Gary & Daly are two Tik-Tokers who became social media influencers, reaching 2.1 million followers and 42.2 million likes on Tik Tok. During a recent Zoom session with the students at the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, they shared about their life as a couple, business partners, and content creators.
Q: Could you tell us just a little bit about yourself, who you are aside from Tik Tok?
Daly: I’m Daly. I’m 20, I’m from Jonesboro, Arkansas and I play basketball.
Gary: I’m Gary, I’m from Arkansas but I grew up in Greenville, Mississippi. I also play basketball.
Q: How did you two meet and could you describe your journey as social media influencers?
Daly: We met like 5 years ago at a basketball game, my school was his school’s rival but we lived an hour apart so we never got serious. But then, after I graduated, we moved back up and we got really serious about two years ago. Six months into our relationship, I started making him do Tik Toks and we blew up off of our first video. We started going viral a lot, and we just grew from there.
Q: What was the content of that first video?
Daly: Gary wouldn’t make Tik Toks with me because he thought that was stupid, so I would make photo videos using our pictures. Our first video was sort of how you see us in public versus how we really are and it went viral.
Q: What made you two decide to start creating content for Tik Tok and other platforms?
Gary: We were both working at a factory for a year and we just realized a job is like…
Daly: …pointless? If you think about it, you work an hour for $10. When you’re a creator, you get to make your price so you can make however much you want.
Q: How are you monetizing Tik Tok, what are some of the things that you are doing in order to gain followers and make money? What is happening behind the scenes?
Daly: I would say basically what got us monetized was just doing trending videos, whatever was popular. And after you hit 10,000 followers on Tik Tok you can be monetized, and then you can get 10 cents per view. Everybody thinks the likes and comments matter, but it’s really the views.
Q: Can you tell us just a little bit about branding and partnering with companies and how that process works? How did the companies get in touch with you — do they reach out to you, do you reach out to them — how does that typically work for you?
Gary: There are two ways that you can get brand deals. Tik Tok has its own place, it’s called Tik Tok Marketplace: after 10,000 followers you can apply for it, and if you get accepted they will send multiple endorsements and sponsorships and you can just accept the one that you want to do. But most of our sponsorships come from, well we put our emails in our bio and all of our social media and they reach out to us with how much they are willing to pay, but then we negotiate with our price. Most people try to lowball you and try to pay like $100 for three videos. So you have to tailor your price.
Q: Can you talk to us about some of the companies you’ve worked with or some of the brands that you have partnered with?
Gary: There was Fashion Nova, Shein, Manscape… A lot of different ones. But we try not to do long-term endorsements because once you are with somebody for however long, you can’t work with other people. So we try to do either one-time deals or deals that last up to a month.
Q: Have they ever asked you to do anything you didn’t want to do or you just didn’t think that it would work well with the content that you typically try to create?
Daly: We actually just got asked for a vaping video, and we don’t smoke.
Gary: They were willing to pay however much but we just denied it because we were uncomfortable.
Daly: We would actually have had to smoke in the video.
Q: Is it sometimes hard creatively to be almost required to create content?
Gary: I’m not going to say it’s hard. On Tik Tok, there are multiple people with so much creativity so you can just take it but make it better. You can kind of follow the trend.
Q: How has the experience been from starting off small with Tik Tok to today with 2.1 million followers?
Gary: It’s amazing. Being someone so small where you do not know anybody to meeting people that you never thought you would meet, and doing something that is fun and making lots of money while doing it.
Q: Have you ever received hate messages or death threats?
Gary: Yes, all the time.
Daly: When I first started Tik Tok I was getting a lot of hate. It was really bad. Gary would ask me to do videos and I would tell him “I am not in the mood,” “I am tired” or “I don’t want to do it” because I was really trying to get out of doing it. But he picked up on why I didn’t want to do videos. He basically just sat me down and talked to me, saying there are always going to be people that hate us and negative comments, you just got to realize the love will outweigh the hate every time. You just have to think positively. And I really just don’t read comments anymore, just to save my mental health.
Q: Did you go to college? Or are you planning on it?
Gary: When she was in high school I did 2 years, I got my associate degree in construction. When she graduated, she had like twenty offers for basketball but COVID happened.
Daly: I really wanted to play in Texas but they weren’t accepting out-of-state students so I couldn’t go play, so I just decided to wait, and then I got Tik Tok famous so I haven’t chosen to go back.
Q: What aspect(s) of your life has changed since becoming social media influencers?
Daly: We turned into business people, strictly business. You have to think, when you step out of the house, you don’t know who knows you. Our neighbors knew us when we moved to our house. So when you step out of your house, you gave to be completely ready. You have to be looking like you want to take a picture. We went to a fair, and we took like 300 pictures (Daly laughs).
Q: How do you balance social media and your relationship? How do you separate the two if you’re having relationship issues but still have to put out content?
Gary: Once you get in the industry, you just have to realize it’s business, it’s not just content. If you are doing social media full-time, you have to realize that this is where your money is coming from so you have to do it no matter what.
Daly: A lot of people sign like three-year contracts with their management, but then they break up, and they realize they still have to work together. You just have to put a fake front and do it, it’s business at the end of the day.
Q: Do you think being a content creator is the new 9 to 5?
Daly: I feel like a lot of people are just doing it because it’s trending but it’s a lot of work. We’ll be up from 8 am to 5 am, barely getting any sleep, having meetings back to back. You have to make videos, a lot of people post every day… It’s better than working for somebody honestly, but people think it’s easy — it’s really not.
Q: Do you think that the cancel culture that we have today is an acceptable form of punishment online? What are your thoughts on cancel culture?
“Cancel culture” is a term used on social media referring to the action of withdrawing support or boycotting (ie. “cancel”) a personality, company, or group because of their socially/morally unacceptable views/actions.
Daly: You just have to be very careful about what you post. We’re in a world where we can’t say just anything. We are going through hard times, some people just say things they think are funny, but sometimes it’s not. A lot of people are getting canceled because of the things they are doing. You just have to be careful.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who would want to start making money on social media?
Daly: I would tell them to start on Tik Tok because Tik Tok is easy, it’s trending, everyone is on there. If you get big on Tik Tok, your Instagram followers are going to come in, your Youtube followers are going to come in… So I would start on there, doing trends or starting your own trends, and make sure your videos are good: make sure your lighting is good, you use the right hashtags, just think of videos that will look good.
This content was edited for readability.