In a world oversaturated with vloggers and videos of funny cats, how do you make a video go viral?
Pop quiz: What brings twins Miles and Malik George joy? Answer: Learning their educational TikTok project is making a positive impact.
With more than 300 videos uploaded to TikTok since Inauguration Day in January — no deliberate coincidence — the 21-year-old Woodbridge High School alums have garnered more than 52,000 followers to their upbeat, intelligent and humorous STEM-focused account @MalikandMiles.
The two, now juniors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), took to TikTok to spread a STEM message tinged with advocacy and advice. Natural teachers, they love the creativity and community of the almost three-month-old endeavor.
“We learn all these complex biology topics and STEM at school; we know they are important and we want to get it out to the world, but the nature of it and the detail tends to get it bogged down sometimes,” said Malik George, who is 11 minutes older. “So we show it to the world with a short explanation or a meme that we make up or a skit that uses the lyrics of a famous song going around. So knowing that when people watch those and they understand the topic that much better and have a laugh doing so is a great joy to us.”
“And the community aspect is amazing,” said Miles George, who is one inch taller. “Despite being all different walks of life and being all around the country, being able to unify that in a community and actually help them and connect them with people who have interests like them is really nice.”
Like many, the two first dove into TikTok when the pandemic hit last March. College went virtual and the two went home to parents Nathaniel and Sharon George and 16-year-old dog Shy. That original TikTok account, which featured random skits and commentary, had nearly 200K followers. A “decent popularity,” as Miles George said, but it had no sense of community — just “unfiltered growth.”
The brothers took a break from TikTok in the fall to focus on their studies as Biological Engineering majors and once the new year hit, so did their social media aspirations. They scrapped the original account, relaunching with a new one — @MalikandMiles. With twins in personalized matching lab coats, the goal was to make STEM accessible and interesting to all audiences.
“We decided that we wanted to try something new and do something that’s more personable to us,” Miles said. “Posting STEM-related content whether that be memes, and funny skits relating to the sciences, fun facts, little mini presentations and lectures on science and STEM projects — anything STEM-related that we wanted to talk about.”
That move sparked an explosion of new attention. Not just fun STEM tips, trivia and tricks, the TikTok account offers COVID-19 information, lab demonstrations, serious science and pop quizzes, as well as advocating and advising with quick banter and their take on TikTok trends.
“It is very important to communicate research from scientists to the public so with that in mind, we always wanted to kind of be modern day Bill Nye figures,” Miles George said. “Where we could explain science and what is cool about it to a wider audience especially in under-represented groups that have not had those opportunities historically. We figured that maybe if we started a social media account on TikTok that applies to many people in late Gen Z and Gen Alpha that we could get some popularity and get some more people interested in STEM at a younger age.”
For example, Malik George’s current favorite of their videos is a very short one done with the waterfall filter. Most TikTok videos are one minute or less and creators only have seconds to catch viewers’ attention as they scroll by.
“Essentially you walk onto half the screen and whatever is there is taken and stretched across the right side,” he said. “When we saw that, we said this is like a biological experiment called gel electrophoresis — the molecules move through a gel. So, we acted out a video where essentially we were both proteins and I got stuck in the gel. My face gets warped and I am screaming. That video got to Biology TikTok and got over 300,000 views. Just seeing how this very short video related to so many people and was received well was very nice.”
Along the way to their Biological Engineering degrees, the twins picked up a minor on African and African Diaspora Studies, which focuses on Black history and culture in the U.S. They are passionate about incorporating both their major and minor in a future career. To that end, in January, they participated in an internship for South Africa.
“We worked with them to add synthetic biology application to Africa and the country and also did some COVID research for them,” Miles George said. “With the intersectionality of the African and Bioengineering, it helps in that department, but having a strong understanding of race and culture definitely helps when designing new technologies and healthcare systems to be equitable for everybody.”
After graduation next year, the brothers plan on graduate school to pursue PhDs in Bioengineering, specifically Synthetic Biology research. While not positive about what happens post-graduate school, both Miles and Malik George want to pursue research.
