Paul Reilly: Getting into gear with the UK's top TikTok influencers... and holding on for dear life

When eight of the UK and Ireland's top social media influencers ask you if you'd like to join them in a go-karting race, what do you say?

Well not wanting to seem terribly 'uncool', I squeezed into a boiler suit, pulled on a helmet and held on for dear life.

The charismatic group includes local TikTok magician Joel M.

He's 24 and has around 19million followers on social media. Joel is excited by the opportunity to spend this week with other influencers in a 'Big Brother' style house, exploring parts of Northern Ireland. 

"For me it's getting up in the morning, brainstorming ideas, filming, editing, posting and then utilising that to help people have fun."

Joel says making people laugh and smile is the big aim of sharing content.

Magician Joel M. Credit: Janet McKay PR

But it can be a very lucrative business model. Francesca Morelli runs VAVA Influence, along with Chloe Henning.

They help link-up social media talent with commercial opportunities.

"We've some content creators here using this as their full time income because they are creating really great educational, inspirational or entertaining content that really people are engaging with.

"Businesses are really wanting to jump on that to take advantage of the very engaged audiences that these TikTok creators have, so it really makes sense for their business to be put in front of these audiences and be promoted in this way," says Francesca. 

I certainly gave it some welly around the race track and while I was lapped (several times and came dead last), I genuinely enjoyed my time with this friendly, energetic group of young people. 

Their adventures continue this week, including visits to the North Coast and paddle boarding in County Down, which I'm happy to sit out.

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