KCON 2022 Panel Recap #1: “Rise Through TikTok”
TikTok stars Jonny Tran and Reiner Acuario, who are also popular on Instagram and YouTube, respectively, discussed how their viral content has changed their lives, their advice for aspiring influencers, and much more. The panel was a great mix of deep, serious discussion prompts and light and fun banter.
After sharing a bit of their backstories - Jonny started posting to TikTok during the quarantines of 2020, and Reiner started his YouTube channel a decade ago - they shared which TikToks of theirs have become the most popular and/or the ones of which they are the most proud. Jonny expressed excitement at filming a video with CRAVITY, as well as seeing Mark Tuan post a clothes-changing TikTok, a video trend on which he considers himself to have been ahead of the curve. Reiner enthused about his now-viral dance routine for ENHYPEN’s “Polaroid Love” and recalled P1Harmony’s Keeho recognizing him as “The ‘Polaroid Love’ Guy”!
When asked how being famous on social media has impacted their lives, Jonny mentioned his invitation to VidCon, a yearly gathering of internet content creators he aptly dubbed an “in-person FYP” (“For You Page” on TikTok). Reiner described the brand partnerships he has been able to form with companies he has been a fan of his entire life.
The advice for aspiring influencers both Jonny and Reiner gave revolved around authenticity. Jonny reassured people that if there is a particular TikTok trend one is not fond of, one shouldn’t feel obligated to partake in it, because trends come and go, and what will last is the content one feels truly passionate when making. He also advised against copying every single trend due to the risk of burnout, reminding people that although TikTok takes up a couple of hours of his days, he is already thinking about what he ought to post next right after those hours end. The endless cycle of posting and thinking of what to post next can be draining. He recalled a time he was even physically ill from the grind. Jonny repeatedly emphasized how important it is to strike a balance between maintaining a consistent and relatively frequent uploading schedule and preventing burnout. Reiner reiterated this sentiment and advised people to remember that “At the end of the day, if you like the content you’re making, there’s gonna be an audience” for it, so creators should just be themselves and trust the fans will follow. Reiner also recommended not dwelling on the comments section too much, because those people “know my name, not my story.”
Lighter questions they answered revolved around their love of K-pop: their favorite group members (Jonny picked BLACKPINK’s Lisa, and Reiner picked Jin from BTS), their initial entryway down the “rabbit hole” of K-pop love (Reiner first got into it in 2009, whereas Jonny did after watching BLACKPINK’s 2020 Netflix documentary), and their favorite songs at the moment (Jonny picked “Boogie Woogie” by CRAVITY, and Reiner picked “FOREVER 1” by Girls’ Generation).
A wide variety of questions were asked by fans at the end. One person asked if they consider themselves full-time creators, and Jonny revealed it is actually much more rare and difficult than people think it is to make social media influencing a full-time career. Currently, Jonny considers it part-time work and primarily works in web design.
When asked for advice about making friends in the K-pop fan community, Reiner suggested attending in-person meet-ups, like KCON and cup sleeve events.
One person wondered how their family members react to their social media fame, and both gave the impression that their parents have been supportive yet a bit confused by it! Interestingly, both described keeping quiet about their budding online fame until feeling like they were having a breakout moment. Reiner previously filmed TikToks in secret in his garage, and Jonny did not even tell his parents about his TikToks until he surpassed 200,000 followers. Their families are certainly supportive now, though: Reiner’s parents actually attended the panel, and Jonny said his mom asks him to send her his TikToks (although he joked about only sending her “the tame ones”!).
Some of the lighter questions asked during the Q&A segment of the panel: their favorite concerts to have gone to (Jonny responding with Stray Kids’ MANIAC World Tour led to big applause), if they plan to see BLACKPINK on their upcoming world tour (a resounding “Yes”!), and the most random places they have been recognized in public (Boba shops and Wal-Mart).
Overall, the panel included a great variety of questions and answers, giving the audience a snapshot of what Jonny’s and Reiner’s lives are like, an overview of what their social media content entails, and an impression that they are both likable creators worth following!
17 Carat K-Pop is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.