“I know that I want to be doing biological research that someway helps the Black community,” Malik George said. “Using biotechnology to help various ailments that are historically predestined more to some groups than others. Whether it is advocating research and advocating for the field to become more diverse in terms of people doing that kind of research. I do know that I want to be working on both aspects in the future.”
“I would say that we both are in the same wavelength in that regard,” Miles George said. “We both care about promoting. We both care about research that definitely that works for everybody and corrects imbalances in the medical field and STEM overall.”
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While fraternal, the two are identical in more ways than not. Besides sharing a major now, both play tennis and together, were doubles champions on the high school varsity team. They shared — excitedly and willingly — co-valedictorian duties at Woodbridge High School before going off to MIT, their dream school.
“MIT was always renowned for its engineering program and also it was a personal thing, because Marvel characters like Iron Man went there,” Malik George said with a smile. “We wanted to go to MIT because we knew they had a nice Bioengineering department as well. Also, we got to see what the school was like our junior year of high school. We went here to summer programs there and we really liked the campus and the people here.”
Being a twin definitely has its benefits. With a twin, you always have a friend, Miles George said.
“It never bothered us being twins,” he said. “We are very similar in terms of our interests and life goals. This can be rare to find with twins, and so, we like always having the other around to support each other in whatever we do.”
Together, the two want to continue diving deep into the world of STEM education and advocacy as well as help others find their path. To that end, the George brothers have been speaking to students and plan to expand their mission further. This includes virtual live programs and presentations, as well as the launch of their own website, MalikandMiles.com, which went live Monday. It contains links to their social media platforms as well as key moments of their programming, links to groups the two have worked with, their Discord server which allows for additional community engagement and more. Their friend, Betel Tenna, who created their logo, also helped design the website.
“After we realized that our two fronts of initiative were gaining a lot of popularity, we decided to invest some of our own time and money to create a Malik and Miles website,” Malik George said. “Personally, I think the coolest section is where we are consolidating dozens of STEM and college-based resources for high schoolers. Not many are exposed to college summer programs or programs during the school year where juniors can do research or another program with a specific college. And a lot of these are free or offer very good financial aid.”
On March 31, the scientists gave a presentation for the senior class at Woodbridge High School. Principal Glenn Lottmann had only praise for the Class of 2018 co-valedictorians.
He recalled the “great moment” when the young men as high school seniors discovered they were named co-valedictorians. Their reaction was “so authentic, so genuine — they really wanted to be one, together,” Lottman said.
“They are not about themselves. They are about other people,” Lottmann said. “They just want to help everybody. That’s what they were like the first minute they stepped foot into our school. It has never changed. From the four quick years they were with us, they never faltered. They always put everyone first before themselves.”
Lottman added that what the George twins are doing with STEM on TikTok is “who they are.”
“It’s no surprise that they are doing that because it was like that when they were in school,” Lottmann said. “They were into everything in our school. Everything they were apart of was so positive in the school and I’m thinking it’s not because the programs were positive and they got in. No. The programs were positive because they got in — because they were a part of them. Everything these kids touched turned to gold – no question.”
The session focused on choosing the right college, Lottman said. There are plans for the two to speak with Ross Street School 11, which was their elementary school and Woodbridge Middle School, which they also attended.
“It was good being able to go back to our high school,” Malik said. “It’s been three years since we have been there.It’s nice to be able to speak with them and it’s good because we know the classes our school offers and the teachers there, the general clubs and things. We can give them specific information on how to get involved in STEM or how to get into college and what classes to take. As we continue to do this to the younger years of our high school, they will be able to — not directly copy us — but they will be able to emulate us or see how we did it.”
“We have been getting contacted by more around the country whether it be science programs or a high schools — people have been reaching out,” Miles George said. “We can talk about what STEM is if they are young, or how to pursue a STEM career, applying to college for high school juniors or how to pick a college for seniors.”
The George brothers hope to continue building on the foundation they created.
“It’s a good chance to build community and spread our message as much as possible and get our names out there into the world,” said Malik George, noting he and his brother also are MIT ambassadors helping underrepresented students during the admissions process. “And also we care deeply about diversity in STEM and in college and made sure equity in our groups and underrepresented people can be involved in STEM and are considered when all these STEM technologies are being made.”
