Another floppy-haired emo kid with pale skin and a vacant smile to match a vacant mind. That’s what I chose to lead with inside my head. My initial opinion of him went much further down an internalised homophobic, transphobia and misogynistic path before I stopped myself and realised I was just jealous that he is young, has millions of followers and is doing better in life than I am.
Guys like Caleb Finn can do that to people over 40.
We look at him and scoff about “kids these days” and “typical influencer trash.”
But as I started consuming more of his content, I found him to be very smart, adaptable and 100% adorable.
Introducing one of Australia’s biggest online influencers and personal brands, Caleb Finn.
Where you’ll find him
At the time of writing, Caleb has 21,000 subscribers on YouTube, 775,000 followers on Instagram and a whopping 15.8 million followers on TikTok. Given that there aren’t even 15 million people using TikTok in Australia, we can assume that this kid has gone truly international.
Caleb’s content has changed over the years. Whereas he started out producing a lot of lever horror-inspired TikToks, he’s a family man now with his partner L’il Soup (not her real name, obviously) and their young child, Finley, whose face he blurs in videos to protect his privacy.
This beautiful video of Caleb and Soup doing pregnancy tests as they were trying to conceive is the kind of adorable material we’ve seen a lot of since Finley was born. I mean, even this old cynic started crying when they got those magical two lines on the pregnancy test.
The following is closer to what Caleb’s type of videos are like. And even though his posts have been a whirlwind of baby stuff and young family love lately, he’s still producing the occasional horror-inspired video like this.
Like most early TikTokers, Caleb’s content veers into the goofy dance and lip-sync genre as well. Most of his lip-synching is done up-close in the typical style of young guys who know what make young guys love them. But his lip-synching isn’t perfect, which adds to him goofiness. And I believe that it’s this authenticity of his videos that really attracts his audience. The videos are very well produced, but he is far from perfect in them. Which is by design. We like something that’s excellent, but we are endeared to something that is a little flawed.
It doesn’t matter what this guy posts, it generates millions of views on TikTok. Ranging from 1.6 million to a whopping 43.6 million, he’s an engagement machine. And even on comments, where they tend to run at lower levels than other networks, you’re talking about thousands of comments. I don’t know how, or even if he reads them. I’d be overwhelmed!
Over on Instagram, where the following a much lower at 775,000, we see the same level of engagement through reactions and comments.
Having started his influencer career on the now-defunct Musically (which was bought and absorbed into what is now TikTok), he had a big head start on others on the platform. So naturally, ten years later, he is well-established with a strong fan base.
Although Caleb probably thinks of himself as an anti-brand, there are subtle hints to what his personal aesthetic is.
You will usually see him wearing black and white, as he and L’il Soup make fun of in this TikTok:
But he does vary this around a fair bit. Especially when he is cosplaying and dressing as a horror character. But I have noticed that the black-and-white aesthetic has dropped significantly since Finley came along. I’m not sure if this is because it’s not as important now, or that he’s just not spending the same amount of time and attention on his posts as he used to.
But hey, priorities change. People change. Guys meet girls and have babies. So it makes sense that what was important to him once may not be so important to him now.
You will see stripes showing up a lot in his clothing – definitely in black and white, but also other colours. Overall his brand isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. Creepy and kooky seems to have given way to cute and wholesome. I guess that makes sense. He’s not a 16-year-old kid anymore. He’s a Dad. Even though he manages at 27 to still look like he’s 16 years old.
You can see the change clearly in the two screenshots below—one from mid-2020 and another from early 2023.
Typical young influencer selfies, close-up shots, quirky and kooky moodiness. And then…
Girlfriend. Baby. Sharing the spotlight with others. Less influencer. More everyday guy with a life, a mortgage and bills to pay. But not your average boy next door. Still a little bit kooky… but a bit less now.
A lot of Caleb’s audience has grown up with him. They’ve followed him from his early Musically days on to TikTok and then have followed his journey from awkward teen to family man. They’re pretty loyal. And they really demonstrate the rapidly expanding demographic of TikTok. It’s not just for kids anymore.
They are also vocal. They like to comment. They like to defend him. Some of them like to troll, but even I get trolled every now and then. I seriously doubt that they are even majority Australian now. Or ever were for that matter. With his numbers, he’s global, which is a pretty good effort for a guy who hasn’t got any demonstrable talent at dancing, singing, or speaking – apart from his ability to stitch together videos – which he’s not really that good at either if I’m honest.
What Caleb did perfectly, was be on a platform VERY early, and invest heavily in the time it takes to build an audience. And while he can’t response to thousands of comments anymore and doesn’t even produce daily videos, he has reached that point of natural momentum where he doesn’t have to do much at all to ensure that the next video gets over one million views.
That said, when they’re not happy about something, they will let him know about it – as shown in this Instagram video.
What can we learn from Caleb Finn’s personal branding?
- Adapt with life’s changes – much of your audience with grow up with you
- Share your journey – when big changes happen, share them
- Stay Humble – with his numbers, Caleb will be pulling good cash, but he doesn’t flex it
- Be true to you – despite growing up, he’s still a little goofy and kooky. Always an emo kid
- Include those close to you – Caleb shares his spotlight with his family and friends. They matter to him
- Have some consistency, but don’t be afraid to mix things up – you can wear colours sometimes!
- Be on the channels that matter – it doesn’t make sense for Caleb to be on LinkedIn. Go where your audience is
- Match your content to the channel – Caleb has different content on Instagram than on TikTok
- Encourage your audience to follow you elsewhere – Caleb encourages his audience to follow him on YouTube and he incentivises this by offering more content there more often
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