Who is Vinny Thomas?
Vinny Thomas is a teacher and social media content creator. Posting as Mr. Thomas English, Vinny has so far garnered 1.2 million TikTok fans, 403,000 YouTube subscribers, 319,000 Instagram followers and 11,000 Facebook followers. He has a degree in English literature, media and communications. Originally from Essex in England, Vinny now lives in Phoenix, AZ.
A teacher, Vinny Thomas is originally from Essex in England before he moved to the US in 2018. He started creating and sharing video content in his teenage years but had to pause once he started working with children at summer camps in the US. This was after being advised he could not work with kids and be on social media. Vinny had to limit his video sharing to friends and members of his teaching department.
“I would send them videos just talking about everyday stuff and they would always laugh at them. When we went into the lockdown in March of 2020, my head of department was like, ‘You need to start publicly posting these’. So I started posting them and they did well. I got on local news. And now I’m a full-time content creator.”
Mr. Thomas English
Posting as Mr. Thomas English, he has accumulated 1.2 million TikTik fans over the last two years. He is active on other social media platforms and has 403,000 YouTube subscribers, 319,000 Instagram followers and 11,000 Facebook followers.
He doesn’t have a specific target audience.
“My main aim is I want people to leave my page feeling lighter and happier than when they came to it. I want people to see my videos, laugh along with me, feel joy from it, feel better about their day and have escape for the seconds they watch my videos.”
Vinny observes that if he finds a video funny, his audience is more likely to do the same.
“If I look at a video and it makes me howl with laughter, it does well. Whereas if it’s more of a filler video that I’ve not had a lot of time to do because of other commitments, it usually doesn’t perform as well. Also, when I do videos explaining things happening in my everyday life, like when my man purse was stolen a few weeks ago, it performs really well.”
His content often revolves around two main themes — American-vs-British and Disney.
The American-vs-British series was inspired by his interaction with students.
“My American students would always ask me, ‘Say this word’, ‘What does this mean in England?’, ‘Do you ever say this phrase?’ So I was like, why don’t I just do a translation series where I do the alphabet A through Z, go through each letter and say one American word and then the British equivalent.”
The first part of the series got several thousand views, he says. It was a surprise since he didn’t have a large following at the time.
“The second part I split into six videos and got 200,000 views in a couple of days. Since then, it’s something I always come back to because I’ve noticed so many people reach out to me from England and are obsessed with America or from America that are obsessed with England. And I just love seeing how they are two countries that on paper you think are really similar, but there’s so many differences.”
Vinny has always been a fan of Disney but his foray into Disney-themed content started with a reaction video to a trending meme.
“There was a meme of these Disney plates from McDonalds. And I actually had those plates. I did a reaction video to it, got the whole set and it did well on views. And then I did videos of Disney princess music money boxes and my following grew from it. I started doing costumes as well.”
He does not have any partnership with Disney though. It’s all passion for now.
A British Snacks Company
His most memorable campaign involved a British company that sends snacks to the US and other countries.
“I was midway through an order and I was like, ‘I’m going to do an unboxing for this anyway and integrate this into my content. Why don’t I just reach out, see if they’re interested in the collaboration’. I reached out to them and conveniently, they were like, ‘We’ve been looking for someone to collaborate with for years but we’ve just never found someone that fits our niche perfectly. You’re a Brit living in America. This is exactly what we want’.
He created three videos for the campaign.
“One was just an unboxing, one was trying to replicate a British Christmas dinner in America, and the other one was a British tea. All videos performed well because it was authentic. I would order this anyway with or without the partnership.”
Another successful partnership involved ClassTag, a teaching company. The initial project unlocked other deals later.
“They reached out to me when I only had about a thousand Instagram followers and offered me to do one photo holding up the ClassTag logo. And I was like, ‘I’ve never done a brand deal before. Let’s do it’. A year later, when I had grown my socials to a higher degree, they offered me a brand deal with Clorox wipes. Clorox were looking for a content creator and they were going through ClassTag because they wanted it to be a teacher affiliated with them. They later offered me another brand deal directly at a higher figure than the earlier one.”