“We are so amazed at how far we have come in such a short amount of time,” Miles added. “The connection we madehas been incredible. We just want to keep growing and expanding our reach with our two fronts of social media and school outreach.”
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TikTok Expands Creator Tipping and Video Gifts, Providing More Monetization and Marketing Options
TikTok continues to expand its creator monetization tools with the addition of video tipping and virtual gifts for regular uploads, in addition to live-streams in the app.
To be clear, live tipping and digital gifts have been available for selected live-stream creators via its Creator Next program since last year. This new expansion brings the same functionality to regular TikTok videos, which will add another way for users to generate direct income from their TikTok videos.
As you can see in these screenshots, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra (via Dan Schenker), to be eligible for the new Creator Next program, users will need to have at least 1,000 followers, and will need to have generated more than 1,000 video views in the previous 30 days.
Though TikTok does note that these requirements vary by region – TechCrunch has reported that creators need to have at least 100k followers to qualify in some cases.
As explained by TikTok:
“The new Tips feature allows people to directly show gratitude to creators for their content, much like recognizing exceptional service or giving a standing ovation. As is standard for tipping in person, with Tips creators will receive 100% of the tip value.”
Tip payments will be processed by Stripe, with creators required to sign up to manage their earnings in the app.
“With Video Gifts, also available today, creators can now collect Diamonds not only by going LIVE but also by posting videos. This also gives people an all-new way to interact and engage with content they love.”
That will provide expanded capacity to generate real money from posting, without having to go live, which will open new doors to many TikTok creators.
In addition to this, TikTok’s also lowering the threshold for those who can list their profiles in its Creator Marketplace brand collaboration platform, which enables businesses to find TikTok influencers to partner with on in-app campaigns.
Up till now, creators have required 100k followers to qualify for these listings, but now, TikTok is reducing that number to 10k, which will further expand available opportunities for both users and brands.
That could make it much easier to find relevant creators to partner with, in a lot more niches, which will add more considerations into your TikTok posting and engagement process.
As noted, these are the latest in TikTok’s broader efforts to provide comparable monetization opportunities, in order to keep its top stars posting to the platform, as opposed to drifting off to YouTube or Instagram instead, which have more established monetization systems.
The advantage that other apps have in this respect is that longer videos can include pre-roll and mid-roll ads, facilitating direct monetization, which TikTok can’t utilize given the shorter nature of its clips. As such, it needs to look to alternate funding methods, which will also include eCommerce listings, with direct product displays now the primary source of income for the Chinese version of the app.
The platform’s continued growth facilitates even more opportunities in this respect, with more brands looking to tap into the various opportunities of the platform, and partner with creators to maximize their presence.
How popular, and valuable, direct tipping and gifting can be is more variable, as some dedicated fan bases will pay, while others will see no reason to donate for what they can already access for free.
But even so, it adds more opportunity, and the lower thresholds for monetization will see many more opportunities across the board in the app.
Shorter Videos Are In Demand. Here’s How Different Social Media Platforms Are Reacting.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
With TikTok and Instagram Reels slowly conquering social media marketing, there’s no mistake: Short videos are in demand.
The average length for most, if not all, business videos is only six minutes long. And that number is set to decrease as consumers look for shorter videos.
With that in mind, why are short videos in demand? What platforms are implementing short-form videos the best? And most importantly, how can they benefit your business?
TikTok – Changing consumerism, one video at a time
Where shorter videos are concerned, TikTok has always led the industry. What started as a merger with Musical.ly quickly became one of the world’s most powerful social media platforms. And what made it so famous? The same concept that made Vine viral short videos.
TikTok has over 1 billion active users, twice as many as Snapchat and Pinterest. For reference, Twitter only has 397 million users. With such a massive user-base, the only thing keeping the platform alive are the 15-second-long videos.
But why are short videos so popular? Simple – people don’t have time on their hands. When they open apps like TikTok and Instagram, they’re more likely to spend time watching shorter videos. And businesses are already catching up.
