Be willing to do things that other people are too lazy to do. I put a lot of time and effort into each video, and I think that it comes through and that people appreciate it. It helps me stand out among a sea of creators. My followers can tell that I put my all into each video, and they appreciate it.
We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?
In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World,” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Deutsch.
Jon Deutsch, also known as 24framesofginger, is a stop motion animator and video creator. In 2020, shortly after completing his animation major in a four-year art university, he started posting animated videos on TikTok and Instagram. His videos quickly became popular and are marked by his signature animation and storytelling styles consisting of smooth transitions and endless loops. In the last year, his videos have garnered over 200 million views across the internet.
Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?
Ten years ago, I was 21 years old and living in Israel, and I wanted to become a rabbi. I had just finished up my army service in the IDF, and I decided to enroll in a Jewish learning program in Jerusalem. As we know, people change — especially at that age — and after a few years of intense study, I dropped out of the program. At that point, I didn’t know what I would do for a career, but I knew that one of the rabbis who had taught me was doing meaningful work that I still wanted to be involved with. I asked him if I could work for him, and he agreed and hired me on a three-month contract. He was an author, and my job was to bike around and deliver his books to all of the local bookstores.
Over the many hours I spent biking, I had ample time to myself to contemplate my next steps. At one point, I thought of an idea that really excited me — I figured my rabbi could expand his audience if he shared his ideas and stories through animated videos, as opposed to the talking head videos that he was currently taping and posting. I brought the idea to him, and he loved it. He found someone willing to sponsor us, and then I began my half of the deal, which was to find an animator who would be a good match for our vision. This proved to be more difficult than anticipated. After a while of poking around in the animation world, I came across an animator who recommended a simple animation program that I could use to make the videos myself. Though I didn’t have any experience, I was up for the challenge. My rabbi gave me the script for our first video and I got to work. I spent a few weeks learning the program, and then I started creating the video. A few hours into working, I began thinking to myself, “Why is this guy paying me to do this? This is so much fun, I’d do it for free.” Eureka. For a moment, time stood still. I had tapped into an unrealized passion of mine, and I was amazed. That moment was when I knew that I was going to work hard to pursue animation as a career. I thought to myself, “I’ll never work a day in my life if I can make this work out.” Needless to say, that first video came out great. Over the next year, my rabbi and I worked on dozens of videos together, and those videos garnered millions of views. The rest is history. I studied animation at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design for four years, and a month after I graduated, I started posting my work on TikTok.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?
The most important lesson I’ve learned is that the problem isn’t the algorithm — It’s your content. The first few times that I posted on TikTok, I thought that my videos were being suppressed by the platform. I was Googling things like, “Am I shadow banned on TikTok?” and “Why isn’t my video getting views?” I remember saying to myself something like, “I just graduated with a degree in animation. I’m good at this! The app must be glitching.” I even deleted TikTok and redownloaded it once or twice, thinking that would make a difference. Over time, though, I learned that the issue really was my content — not the quality of the content, but the type of content that I was creating. I needed to animate specifically with TikTok in mind. I needed to get a really strong feel for the app and for its community of users in order to feel out how I could create content authentic to both me and TikTok. The content I was creating early on was stuff that would have done well in class as homework, or stuff that my friends and family would like, but that didn’t necessarily match the culture of the app. It took time for me to get a feel for the language of TikTok and grow an understanding of what would be successful on this platform.
We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?
I receive a lot of messages from aspiring animators from all over the world. I feel lucky to be a source of inspiration and encouragement for others working to pursue their passions and dreams.
TikTok also provides me with a huge network of fellow animators. We learn from each other, cheer each other on, and even collaborate, all via TikTok. I think it’s incredible that social media platforms like TikTok can facilitate conversations and collaborations among artists from around the globe, and that I get to play a role in that.
Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?
Have patience. There are people on social media who blow up overnight, but it’s quite uncommon. I started posting my content on social media in October of 2020. Since then, there have been months where I gained a hundred thousand followers, and months where I gained a few hundred. It’s an ebb and flow kind of thing. The most important thing to remember throughout this process is to just keep posting content you love that is true to your style and niche. There will be videos that go viral and that give you a few days or weeks of social media popularity, and then things will die down again until the next time that happens. For 99.9 percent of people, not every video will go viral. It’s important to stay patient and remember that this is a marathon, not a race. You want to create a brand that is long lasting, not a profile that blows up overnight and dies a week later.
Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?
When it came to career advice, my dad always told me, “You’re successful if you love what you do. And if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” This still rings true for me, though I would add that for me, success is both doing what you love and making a living off of it. I love what I do, and because of that, I feel like I’m on the path toward success. In terms of making a living off of it, I can’t say that I’ve reached my desired benchmark, but I am making my way there. I am still developing as an animator and growing my audience, and though I have had great success (and luck) in many ways, I am still working toward reaching my own standard of success.
What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?
Creating content is pretty much my full time job. There are weeks where I’m extremely busy, working 12–18 hour days, and sometimes even pulling all-nighters. But I always have Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath). Earlier, I spoke about how I dropped out of rabbinical school. There’s a lot about Judaism that I’ve forgotten since those days, but one thing I’ll always remember is the importance of Shabbat. One day per week, every Friday night through Saturday night, I put away my phone, computer, TV, etc., and disconnect from the world in order to spend time with myself, my friends, and my family. I relax and process the past week. In this day and age, especially with the current speed of social media, It’s the one time of the week when things slow down for me. I get to spend quality time with those who matter most, with no phones or electronic distractions anywhere to be found. It’s the most special time of the week for me, and it’s also a day to step back from consuming content. Sometimes it’s actually the time of week where I unintentionally end up thinking of some of my best ideas.
How do you reduce or mitigate stress?
In October 2020, I started creating content for social media. I had just graduated from college. While in school, I couldn’t have imagined that within one year of graduating, I’d be hired to make ads for some of the biggest companies in the world. I also couldn’t have imagined the stress that comes along with making an ad for a brand. What if I fail and then never get hired again? What if the company doesn’t like it? What if I accidentally leave in a placeholder sound effect that I don’t own, and then they sue me? The first brand deal that I accepted had me pretty nervous. I had a lot of self doubt, and I was stressed throughout the entire process. Thankfully, experience is a great teacher, and what I learned while making that ad (and many more ads since then) has taught me a few things about the best ways to mitigate stress for myself. With each video, work becomes less of a stressful nightmare and more of a healthy creative challenge. So, without further ado, here’s 24framesofginger’s list of stress mitigation tools: long walks, warm baths, exercise, deep breaths, a good night of sleep, and trusting myself. I try to remind myself of how lucky I am to do what I love and how I would rather be doing this work than anything else. Stress and nervousness usually push me to work harder and do better, but when the stress becomes overwhelming, I just have to remember to trust myself and my process and tell myself that everything will be okay — It has been up until now.
I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?” Please share a story or example for each.
1. Be willing to do things that other people are too lazy to do. I put a lot of time and effort into each video, and I think that it comes through and that people appreciate it. It helps me stand out among a sea of creators. My followers can tell that I put my all into each video, and they appreciate it.
For example, I’ll go way out of my way to film in unique locations. I’ve filmed at the bookstore, my dentist’s office, the supermarket, restaurants, a skate park, the gym, the airport, and a local farm, but now and then I’ll even fly to new locations to film. In the past year, I’ve filmed in New York, Massachusetts, California, Florida, Michigan, Montana, and Colorado.
2. Rather than just trying to create a post that will go viral, focus on creating content that is true to your style. Some people post on TikTok with the sole aim of getting a video to go viral. There’s no problem with that if the video that goes viral is true to your style and is representative of the rest of your content, but know that if you gain popularity from a single viral video, the people who follow you will be expecting more videos like that from you. And if they don’t keep getting more content like that viral video, your follower count might stay high, but I can guarantee you that on average, your view count will stay low. You want to create a channel where viewers know what style and quality to expect. If viewers arrive at your page and your content is all over the place, they’ll lose interest.
When I first started posting my work, I was posting two types of videos — stop motion animation, and video editing. I didn’t think I had to decide which kind of content I would continue making, but that mentality held me back, because half of my followers were there for one thing, and half of them were there for something else. Only when I decided to lean hard into one of those niches did things start to really kick off for me. These two categories are related and sometimes overlap, but on social media, it’s important to go super niche. It helps you stand out, and helps people have a clear understanding of what they’re following you for.
