“Want to be in a WashU TikTok?”
Washington University in St. Louis junior Matteo Arshad is making his way across campus on the first day of school, microphone in hand, asking classmates what they are most excited about for the upcoming year. Junior Sachi Bhagwat hesitates at first, but is easily coaxed by Arshad. She doesn’t know him but, like a lot of students, she knows his work.
“You did that Taylor Swift TikTok, right?” Bhagwat asked. “That was really good. I sent it to my friends.”
Arshad is a social media intern for University Marketing & Communications and host of the university’s popular “tiny mic” TikToks. In the past year, he has produced dozens of Instagram Reels and TikToks that riff on pop culture and capture WashU’s unique vibe.
On this day, intern Molly Flicker trails Arshad, filming his interviews with an iPhone. Together, they will transform their one-hour shoot into a 70-second TikTok. She first started following Arshad’s personal TikTok account back in high school for his videos of campus life.
“He had all of these really fun videos of Mardi Gras and WILD,” said Flicker, a sophomore at Olin Business School. “WashU was already on my radar, but his TikToks made me really excited to come here. He showed that there was more to WashU than the academics.”
After graduation, Arshad hopes to start a career in digital marketing. Until then, he will continue to roam the campus, mic in hand. Here, Arshad shares how he got into TikTok and why he loves ambushing his classmates on campus.
How did you first get into creating content for social media?
I started watching a lot of lifestyle vloggers on YouTube when I was in fourth, fifth grade. A lot of them lived in L.A. and it was just them going about their days. And then when Instagram and TikTok became more popular, I got an Instagram account. At first I just did it because everyone was. But then I got more into fashion and started curating my photos around a theme and worked to create an aesthetic. Then TikTok came along, and it was so fun. I was making videos of my first-year experience — the campus, going out — and Cassaundra (Sigaran, executive director of new media strategy) was like, “We’ve seen your TikToks.” And I was like, “I’ve seen yours!” It was like my two worlds collided. It’s been so exciting to take my personal hobby creating this fun content and do it for WashU.
What’s your secret to making a great Tik Tok?
Because of my musical background, I understand beats and tempo. So I like to incorporate a lot of music into my content in a way that’s really cohesive, synching beats to clips. I’ve also gotten a lot more confident as an editor. There are some really terrific filmmakers out there, but I find that all you really need is a good phone and a good eye. Pick a song that’s trending right now, add a caption that’s relatable and then, boom, you’re done.
What do you like best about making tiny mics?
It’s honestly helped me learn so much about this school. I’ve discovered new places to go and have made new friends. Every time I have this realization, “Wow, I have my favorite parts of WashU, but everyone has their own special part.” It’s great to talk to people with different majors and different backgrounds. Honestly, every time I’m editing a video, I look at myself and am like, “I can’t believe this is going out to the whole student body.” But I love it.