Trend: Abby Huckelbury
It’s 4 p.m. as Caroline Molloy walks through her garage, flings her Vera Bradley backpack into her room and plops down on the couch. She lays there, endlessly cycling through her social media feeds. Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat repeat. She does this for hours just trying to entertain herself and relax after a long day at high school. But for some, social media is not just a way to keep the mind busy. These apps have now become a source of income, a way to pay for rent and groceries. For Adam Stanley, social media helps him make some extra spending money. But as for Evelyn Wall, these apps help her to afford college.
Social media is one of the most controlling factors in today’s world. Apps such as TikTok and Instagram have made it onto millions of phones. People spend hours shuffling between apps, going through their different feeds. However, social media has now become something other than a source of entertainment. These platforms have created a way for people to make money.
Although social media has been primarily used only for entertainment, users can now earn money through these apps by promoting companies on their personal accounts. Creating these advertisements has created a quick way for busy people, such as students, to make money.
TikTok is an app where users can film videos of themselves lip-syncing or acting out comedy sketches, up to 15 seconds long, and choose from a database of songs, effects or sound bites to post onto their account for others to see. Users also have the ability to leave a caption under their own video, or comment on others. After founding the app, Zhang Yiming has become the ninth richest person in China, according to Forbes.
The app has quickly become popular since its launch in 2016, especially among younger generations including ages 11 to 18. With approximately 500 million users strong, according to The New York Times, TikTok is among the fastest growing apps.
Caroline Molloy is a sophomore at The Academy of Classical Christian Studies, a high school located in Oklahoma City, and has used the app almost every day since she downloaded it in 2018. Still living with her parents, as well as off of their paychecks, Molloy was looking for a source of entertainment. Something that would make her laugh and keep her updated on the latest social trends. Once the app became popular among her friends, she had to download it.
“I pretty much go on TikTok every day,” 16-year-old Molloy said. “Most of my friends have it downloaded and we’re always sending each other funny ones.”
Although Molloy does not create her own videos, she still uses the app to watch videos made by other users.
While TikTok remains a platform for expression and entertainment, it has also become a source of employment that allows users to post advertisement videos.
Although he no longer lives under the same room as his parents, public relations senior Adam Stanley continues to be funded by his parents while he attends the College of the Ozarks. Stanley had no intention of making any money from his content on TikTok. He only wanted to use the app for his own entertainment. However, it only took one video for his mind to be exposed into the world of advertisement and after that he was hooked.
“I downloaded it originally just to watch videos,” Stanley said. “I ended up posting this one video that just took off, so I kept posting more. Plus, I just really enjoy posting stuff.”
After creating more and more of these short 15 second videos, Stanley’s audience quickly began to grow. He currently has 560 thousand followers. As his account gained more followers, Stanley began gaining more recognition from companies looking to sponsor people.
“The companies I have done sponsors for have all reached me through an Instagram DM (direct message),” Stanley said. “Once I tell them I want to do it or not, they typically send a contract through my email.”
Stanley has promoted the companies TC Social Club, PinkHippo and KickBack Phone Stand and Grip. After agreeing to do a promotion, companies mail Stanley a few items of their merchandise and ask for it to be used in an advertisement video. He is often told that he can keep what is sent to him.
“I received free merchandise from every company that paid me,” Stanley said. “They send me their products, then I make a TikTok promoting it.”
After creating an ad, companies require Stanley to send them the video for review before posting it on his TikTok account. Some companies also include a caption to be included with the video as well.
“They like to view it first, that way they make sure you won’t bash their products,” Stanley said. “I usually ask what they want me to caption the video because most already have a caption in mind.”
When he first downloaded the TikTok, Stanley was unaware that he could get paid for videos he posted. He has now received a total payment of $400 for the six ads he has done.
“I started off getting $50 per post, but now I charge at least $100 per company since I have a larger fan base,” Stanley said. “I wouldn’t mind working with more companies in the future as long as I agree with their products and their services. I don’t want to represent something I wouldn’t morally stand behind.”
Just like Molloy and Stanley, University of Oklahoma sophomore Evelyn Wall is also funded by her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Wall pay for Evelyn’s food, her car, her phone, her education and even her sorority bills. Realizing all that her parents do for her, Wall felt guilty. She wished that she could take on a job to help pay for some of her expenses, but unfortunately as a nursing major she was far too busy. That’s when she received a message on Instagram. Just like Stanley, she was about to have her mind blown. Wall discovered that being sponsored on social media would fufill her hope of heklping her parents and she would be able to play a part in funding her own education.
According to Forbes, “the annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year.” Just like many other students at OU, nursing major Evelyn Wall was going to need some aid in purchasing her textbooks.
“Textbooks are literally just so expensive for absolutely no reason,” Wall said. “I just feel bad because my parents are paying for my school and so I always want to help when I can so I’m the one who pays for all my books every year.”
After being noticed on Instagram, Wall was asked to promote some items on her account for the company Packed Party.
Instagram, yet another app created for primarily entertainment purposes, has included more advertisements over the years. Because both TikTok and Instagram cost nothing to download, both companies have flooded their content with ads. According to The New York Times, after opening their feed to all advertisers, Instagram began “cranking up its money machine,” meaning “a lot more ads in your photo feed.”
For some, such as 16-year-old Molloy, having a lot of advertisements pop up while you are on an app can be irritating as they disrupt you scrolling through your feed.
“The ads can kind of get annoying,” Molloy said. “I mean I understand why there are so many, but I do wish there were less of them.”
However, for students such as Wall these ads helped her find the money to purchase her textbooks for a semester.
“Packed Party sent me a direct message on Instagram asking if I wanted to work with them,” Wall said. “They just wanted me to take a picture with this confetti pencil pouch and they sent me a caption to go with it.”
With the money Wall received posting the Packed Party ad on her Instagram, she was able to purchase two of her required textbooks for fall of 2018.
“I was really happy when they asked me to do it,” Wall said. “I decided to put the money towards textbooks for school because education is something that is really important to me. Doing the ad also kind of gave me the opportunity to help my parents in a way because I was able to pay for my books on my own.”