In Search of Serenity
A story about my first video on TikTok and the viral moment that made me realize the power of this trendy platform.
The Butchart Gardens are without a doubt one of the most majestic and fantasy-like places I have ever visited in my life. The Japanese Gardens in particular, especially with good morning light and peak Autumn colors; are nothing short of amazing. I came here early one Autumn morning and managed to get in just after the place opened. I paid my $30 entry fee and immediately started speed-walking to the Japanese Gardens. I was so excited to visit this place that I had always heard about but never visited. And I was even more excited to finally have the chance to photograph it. Plus, I came on a midweek day when there weren't as many people in the park so I could better enjoy this gem in solitude.
After a bit of confusion and the occasional moment of getting lost due to the fact I was too lazy to find a map, I finally made it to the Japanese Gardens. Once I arrived, I setup my tripod and started firing away. I couldn't believe the photos I was getting, this place truly was a surreal location...
But wait, what does this story have to do with TikTok?
Well as you'd expect, I couldn't help but capture different media with not only my camera but also my phone. I had just recently upgraded to a new phone and I thought what better place to test out the camera capabilities than the Butchart Gardens?
The conditions, the scenery, and the colors were just perfect. Straight out of the phone, it almost doesn't even look real. I was so excited to share this clip on my IG stories later, but I had no idea that it would do even better on a platform I would soon try only days later, TikTok.
I was always very against TikTok, you could say. Anytime someone mentioned the name of the platform, all I could think of was a bunch of pre-teens dancing to trendy music. It really didn't seem like a platform for sharing anything related to photography. But so many people on Instagram were urging others to join them on this new platform and to take advantage of the crazy numbers that you could get with literally any piece of content. I figured it was time to swallow my pride and just give it a try; so I did.
I posted the above clip to TikTok, added a recommended song that I felt fit the overall vibe, and then waited patiently to see what happened. First few minutes go by... Nothing. Then a couple hours go by, 60 views. A couple days go by... 100 views. "Woo hoo, what an 'amazing' platform", I sarcastically thought to myself. Normally, I'm not so quick to just give up on something after only giving it one try. But I really expected this clip to do better.
The key though, was patience. Within 4 days, suddenly my video was gaining traction and showing up on the 'For You' page. Now I was going from only a few views per hour to hundreds; then thousands! I could hardly believe it. It wasn't long before I was actually gaining followers at a quicker rate on this platform that I had just joined; than I was on Instagram where I had been posting regularly for 4 years.
I was so stoked. Stoked about the fact this video was doing so well and stoked that I was finally getting some traction on a platform outside of Instagram! This was it, I figured I was on the road to success with TikTok. I was about to open up new possibilities and opportunities for myself through this platform. But... I was wrong.
I posted other nature clips besides just the ones I had taken in the Butchart Gardens. They didn't do so well. They got maybe 1-3% of the views of my initial video. So, I started posting more clips from the Butchart Gardens, with no such luck. They'd do pretty well, but they still failed to reach the same 'viral nature' of the first one. I even tried posting a montage of a clip from the gardens with some of my favorite images I had captured there, and it performed rather poorly in comparison to the video that started it all.
Ever since, I have had a love/hate relationship with TikTok. I quite enjoy consistency and ironically I tend to expect it from social media platforms when I really shouldn't. Social media algorithms are the last thing you should expect consistency from. Just because something went semi-viral once, doesn't mean it will again. You just gotta post for the sake of posting, don't put too much thought into it.
Well I still wish I could get the same views as I did on that TikTok video, I will still keep posting every so often regardless of the views I get. It's a fun little platform, and I've developed a small audience on there so I might as well take advantage of it. My advice to you: Post what you want, have fun with it, and don't worry too much about the numbers!
Thanks for reading.