A Multi-Platform Strategy
Vinny recommends creators have a presence on multiple platforms.
“You can have one video that does not perform well on one app, but do well on the other one. There’s pros and cons to each but I love all three. Each feeds off of the other and creates a unity.”
He usually posts his videos to TikTok first.
“It is like my first insight. My initial springboard of content I put out. I can see how the video performed and that usually determines whether or not I share it on other platforms. I feel the most comfortable filming and editing on TikTok because it’s so accessible. I then share that same thing to my Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. My best TikTok, I post to each platform.”
Still, TikTok has shortcomings when managing brand deals, Vinny says.
“TikTok is great as a starting platform with the editing, the promotion and gaining an initial following. But I’ve had some issues. Like the brand hasn’t clicked approve in time, or it’s not gone through the appropriate ad sponsor, or the company didn’t pay to promote it, or you’ve said a certain phrase that’s triggered the algorithm. It gets stalled.”
He notes Instagram has important strengths.
“I love Instagram stories and like doing behind the scenes things, giving hints and tips. I love the polling feature where I can check in with my audience and see what they want before actively creating the content. So I love using Instagram to come up with ideas to then fuel onto TikTok. Longterm, Instagram is more profitable. It is the most consistent in monetization, regular connections with my audience, tracking engagement and the revenue received from it.”
He started to significantly grow his YouTube channel at the end of 2021.
“In November 2021, I had 16,000 subscribers. I started doing YouTube Shorts and now I’m at 400,000 three or four months later. I’ll also do longer form videos. Like when I quit my full-time job, I did a 35-minute video ‘I Quit Teaching’ and it had an overwhelmingly positive response.”
Key Learning Points
He is selective about which campaigns to participate in.
“Is it a product that I even believe in? Does it fit with my ideals or mission as a creator? Are they trying to low-ball me? Most importantly, do they give me creative freedom only to renege midstream? I’m a content creator before I’m an influencer. The more brand deals and the more you position yourself as an influencer, the less the engagement with your audience. Because rather than just being a regular person sharing experiences, you are now a brand that’s promoting and earning from them buying a product.”
Vinny wishes brands understood the value of giving creators creative freedom.
“As a brand, you need to allow creative control over how creators are going to integrate it. If a follower is watching and they can tell it’s an ad in the first five seconds, they’re going to scroll on unless it’s a company they really care about.”
He mainly looks at two metrics to gauge a campaign’s success.
“If the views are around my average amount of views, I’d say that it was a successful campaign. I also check in with the company, to see how many people actually click the link.”
The rise of the cancel culture is one of the most challenging parts of being a creator or influencer now in Vinny’s view.
“Just constantly being very careful of what you do and don’t put out there. When you have a big following, with great power and great following comes great responsibility. I never want to offend anyone with my content. My social media channels are a place for people to escape from the negativity of this world.”
He hopes to collaborate with McDonalds in future.
“I did this series back in October where McDonald’s released 50 Disney Happy Meal toys. And I made it my mission to get all 50. I recorded every single video. A massive compilation and got all 50 in the end. The first video had over a million views on TikTok and the compilation on IG TV over a million views as well. My hope is one day McDonald’s will want a collaboration for when they have a Disney Happy Meal toy. Because I’m doing it anyway.”
He’s recently ventured into standup comedy.
“Bored Teachers reached out asking if I’d be interested in stand-up comedy. And I was like, ‘I’ve never done it. I’ll give it a shot’. There’s six of us. Some nights, seven. It’s an ensemble. A combination of different teacher content creators. It’s called the Bored Teachers Spring Break Comedy Tour 2022. We just returned from 10 days in Florida. It went really well. We had a few sellout shows and the audience reaction was amazing. In three weeks, we start on the Northeast leg. Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Boston. I think eight different places.”