiences evolve, platforms evolve with them. And as platforms evolve, creators have to evolve. As creators, the more that we put value in what we do, the more that we put value in what we put out there, the more that we can promote that platforms actually provide opportunities beyond entertainment and socialization.
Let’s talk about views and virality. You mentioned that one of the strongest lessons you learned is that going viral isn’t based on luck. Does this mean that you completely believe that making a name for yourself on social media is 100% about strategy?
Virality is a result of something that you create. It could be a piece of content that is so strong, the consumers themselves can’t help but share it with more audiences. I wouldn’t call this the science of virality, but it’s kind of the “secret sauce” or the “main fuel” of virality.
Of course, I believe that this still takes time. Simply because in general, it takes time for creators to find pieces of content that they enjoy doing and a lot of people could relate to. It takes time for us to find that sweet spot.
Once we do find that sweet spot, then that’s when we know we’ve found our groove. That’s how we get one viral hit after the other.
If I was going to put it in a nutshell, it’s simply understanding who you’re creating for. If you create something that resonates with the majority, then you have a viral hit in your hands.
One of the primary ways people find content that they like is through the For You Page. You discussed that this is Tiktok’s way of monitoring activity according to a user’s interest, it is how the platform listens.
With everything that’s happening in the world now, how do you think we can secure our privacy without losing the benefits of social media algorithms?
Every single social media platform has security and privacy issues. The moment that we put ourselves out there, there’s always a risk that others will steal our identity or create pieces of us for awful intentions.
It always helps to report to the platform, but I think it also comes down to you pushing for integrity. In every single thing that comes off of you in the platform, you have to start pushing for your own integrity.
When you create really good content, the platform itself recognizes you. When the platform recognizes you, the community in that platform will recognize you and some may even report on your behalf.
Apart from that, when you are a managed creator, you have better access to the platform itself. This makes it easier for you to report people who are trying to scam other people using your identity.
It all comes down to you doing a good job. The process is that you get recognized, you get verified, you get better access to the platform and its community, and somehow it just gets easier to protect you.
Speaking of processes, a huge portion of your talk was dedicated to communication patterns. Do you see social media communication patterns or processes being added to school curriculums in the future?
Hopefully, yes. I think the academe is starting to put more emphasis on digital transformation. I would say that it’s slowly becoming part of the curriculum. It’s not becoming an entire course just yet, but it’s already infiltrating the curriculum.
I think we’re getting there. It is just taking a little bit of time because not a lot of veterans are open to the idea. I think we just have to push it where we can at this point, hope for the best, and work with whatever power we have.
Right now, a lot of things are fast-paced. Your “break” was gaining a good number of followers within a day. Do you ever worry about instantly losing what you worked for in the digital space?
Do you see yourself in the same industry in the next five to 20 years?
I’m not sure whether I’ll still be here in the next five to 20 years, because my thing is just to do the next doable thing and serve as much as I can.
Do I have fears? I did have those fears before, but for me, TikTok is one platform. I can cross-pollinate across platforms.
I do a lot of self-assessment and practice having a lot of self-awareness. As long as I find myself and I know who I am and I know who I serve, I can build something anywhere. That’s what keeps me anchored. •
Kanto.com.ph is a proud media partner of the Likha Creative Entrepreneurship Summit.
Gabrielle de la Cruz started writing about architecture and design in 2019. She previously wrote for BluPrint magazine and was trained under the leadership of then editor-in-chief Judith Torres and previous creative director Patrick Kasingsing. Read more of her work here and follow her on Instagram @gabbie.delacruz.