Social media has proven to be an immensely powerful tool for those who know how to capture the world’s attention. As more and more creators come for attention across ever-evolving social platforms, finding a niche and an audience is proving to be more and more challenging. For some creators, however, fame seems to grow overnight. SIMJI, a rising global phenomenon known for her rug tufting videos, is one such social media success story. SIMJI’s viral short-form content featuring original rug designs has over a billion views across Tik Tok, Youtube, and Instagram. Her intricate designs by her often reference pop culture, food, designer emblems, and even the profile pictures of her growing online audience.
SIMJI started making rugs during the pandemic, intending to make content from the beginning, and has seen her following skyrocket rapidly. Though she often sells rugs and takes custom orders for them online, her business is really about the content she makes along the way. When Simji first took interest in rug making, she was looking to return to an art-making practice, something she had been missing. After exploring rug-making content online, however, SIMJI and her manager, Kai saw an opportunity to carve out a new niche. “We noticed that most of the videos out there at the time were either tutorials, process videos, or videos with the goal of selling custom rugs and supplies, so we made it our goal to start creating entertainment-based rug tufting content to fill a gap,” says SIMJI.
The content turned out to be a hit with online audiences. From the beginning, SIMJI set her sights on achieving virality. “My goal was to be able to reach a broad audience by creating entertainment style content that would be interesting to people regardless of their interest in rug making or art,” she notes. Short-form content can result in short bursts of fame, thus for SIMJI, strategies for retaining and growing a community were vital for longevity. Some of these included a “rug a day” challenge on Tik Tok, which SIMJI says “became a collective goal … it was ‘we’ did it rather than ‘I’ did it. Active engagement with her audience de ella in this way has garnered SIMJI a loyal following granting her lasting popularity. The content she chooses to make into rugs often comes directly from her comment section of her. “When I look at my audience’s comments, it’s just never-ending content ideas,” says SIMJI. Delivering what the people ask for directly has worked for SIMJI. She finds that popular content, such as a series of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson rugs, beats out intricate, larger designs in terms of social media performance.
Knowing what your audience wants is vital to growing and keeping a following. However, SIMJI also notes that individuality and being true to yourself when producing content are just as important. Audiences want to see original, genuine content. They can tell when a creator is pandering for likes by hopping on a trend bandwagon. “Think about how [your content] will bring value to the audience … rather than thinking about what you want out of it. When you later decide to monetize your work, you will have more of a dedicated audience who will want to support you, just like you supported them,” says SIMJI.
Mastering just one social media platform is challenging enough for many of us. Promoting on as many platforms as possible is vital and a key to SIMJI’s success. The same content can reach different audiences on separate media platforms, and cross-promotion can make your audience more committed to your brand.
SIMJI says Tik Tok and Youtube have been the most helpful in expanding her audience, recognizing each for their different values. For her, Tik Tok is great for organic growth, where virality can come overnight. Tik Tok also allows for communication between other users and big companies. Communicating with these groups, particularly when one of her her rug designs pertained to them, allowed SIMJI to capture the audiences others had already cultivated. Youtube, on the other hand, feels more reliable and stable. “I love that the lifespan of the videos is so long on YouTube. You can upload a video and have it blow up eight months later, even if it did not perform that well in the beginning,” says SIMJI.
Ultimately SIMJI is passionate about making content and growing her audience because it allows her to spread joy while creating her own. SIMJIi’s ultimate goal “is to create never-seen-before content, build a community, provide value for the viewers in whatever way that may be (joy, inspiration, motivation, etc.), and make a positive impact in the world.” For her, “living richer means being happy and fulfilled. In today’s society, being rich usually means having a lot of money and while I do think money is extremely important, I don’t think it should be viewed as the most important. I think people would be happier if the definition of success was changed to mean happiness and fulfillment.” Through her ups and downs of her as a content creator, Simji found success and a passionate following by staying true to herself and making content she feels is genuine, fresh, and joyful.