These 2 S’porean Millennials Built A Biz By Tapping On The TikTok Trend

“TikTok is the application for Generation Z, ”said Cassi Yang, head of the Hepmil Creators’ Network (HCN) agency.

She said Singapore has over 1.5 million active users on TikTok and more than half (55%) of them are Gen Z.

“If brands are looking to target Gen Z or younger Generation Y consumers for their product or service, advertising on TikTok will definitely help grab their attention,” she added.

This is why Hepmil Media Group – the parent company of SGAG – launched this new venture, which is a content arm based on TikTok.

Leading HCN’s growth is Cassi, who has worked at SGAG since 2015 and who previously headed its Innovation & Marketing department.

Kylie Sng, HCN’s Creative Development and Analytics Manager, works closely with her. She had previously been responsible for reviewing SGAG’s content information as a data analyst, before changing roles to become a research and information analyst to create the research arm of SGAG in 2020.

The two millennials – aged 28 and 25 respectively – were the first two employees of HCN.

They shared that the idea for HCN was conceived at the end of 2019 with Karl Mak, who is the co-founder of Hepmil Media Group. The initial intention behind this was to bring in independent creators to expand beyond the SGAG ecosystem.

He wanted to share the content creation expertise they’ve honed over the past five to six years to train a new generation of creators, and focused on TikTokers to help them monetize their content.

Essentially, the goal of HCN is to ensure that creators who were already signed up to the network can make a living from their content. Particularly for a market like the Philippines, TikTok content has become the main source of income for some creators.

Since its inception, HCN has grown from simply creating branded content with creators at TikTok to being a digital creative agency. Today, HCN has more than tripled in size and has grown into a team of ten.

Ride the TikTok wave during the breaker

HCN was established in March 2020, just as COVID-19 started hitting Singapore.

During the breakers era, they observed that TikTok’s popularity exploded.

As a result of this TikTok boom, many brands have started shifting their budgets from out-of-home (OOH) advertising to social media and digital content to better reach their consumers.

“We took this moment to educate our clients about advertising on TikTok and also made an effort to ‘own’ the Gen Z space by being ad experts for (this segment),” Cassi said.

Recounting the beginnings, she further shared that most of their clients that they initially bagged were SGAG clients who were interested in Hepmil’s new offering.

Most of them were looking to target the Gen Z audience, but were worried about TikTok due to the news about security and privacy concerns. It was definitely a struggle for us early on – getting advertisers to believe in the app and its power to reach and engage Gen Z.

Also, many of our creators were young and up-and-coming, and brands weren’t familiar with these new creators as most of them were only present on TikTok and not on other (social media) platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

– Cassi Yang, agency manager of the Hepmil creators network

cassi yang kylie sng hepmil creator network
Cassi Yang (left) and Kylie Sng (right) / Image credit: Hepmil Creators’ Network

With or without COVID-19, Kylie stressed that their mission is still how they can grow and empower the next generation of creators.

In fact, HCN was already signing TikTok creators in the region before the lockdown and sharing with them the vision for how it can help them develop and monetize their content.

Unlike advertisers, Kylie said it was relatively easy to get the first group of creators to sign up. She felt that many of them connected to the network because of the credibility that Hepmil’s content business had gained over the years.

“Knowing that we were creators ourselves at SGAG, MGAG and PGAG gave the creators confidence that we would be able to think from their point of view,” she said.

It’s a win-win for content creators and brands

Kylie noted that designers and brands don’t understand how the other party works because they have very different goals.

“Creators are concerned with how to deliver value to their audience through quality content, while brands are concerned with how to convince the target audience that their brand can deliver value,” he said. -she explains.

This is where HCN comes in to bridge the gap between the two.

They match creators with brands that share the same target audience, then educate both parties on best practices to engage with each other so that both can achieve the common goal of creating value for their audience.

Kylie further describes HCN as a platform that serves as a “springboard” for content creators to carve out possible careers.

