A Nanaimo TikTok creator has attracted millions of views posting tips and tricks about the human body, and is always in search of the next viral video.
Mike DeVries, a 20-year-old Vancouver Island University student, is the man behind the @yomikez TikTok account. He claims credit for starting the hashtag #bodyhacks, which has helped him build an account with close to 390,000 followers, 14 million likes, and nearly 100 million views.
“It’s curiosity. When you hear ‘body hack,’ it’s like, what?” he said. “There’s different ways that you can exploit your body into doing things that you want.”
His most-watched TikTok shows viewers how to make one’s breath appear to look like smoke. He’s also created videos about foods to eat before bed to make dreams more vivid, how to fall asleep faster, and how to boost one’s memory.
DeVries went to high school in Duncan, but before that he lived in Europe and Africa.
“So I have a whole bunch of random life hacks and body hacks from different countries that I just kind of accumulated and now I’m sharing it with the world,” he said.
He started a YouTube account several years ago that didn’t gain many subscribers, but he became interested in TikTok at the start of the pandemic when he was finishing Grade 12, grad events were being cancelled, and he was bored.
“I saw a lot of people were making videos that I wanted to make, so I instantly wanted to join,” he said.
He built up a base of followers rapidly, but then he met his girlfriend and put the account aside for a couple of years before recently revitalizing it. His audience came right back, to the point that TikTok sponsorships now cover his rent.
He’s seen his videos go from 10,000 views to 100,000 views in a matter of minutes and said it’s “like a high” when a video goes viral. The filming and the editing of 15-second videos isn’t particularly time-consuming, but he said it’s a lot of work to manage the account. Keeping on top of trending topics is crucial for a TikTok creator.
“Anything that’s new and popular and is getting a lot of views, you really want to jump on that,” DeVries said. “I made a video on what to do in case of a nuclear attack from Russia. It got 10 million views within a day. So you really want to make sure you know what people are watching.”
DeVries is in his first year studying electrical trades at VIU, but would love to see where he can go with content creation, too, and is hoping to diversify his brand to YouTube and Instagram. He’s seen TikTokkers successfully expand to other platforms, but said it’s very hard to do because the content is so different.
“Expanding your business like that, you’d really have to step up your production quality and try and tailor your videos to a specific audience and that’s really hard to do,” he said. “Especially when you’ve already built one audience and know what they like, and now have to switch to another audience that you don’t know what they want at all. So it’s a pretty daunting task.”
No matter how his brand grows, DeVries is proud of being a body hacks pioneer, and his content reminds him of when he was a kid looking up YouTube videos on how to be a ninja.
“Exactly what I used to watch as a kid is what I’m doing,” he said.