3. Don’t count views. I know it can be discouraging to have a video flop. And sometimes a video can even find an audience weeks later and then go viral. But even if something you post doesn’t end up gaining traction, as long as you stand by the content, and it fits with your style and your brand, leave it up. The video will eventually find its way to people who will enjoy it. This is a piece of advice that I’m currently working on sticking to. My wife has noticed that when a video of mine is going viral, I’m in a better mood than if a video I’ve just posted isn’t doing as well as I had anticipated. This up and down is one of the horrible things about being a content creator on social media, and it’s much easier said than done to not let the view count affect you, but try to post content you stand by and leave it at that. If it does well, great! If it doesn’t, that’s okay, too! As long as you’ve created something you enjoy, and you’ve learned from the experience, it’s a win.
4. Allow yourself to be surprised. There are some videos I post that I don’t think will get a lot of views, but that end up going viral, and there are videos that I post that I’m sure will do well that don’t. Be open. No matter how many videos I watch about social media, or how many books I read, I will never get it right 100 percent of the time. Being an expert comes with experience. Try to make educated guesses, but keep in mind that you’ll often get it wrong, and that’s ok. For one of my videos, I went out to a rare jukebox dealer’s warehouse and filmed there. I then went to a new location to film with a jazz band. I worked hard on the video for a few days and I was so excited to post it. It ended up flopping. On the other hand, I animated a video of myself making a hotdog that I was sure would flop. The hotdog video currently has 5.8 million views. I still don’t understand why it blew up.
5. Think outside the box. For example, if people are watching your videos but aren’t commenting, put something in there for people to comment on. I have a few strategies for this. One strategy to get people to comment more is to place something controversial in the video. I’m not talking about politics. I mean putting pineapple on pizza, or saying that Xbox is better than PlayStation — fun and lighthearted cultural controversies. I have a seven-second long video where I’m making a pineapple pizza, and it has over 10 million views so far. The comment section is full of comments about the pineapple topping. Another strategy I recently employed was creating choose-your-own-adventure videos, where people have to comment to tell me what they want to happen next. I’ve posted two installments so far, and they each have over 6,000 comments. People want a reason to comment on videos, and comments equal engagement, which brings in more views.
What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?
I get loads of comments from my followers with prompts for new videos. TikTok has an option to reply to comments with a video response, so I often make videos in response to my follower’s ideas. I do this to let my audience know that I see and appreciate them, and to include them in the fun. Getting a notification that one of your favorite creators responded to your comment with a video is so fun and exciting. It’s a great way to make people feel special and to make them feel more of a connection to me.
Another way to create a sense of community is to go live. I used to do live streams on TikTok, and that was a really great way to connect to my followers. I live streamed myself animating and explained what I was doing, answered questions people had, and just chatted with the people who were taking time out of their day to be in my live stream. It’s been over six months since I’ve gone live, but I still remember the regulars who would pop in. If your content is based around a skill of yours, or something that can be fun to watch, you might want to consider going live. If you cook, draw, or play music, your followers might love watching you in action. The first few times can be tough and uncomfortable, but over time, you’ll get the hang of it.
As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think we could all benefit from taking one day per week to turn off our phones, tablets, TVs, and computers and to have in-person interactions only. These technologies are created with the goal of keeping us consistently engaged. I recently read a statistic that on average, half of the adults in the United States spend five to six hours on their phones every day, and that’s five to six hours not including work-related smartphone use. We need more human-to-human connection. I personally have Shabbat, but I think that we should all have one day each week when we disconnect from our phones in order to reconnect with ourselves and each other.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she, or they might just see this. 🙂
When I began my social media journey, I doubted if I would be able to make it work. I was really struggling with this question when I had around 10,000 followers on TikTok. It’s a nice amount of followers, but nowhere close to where it needed to be if I wanted to do it full time. The moment that I started really believing that it was possible for me to be a successful social media video creator was the moment I received the notification that Zack King had followed me. He’s someone who has inspired me, and who has cleared the path for video editors and visual storytellers to be able to make a living on social media doing what they love. I think he’d be a great person to have lunch with.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
You can find my work at @24framesofginger on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.
For business inquiries, please contact [email protected].
Thank you for these thought-provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!