Thursday 9 December 2021

Tiby, TikTok, and Tico Influencers

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My new book, Amanda911, is the first novel to explore the rise (and fall) of a teen influencer. I had wanted to talk to influencers for my research, but they seem harder to contact than presidents.

They receive hundreds, if not thousands, of messages a day, and many don’t use email.

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So imagine my surprise when I serendipitously met a local influencer through my son, here in Costa Rica.

Tiby Ulloa Uribe (@tiby_ojitos14) is an intelligent and talentosa 21-year-old dancer/singer/actress from Coronado who has put her studies at Universidad de Costa Rica on hold to pursue her career. Her mother, Karol Uribe, was the star of the 2017 film Insomnio2, directed by Marioalonso Madrigal. For many years Karol also ran her own modeling/acting agency, which is how Tiby got her start in the business, doing modeling jobs and acting in commercials, including one for Moviestar.

I didn’t meet Tiby until after the book was published, but I realized we could help each other. She could make TikTok videos to promote Amanda911, and I could help her leverage her fame into a real business.

You see, Tiby has just passed the 500,000 followers mark for her dance videos, which feature some of her own fashion creations. If I had half a million readers for my books I’d be rich. But the influencer business doesn’t work that way. You get famous first, then you find sponsors or sell products or look for some other way to make money. Just as Google and Facebook were world-famous companies before they made their first dollar, these young artists and creators achieve fame before they can make a living from their work.

And it is work. For those of us old enough to remember test patterns, the immediate gratification and 7-second attention span of social media may seem raw and frivolous. But it takes courage to point a camera at yourself and dance. And the platforms, whether TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, or others, are unforgiving, exposing you to trolls across the globe and jealous rivals in your back yard. And they are as demanding as any impresario for you to please their audience. In the book business editors are happy with a book every one to five years. TikTok wants a new video every day.

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“I never imagined myself having that amount of followers,” Tiby says. “I just did it to have fun.”

And that’s her advice to others who dream of being an influencer. Have fun. “Do the things you like. I enjoy every single TikTok I make. Whenver you are yourself, there is going to be something there. I’m just being myself, and that’s why I think people are liking it. Everyone is unique and has a personality no one is going to repeat.”

“There is a lot of latino talent, but it’s not appreciated,” Karol Uribe says.

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Tiby is one of a special group of young Tico digital creators reaching audiences around the world. You can find her friends Diana Acosta @soydianac, Schammir Vanderhoogth @vanderhoogth, and Adrian Garita Lopez @adriangaritalopez.

If you are a sponsor interested in partnerships or an influencer who would like to be profiled in Q Costa Rica, or just a dinosaur like me fascinated by this new world, we’d love to hear from you the old fashioned way, at msch912@aol.com.

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