With nearly ten thousand subscribers on YouTube and over 3.1 million likes on TikTok, Angelica Song’s digital platform grows daily. Dedicating herself to helping future and current college students, this University of California, Berkeley junior decided building her own brand online would help her grow creatively and professionally. Thankfully for us, she answered some questions about building her brand, how she uses her accounts for the greater good and where she sees herself in a decade.
Keep reading for advice from “ur college sis” about building your own social media brand.
College Magazine: What inspired you to start building your own social media brand and creating digital content like TikTok & YouTube videos?
Angelica Song: I’ve always had a heart for helping students out for college admissions, internship/job advice, and overall productivity tips. This is something I do in my normal everyday life, and people always came to me for advice on these things. I know not everyone has the privilege and opportunities to pay for consulting advising help, so I wanted to share all the knowledge that I’ve accumulated. Doing it on a digital [platform] allowed me to reach wider audiences and help as many people as possible. As someone interested in a professional field in marketing, I thought it was only fitting to start building that “ur college sis” brand for myself online. I know that growing up, and still currently, these are the types of content I enjoy watching so I wanted to contribute!
CM: What came first: the idea for building a brand or just making content naturally? What went into your decision of growing your following?
AS: Definitely just making content naturally came first. When I first started TikTok & YouTube, I did a little bit of everything; however, I noticed that my college and interview tips always picked up and had a great response. That’s when I started to realize this is what works for me and people are coming to me for this type of content. I made the decision to start growing my all accounts in January 2020, and since then, I now (May 2020) have 100K followers on TikTok, 9K on YouTube, and 4K on Instagram. This might be small compared to other creators, but it’s huge for me because I didn’t have any social media presence before this.
CM: What unspoken rules/guidelines have you encountered that are not as obvious at first and should be more commonly addressed (whether it be specifically for a video, social media post, etc.)?
AS: The importance of authentic engagement by providing a value for people. That is why people come back to watch your stuff — you give them value: comedy, tips, fashion, etc! Also, it’s really obvious when people buy followers or engagement. Although it might jumpstart your social media presence, if you’re in it for the long run, that’s probably not the best way to go. Brands want authentic and honest creators, even if that means a smaller following!
CM: Would you encourage everyone to start a social media brand or should it be reserved for those with specific target audiences?
AS: I encourage everyone to start a social media brand if they are interested because it’s such a great time to test it out. Even if you don’t want to go into “content creating,” the professional world is all about building your brand as well. So building your social media brand can really be for anyone: students, doctors, teachers, etc! Right now because of apps like TikTok, it makes it favorable for anyone to go viral and build an audience. I think with trial and error, you’ll start to know what type of content people like to see from you. I try to make a mix of putting out stuff I really like and then also stuff I know that will bring value.
CM: What’s your advice for beginners trying to build a following?
AS: As cheesy as it is, consistency! Dedication is a really key component of growing anything. I also recommend that you be a consumer of any platform you are trying to grow. This way you are able to study the trends, see who is doing well, what is viral, and what is trendy. Of course, create your own unique content, but also be aware of what is working for successful figures and what the market is demanding right now.
CM: How do you manage the creative side (creating worthy content) and the business side (partnerships and things of the like)?
AS: I make it very clear to the brands I work with what my content brand is: providing lifestyle & academic insights for college/young adult people. This ranges anything from college prep books or best high school skincare routines — I try to make sure everything is in line with that lifestyle brand as “ur college sis.” Working with brands can definitely be challenging, but I learned that it takes multiple back and forth revisions to get to a place both parties will agree to creatively.
CM: What are some of the misconceptions of being an “influencer” that you think need to be debunked? Are any of the common assumptions true?
AS: Haha, well I definitely don’t like to consider myself an influencer because I feel like now it has such a negative connotation to it. But I will say a common misconception is that it’s super easy. And, I’m still such a small “creator” or “influencer” compared to the big players, and it’s so time consuming even for me to put out a 15-second TikTok. I can only imagine how much harder it is for the mega influencers. Sure anyone can be creative, but being creative with an agenda –consistently — can get draining and discouraging.
Following the rise of protests and social media movements in an effort to promote the Black Lives Matter Movement and condemn police brutality, we reached out to Song again to get her take on how the digital world comes into play with social and political movements.
CM: In the weeks that have passed since we last spoke, how have you been using your platform differently?
AS: I’ve been focusing on highlighting Black voices and experiences during this time to educate myself and my audience. I’ve also decided to take any ad/sponsored money and donate to BLM causes in May/June.
CM: How big is your following now? Is that a normal increase in following for the time that’s passed?
AS: I am 9.4K on YouTube, and 110K followers on TikTok. The growth has been steady and consistent! But there’s always peaks and dips.
CM: How do you see your personal brand changing in the next 5, 10, or 20 years? Do you see yourself working with digital media forever?
AS: I would love to continue building my platform to help my main audience [of] 13 [to] 25-year-olds live their best lives. This could be from high school tips or college tips, or even personal experiences as a young working professional. It’s crazy to me how much reach my content has and I would love to continue doing this as long as I can to empower the next generation.
CM: How would you encourage people to use social media for shedding light on important issues like sexual assault, racial discrimination and police brutality?
AS: It’s okay to not know anything in the beginning. Just owning up to your lack of knowledge is a huge first step. I would say focus on reading and learning as much as you can. Of course sharing resources and links are important, but I think making small changes in your personal life to be a better ally is where it starts. Nobody is perfect; I’m not perfect. But we have to try our best to learn as much as we can to shed light on voices and stories.
CM: What is your process behind addressing a social or political issue without posting content that can be deemed controversial?
AS: Educate yourself. Do the research. Watch the movies. There is so much free content online that there’s no excuse not to. Then, I started sharing resources and then actionable steps I’m doing to be part of the change.
CM: What’s your take on social media trends such as #BlackoutTuesday or specific dances on TikTok? Do you participate? How do you manage to make content quickly enough that you post while the trend is still relevant?
AS: I don’t really think it matters what my thoughts are on #BlackoutTuesday because I’m not a part of the Black community. And, the Black community itself is so diverse and large that I don’t think there’s even a single answer on #BlackoutTuesday. I participated more so by posting resources, sharing Black stories, and encouraging my followers to make actionable steps — even if it’s small.
CM: Do you have any new advice to give?
AS: Be kind to yourself, and take it day by day.