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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Zallo

Creative Engineer Steve Zilberman Cracks the Code to Virality Online

In a society influenced by social media trends, creative director and engineer Steve Zilberman has carved out his own lane online by cracking the code of virality over and over…and over again. As the brains behind some of the most memorable TikTok trends and other online moments, Steve’s formula has launched online accounts from zero to millions of followers in a matter of months. When the process is unveiled we understand that a viral moment is never made by a single entity but rather a team initiating several chain reactions to generate traffic. Once it’s decided that these chain reactions become more calculated, that’s where guys like Steve come in. Understanding the limitless power of the algorithm on platforms like TikTok, we see the power that social media has to take the concept of being an “overnight success” from a pipedream to an actual reality.

With a background in cinematography, Steve’s beginnings filming and directing documentaries gave him an early understanding of the influential impact of raw footage. Having won three years in a row with his film Motherland, the reaction from the Estonian Documentary Film Festival showed Steve that people were more likely to relate to his low budget film as compared to some of the $20k+ productions that were shown. Combined with his love for music, Steve’s band at the time, For All I Am, introduced him to an industry that would allow his keen eye for relatable, raw camera-work to thrive. 

Moving onto work with legendary bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Steve’s focus shifted to online channels where he would grow the accounts of influential YouTubers like lesbian commentartors Bria & Chrissy (871k subscribers) & improv comic Cherdleys (1.71M subscribers). Impressed with everything from his eye for design to his video editing skills, Atlantic Records artist Oliver Tree quickly employed Steve to run the creative direction for the visual components of his music career. With Oliver coining the term ‘hobo millionaires’, the two of them bounced around Los Angeles where they would experiment with inconspicuous film making, while tapping into the psychology of the viewer in order to create obscure viral video content. What they didn’t know at the time was that their efforts would position Oliver as a leader in today’s online culture. During their time together, Steve helped build Oliver from 10k followers on Instagram to over 1M in the course of 16 months, all while keeping his engagement at an average high of 28%.

Eventually, Steve and Oliver would part ways and viral engineer Danny Kang, Oliver’s now ex-manager, would take Steve under his wing. Known for identifying viral videos, like Mason Ramsey’s well-known yodeling video in a Walmart (78M+ Youtube views), Kang had heavy involvement in amplifying viral potential online. A mentor to Steve, Kang and his now ex-business partner Daniel Awad, called themselves “Good Luck Have Fun”, consistently maximizing the potential of online accounts (like the @world_record_egg) based on who ends up following something early on (refer to Rolling Stone article here).

Said to have the “lucky touch” Steve’s success rate with video curation surpassed everyone in his field, later drawing the attention of one of TikTok’s most popular content creators Bella Poarch (58M TikTok followers) and A-List pop artist Benny Blanco. Having taken Benny Blanco’s TikTok account from zero to half a million followers within its first month, Steve mastered the art of funnelling followers onto Benny’s other platforms, bringing his Instagram, for example, up by a quarter million followers. Perhaps one of Steve’s most recognized contributions to the TikTok world was his introduction of Hip Hop artist Tyga to the platform by elevating the popular ‘Macarena Challenge’. To date, the macarena challenge has generated over 836.6M user views.

With well over 1.5B video views under his belt, Steve remains a true leader in his field. Fascinated with the psychology behind the effectiveness of the TikTok platform, he calls the algorithm the ‘ultimate social media’. Unlike Instagram, Twitter or even YouTube, TikTok allows people like Steve to more or less predict which content will produce the best results. And he attributes this to the platform being largely driven by a much younger generation. When creating, Steve draws inspiration from what went viral in the past to determine what might go viral in the future. Specializing in cinematography, video editing, creative direction, photography and content marketing, Steve has positioned himself as an in-demand viral engineer for countless artists and celebrities alike who are looking to stay ahead in our internet-driven world.

Follow Steve Zilberman on TikTok here.

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