The impact of Instagram Reels
With the invention of Stories by Snapchat, other platforms like Instagram caught up on short videos. Instagram Reels presents adults and young users with a more straightforward way to tell others about their day. It employs quick photos and videos that are only available for 24 hours instead of being permanently posted. Now engagement is encouraged, especially after Instagram included the “Swipe” option. This has allowed e-commerce sites to both advertise their products and make instant messaging easier.
Youtube has joined the bandwagon
While YouTube is more or less a platform for long-form videos, its recent update offers shorter vertical videos. Known as YouTube Shorts, the feature allows creators to engage with their audience in under 60 seconds.
But YouTube has another trick up its sleeve, and this one is mainly towards advertisers. It is “YouTube TrueView” and is the primary advertising technology for YouTube. Through this, advertisers can promote long or short videos, with some being skippable after five seconds.
However, since most people are unlikely to click on longer ads, YouTube now offers 6-second non-skippable ads. The clickthrough rate for shorter 15 and 30-second ads is around 70%, a whopping number for any business.
It’s time to say goodbye to IGTV
With Instagram’s IGTV coming off as less captivating than its Reels and video posts, it has decided to remove IGTV. Instead, it has a separate section for videos. These videos will appear on a person’s profile and can be viewed from the Instagram app.
The change they made here is that videos posted to the Instagram feed can be up to 60 minutes long. The exact reason for doing this is not confirmed. But it seems like Instagram wants a seamless platform where short and long videos co-exist.
This makes long videos more accessible to users using the Instagram app. And it helps promote video tutorials that people typically do not consume on social media apps.
Another significant change is that Instagram videos that are longer can be monetized, a feature not available on Reels. This significantly shifts the focus towards creators who don’t sell a service and want to gain cash through Instagram.
Does this mean long-form videos are out of the picture?
With short-form videos becoming more popular among consumers, will long-form videos die out? While it’s highly recommended for any business to create videos as short as possible, the answer isn’t that black and white.
While short-form videos will drive traffic from new users, long-form videos are better for brand loyalty. Shorter videos will get more engagement and show up on new users’ feeds. But longer videos will be the backbone of your business.
Of course, that depends on what service you’re offering. Ecommerce companies will want to direct their attention towards short-form videos and ads. However, long-form videos are better suited for when you want to go in-depth about product details. That is, of course, only after you’ve grabbed the user’s attention with a short-form video.
Companies that offer webinars will benefit from longer videos. And so will companies that post interviews. However, promos and how-to videos should remain under a minute or two, depending on how long the tutorial needs to be.
Essentially, ask yourself two questions:
- First, can the video content be summarized in a short-form video?
- Do you want to merely catch the attention of the consumer or develop brand loyalty?
The correct formula is neither short nor long, but a mix of both.
What this all means for an entrepreneur
Short-form videos hold substantial market value, especially for new businesses. Take the example of the Dollar Shave Club. What started as a viral video on YouTube grew to become a behemoth of a brand.
And that’s not where the examples end. There are countless success stories like this one that prove the value of short videos.
Short videos have a higher clickthrough rate, and for entrepreneurs, that’s all you need. Short videos are of particular interest to people with ecommerce businesses. For example, 84% of people say they are more compelled to buy a product by watching a video. And the statistics keep on showing a friendlier short-video market.
There is no doubt that short-form videos are gradually creeping up the graph. And while long-form videos are great for information and brand loyalty, shorter videos are better for PR.
This begs one last question: Are videos beneficial for you? The answer is – yes!
How to Make a TikTok Video: Beginners Start Here
And with 1 billion monthly active users, it’s time to join the action and get your brand out there to a wider audience!
Want to learn how to make a TikTok Video but don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it! We broke down all the steps and tools you’ll need to make a viral-worthy first video and make sure your debut is anything but cringe.
Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to prioritize and plan your social strategy in 2022.
How to create a TikTok account
First things first, you’ll need to create a TikTok account.
There are different ways to sign up for one: you can use your phone number, email address or social media account. Here’s how to do it using your phone number.
