Coming into the University of Florida, Clifford Taylor IV hadn’t played a down of football and Tik Tok wasn’t a social media platform. He didn’t know by the time his senior year rolled around, he’d find success in both.
Being an avid basketball player growing up, Taylor was a gifted and competitive athlete. Coming into college he took those skills to the intramural flag football field after his friends encouraged him to join their team. His athletic ability got noticed, and soon found himself talking with the Gator Football coaching staff. Walking onto a D1 program is hard, and even more difficult learning the ins and outs of a new sport in the process. Taylor earned his spot. About a year later Taylor would find himself learning the ins and outs of a new social media platform, this time everyone was just as new.
“A lot of people don’t realize this, If it wasn’t for the Gators if it wasn’t for Coach Mullen taking a chance on a guy who’s never played a down of football in his life. I probably wouldn’t be talking to you right now. I probably wouldn’t have as big as a platform as I do. I would probably just be a regular Social media user. I wouldn’t be a content creator, that’s for sure. I think a lot of people don’t realize that if it wasn’t for the University of Florida, who knows where I’d be right now.”
Connecting with the Audience
Since day one, the walk-on title has helped Taylor relate to his audience in an authentic way.
“I think the walk-on title definitely helps. Because Tik Tok is like our playing time. That’s our chance of fame and notoriety. I just try to try to use that to my advantage and try to share my experiences because there are 120 guys on the roster and not all of them are going to have the same stories or have the same treatment, or even have the same motivation to go on social media. For years it’s been like, don’t do this on social media, don’t do that on social media. But I was like what if we did that, but we did it in the most intelligent, ideal way that will not get us in trouble.”
Another big key in Taylor’s social success is being able to quickly capture the attention of his audience while not letting it get in the way of competing on the field.
“Let me do something that will grasp attention, but not cause any form of conflict with the team. I had to do a little bit of sacrificing because I didn’t really do a lot of Tik Toks during the season because I didn’t want to potentially have the coaches come across it and cause extra drama or something with the team. I would do like a couple here and there, sometimes they wouldn’t even relate to football.”
At the end of the day, Taylor realizes that not every post will be the best, but he still tries to be as relatable as possible. “I just think about things that I used to do when I was younger and maybe people have done it, maybe not but you just hope and pray that everyone can understand where you’re coming from.”
It took about 50 Tik Toks for Taylor to fully get comfortable using his voice. He hadn’t talked on the app until he did a Tik Tok live. Usually, the sounds and music spoke for him and Taylor would just act them out. Once he started using his voice more, Taylor experienced more growth.
“I’ll speak more about my experiences, and I’ll answers certain questions now like, ‘tell us about your experience at Florida, tell us about the ups and downs that you face or tell us a funny story or something like that. Using your voice definitely does help, even though I was trying really not to use it, because I was afraid that people would be like do this or that. But, I just kind of had to, overcome that whole aspect and go with the flow and do what I’m doing because it’s been working for about a year and a half now.”
Using your voice can be uncomfortable at first, but when asked about experiencing any negativity on the platform, Taylor said it was rare.
“I don’t really get much negativity at all. But, when I do respond to people, they’re like, ‘Oh, my, oh my goodness, I’m such a huge fan.’ You gotta understand, I’m closer to y’all than the pros if we’re being honest. Now that I’m an alum, I’m a sports fan, just like y’all like, I’m one of you. Whenever people say like, ‘Oh my God, I’m a huge fan’ I just I take that as the best compliment ever, and this it would be selfish for me not to respond.”
Taylor is always on the go and thrives on being productive. Creating content has been something he’s built into his schedule in a natural way, while still keeping his priorities of school and football at the top.
“The way my class schedule worked and our practice schedule, it worked really well because most of my popular video occurred during the evening. Usually, that’s when I have time to make content, go live and, socialized with fans. If I had homework, I wouldn’t do any social stuff because I still have school. I still have bigger and more important responsibilities. Most of the time, I just go with the flow. Usually, if I have an idea, I’ll just write it down and do that later.”
After the Game
Every part of Taylor’s wild ride has set him up for success after the game. As a graphic design major, Taylor has always been creative at heart. With his new love of social media, combined with his major he has a bright future ahead beyond the field.
“There’s literally a creative media team for every sports team out there now. A good design no matter if you’re a fan of the team or not, people are going to react to it.”
Taylor has learned how to connect with people and spark reactions with his work on Tik Tok and Instagram too.
“I like to be very productive. I’m one of those guys who loves to get out of the house and work and do stuff. So if I can manage social media, that be the dream.”