Going Viral on TikTokJul 07, 2022
One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to young people wanting to get into the football media industry is to embrace new technology and be an early adopter. I wish I had taken my own advice, I was late to Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, but better late than never.
In 2021 a social media guru friend of mine set me a challenge. “Post one a-day for 30 days” he told me, “then come back to me and tell me you don’t like TikTok!”
I wasn’t sure if this was the platform for me, I wrongly assumed it was only for teens dancing and miming, but it seemed like a simple enough challenge, so I decided to give it a go.
My idea was to show the funny side of my job: what it’s really like being a TV presenter and the problems we face.
I clearly remember the first video I posted, because it took me hours. It was a cold January night in 2021 at a Fulham game at Craven Cottage. It was during the Covid pandemic and so while the rest of the world were locked indoors, I was able to continue doing the job I love so much, and share with fellow football lovers what they weren’t able to see for themselves.
I brought my ring-light along me, with very little clue what I would actually do with it. I had my regular job to do, but then I whipped my phone out and started filming.
It was surreal entering the empty stadium and being able to hear the players shouting instructions to one another. Managers, journalists and players acted differently in the absence of fans; it was fascinating. I just filmed it, and explained what I do and what I had seen, pretty simple stuff.
Once the game was over I spent a good few hours trying to edit it just right, adjusting clips and finding music. By the end of the night my eyes were so sore from staring at the screen I actually couldn’t read the text any more. That one minute video took me hours!
I was so scared to hit POST, it felt really embarrassing, I had no followers and knew no one on TikTok, I didn’t really know much about it at all. But around midnight I hit that POST button and went to sleep.
I woke up the next morning to see thousands of people had seen my video. I couldn’t understand it; I had no followers, how had they found me? I had more likes and comments than any Instgram video I had ever posted before; people actually cared what I had to say, and wanted more. I was hooked.
I chose to be as honest and real as I could, never spending more than a couple of minutes on a video and not applying makeup or trying too hard to look good. I wanted people to see the real me, the one I wake up with every morning; I wanted something sustainable.
My following grew and I connected with some fabulous football lovers all over the world. Within a year I’d reached over 200 thousand followers and had videos that went viral regularly. Big companies were contacting me to use my content- ESPN, LadBible, BBC and Sky Sports. I even danced and mimed, and generally took life a little less seriously. Honestly, TikTok was the (re)making of me. I’d had two children, and presenting work was harder to come by despite my many years of experience. I felt I had so much to give, and suddenly I had found an audience who wanted to listen.
TikTok now provides me a platform where I can earn money from home and it gives me the ability to make content without having to travel. Now I am represented by a social media management team and get brands contacting me to post for them. I found myself on a stage speaking about TikTok to a room of industry specialists, contacting big football clubs to help them with their TikTok content; I even refurbished my bathroom with a brand deal; it’s truly mind-blowing.
I have videos that have reached over 13 million eyeballs and I have people approaching me for photos in the street; just like how it all began for me on traditional TV a couple of decades ago.
So the moral of this story is not to make assumptions about things you don’t know about and try and embrace new innovation, I’m so pleased I did.
I aim to hit a million followers and I feel it’s a big year for me, with the Women’s Euros and the World Cup. Watch this space, come and follow me on my journey and help me to that million.