1. Download TikTok from Google Play or the App Store.
2. Open the TikTok App on your iPhone or Android.
3. Click the “Me” or “Profile” icon at the bottom-right of your screen.
4. Choose a method to sign up (we’re choosing “use phone or email”)
5. Enter your birth date and phone number (make sure this is accurate because it’s how you’ll retrieve passwords and confirm your account).
6. Enter the 6-digit code sent to that phone number (see, told ya!)
7. You did it! Celebrate by scrolling TikTok for too many hours.
How to make a TikTok video
Here’s how to get started on your very first TikTok video. Luckily for you, it’s way easier than learning this TikTok Shuffle dance.
1. Hit the + sign at the bottom of your screen.
2. You can upload photos and videos from your phone’s library or make a video directly using the TikTok camera.
3. If recording directly, hit the Record button at the bottom of the screen. Hit it again when you’re done recording. The default video mode is “Quick” which is for 15 second videos but you can switch it to “Camera” for more editing options and longer videos (15s, 60s and 3 mins), or “Templates” to create a specific style of video.
4. Tap the check mark when you’re done shooting all your footage.
5. Make any edits or changes on the post page. All your edits are on the right sidebar of the screen. Also, add music or sounds by hitting “Add sound” at the top of the screen.
6. Post that video and share it everywhere! Make sure to include a description with some hashtags so it finds its way to your audience.
How to make a TikTok with multiple videos
Instead of taking one long video, why not capture shorter videos and edit them together to make your TikTok video? Here’s how to do that (and you don’t need a film degree).
1. Hit that “+” sign to start your video
2. You can either shoot multiple videos directly by hitting that record button after each clip, building up your video with different shots. Or, you can hit the “Upload” button next to the record button and add multiple videos and photos you have stored on your phone.
3. Select all your media and tap Next.
4. You can now sync sound across your videos and make adjustments (or try “Auto sync” which will do the syncing up for you.)
5. Hit Next when done. You’ll be brought to a preview screen where you can further add sounds, more effects, text, and stickers.
6. Tap Next when you’re done editing your video and proceed to the Post screen.
7. Remember to throw in a description and some hashtags and bingo-bango-bongo you’re the Steven Spielberg of TikTok!
5 things to know before creating your first TikTok
TikTok style is less polished than other types of video
Don’t worry about being too precious with your videos. On TikTok, videos are meant to be candid, and natural—and they should show off your personality. Things like perfect edits, smooth transitions or flawless lighting shouldn’t get in the way of your idea and your own charisma.
Sure, there are lots of editing options, effects and filters to choose from (what the heck is the difference between B3 and G4 filters anyways?) but the real star is you —or, at least all 6 of these friends belting out Lady Gaga for the #caughtinabadromance challenge at this bachelorette. If that’s not candid, I don’t know what is.
You don’t have to dance
Good news! You don’t have to spend 2 hours trying to perfect the LaLisa dance tutorial to make sure your video stands out (unless you want to, then no judgment over here!).
There are so many different ways to engage your followers that don’t involve you popping and locking in your living room in front of a ring light (but again, no judgement if you do, except maybe from your pet and their adorable judging eyes).
You also don’t have to attempt whatever this is.
Hashtags can help more people see your post
It’s no secret a good hashtag can go a long way on TikTok. Strategic use of hashtags will help people find your videos who don’t already follow you, and maybe even see it on their For You Page (FYP).
The right song can go a long way
Attaching a trending song to your video or audio from a popular TikTok video can help it get seen by more people. This app has a big music following (lots of new songs are intentionally promoted through the app to help them climb the music charts) so lassoing your video to one of these shooting stars is only going to help you get on more FYP and in front of new audiences.
Your greatest asset is you
Don’t overthink it, just come up with a simple idea and let your personality shine through. The sense of intimacy and community that TikTok brings is why people love this app—it feels personal.
Even if you’re doing a TikTok challenge or trend that’s popular, the thing that will make you stand out is your unique take on it. It’s not about gimmicks but about putting your best self out there. Nothing should feel too staged or self-aware (that’s cringe territory). Pretend your audience are your good friends and approach it with that energy!
@janikon_No, I can’t re-record this, I’m laughing too hard #fyp♬ original sound – Stu (he/him)