Hepmil designer workshop
HCN Creators ‘Workshop on’ How to Find Your Niche ‘/ Image credit: Hepmil Creators’ Network

It provides new content creators with mentorship and resources to help them prepare quality proposals and content for brands. Since the creators they interact with are at different stages of growth, HCN makes a point of adapting its training and development programs to meet them.

The network also relies on its in-house production, as well as its creative and strategic team, to expand the reach of content and creator channels.

Starting out as a content creator can be quite a daunting and lonely path as it’s still relatively unconventional – we know that because this was SGAG’s journey.

For creators with HCN, they don’t have to go through the same school of hard knocks that SGAG did to get there. The path to making a living doing what they love can be accelerated with HCN.

– Kylie Sng, Head of Creator Development and Analysis for the Hepmil Creator Network

Maddy Breteche Lo
Maddy Breteche Lo / Image credit: Hepmil Creators’ Network, screenshot from TikTok profile by @ poisonmochi

For example, they signed on with a designer named Maddy Breteche Lo (@poisonmochi) during Breaker after a great experience working with her. She eventually interviewed and joined SGAG’s creative team full time as a cast member.

“HCN’s mission is to develop and empower the next generation of designers in Asia – being able to create lasting careers for our designers is very rewarding for us,” Cassi said.

Rate renowned customers like McDonald’s, Samsung, among others

As a testament to TikTok’s popularity, HCN’s creator tracking has grown exponentially in a matter of months.

For example, tech and photography creator Arian Teo’s subscribers on TikTok have climbed to 1.3 million today despite starting his account only during the breaker.

HCN currently has over 50 designers in six different categories in Singapore. These creators have a total of six million subscribers, totaling 90 million views per month.

Great Singaporean personalities such as Xiao Ming (@sgagxiaoming), Lee Yik Keat (@yk) and Soh Pei Shi (@speishi) are also part of the network.

Although many brands have been slow to open up to the idea of ​​experimenting on TikTok, they have observed that brands often come back to try new ideas and formats on the app after working with creators. by HCN.

A campaign done with Sentosa that launched last October was their most memorable campaign to date as it was one of their first campaigns that proved they were capable of working beyond comedy.

sentosa safe management measure tiktok
HCN creators covering the Sentosa campaign / Screenshots by @poisonmochi, @arianteo, @sgag_sg via TikTok

“For the campaign, we asked a variety of creators with different content niches such as photography, lifestyle and comedy to take their own turn from the brief, while also incorporating Sentosa’s beach reservation system into the campaign. their script, ”Cassi said.

To top it off, the campaign performed well, with over two million views and over 240,000 combined engagements.

To date, HCN has worked on over 50 campaigns with various brands, including such notables as McDonald’s, Lazada, foodpanda, Samsung and Singtel, to name a few.

Cassi also revealed that they were starting to see an increase in top brands eager to try TikTok and work with their creators to launch campaigns.

HCN’s future plans

hepmil creator network
Creators at the latest HCN Creators ‘Workshop held at the Hepmil office / Image credit: Hepmil Creators’ Network

To date, HCN has had great success with its launches in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. In the future, they are also looking to expand to Indonesia.

Our mission is to empower the next generation of creators, so we plan to grow our community in these countries. (We want to) guide them not only in monetization, but also in channel growth.

– Cassi Yang, agency manager of the Hepmil creators network

Beyond TikTok, HCN has also partnered with US tech network Bent Pixels to launch YouTube Reserved Media in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on esports and games inventory.

This allows marketers to also create YouTube advertising assets in conjunction with popular comedy, entertainment, and game creators who work with HCN and Bent Pixels.

To learn more about how the creators of HCN can help develop high-quality, entertaining content for branding campaigns, you can check out their website here.

This article was written in collaboration with Hepmil Media Group.

Featured Image Credit: Hepmil Creators’ Network

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Jothi Venkat

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