Alumnus and Magician Arshdeep Soni (BSc Computer Science 2018) has taken TikTok by storm. A member of London’s prestigious Magic Circle, he seemingly makes the impossible possible and boasts over 8 million followers on the platform.
Arshdeep’s love of magic began after seeing a trick at a party in 2011 and his mind was instantly blown. “It was one of those moments, where I couldn’t explain what I had just seen,” he recalls. “Of course my friend wouldn’t tell me how he did it either, so I decided I had to learn something for myself.” After amazing his parents with a very basic trick he learnt the following day, he wanted to learn another and, just like that, the journey started.
He soon built up a catalogue of tricks and started carrying around a deck of cards with him everywhere he went. Over time he perfected the art as much as possible and performed even more, including close-up shows for corporate and private events, building a network of clients.
Just before starting at Royal Holloway, Arshdeep realised that he could use social media to reach a whole new audience, by creating videos online and interacting with people, and so he started posting consistently on his social channels in 2014.
“I love the process of planning a concept, filming the idea and getting into post production with the editing,” he says. “Shortly after uploading my first couple videos on Facebook and YouTube, I had one of them sky rocket after it had been shared by the LadBible page. The video reached over 1 million views in a matter of days and the response was incredible. After that I knew I wanted to continue this journey.”
Arshdeep had more time to focus on his social media presence after graduating and started posting more consistently to Instagram because of the shorter form content. He was also able to connect and collaborate with others. TikTok was launched a short while after (as Musical.ly, prior to their merger) which Arshdeep joined and added content to almost immediately.
“I started noticing success on TikTok very early on as their user base was a lot smaller at the time,” he explains. “I kept posting here as I had a huge catalogue of content from other platforms. Within a year, I went from 0 to 7.5 million followers and a few months later I’m now at 8 million. The formula to going viral on TikTok and other platforms is to create entertaining and sharable content. It’s also important to collaborate with others to build your audience base and this is what then makes the algorithm work in your favour. Consistency and sticking to a posting schedule is vital to survive on any platform.”
Alongside the time and effort involved in keeping his social presence and magic career alive, Arshdeep is also working full time as a Software Engineer at Discovery Inc, and the two paths are not as far removed as you might think. “Software Engineering is all about problem solving and working through challenges which is something I’ve always been good at,” he explains. “It sometimes requires thinking outside of the box to solve certain problems and needs a level of creativity.
“With the magic side of things, it’s very similar – it is all about thinking outside the box to create the perfect trick or illusion. It’s a very creative art and I always found that both Software Engineering and magic pretty much go hand-in-hand.”
Arshdeep’s rising popularity on TikTok in such a short amount of time has led to opportunities to collaborate with some of the world’s leading brands including Burger King, Papa Johns, Juice Burst, Mini Cheddars, Fashion Nova, NHS, Bang Energy and many more. His greatest achievement to date, however? “It would definitely be being featured by TikTok on large scale Billboards in London’s most iconic locations, Piccadilly Circus, IMAX Waterloo, Shepherd’s Bush Westfield, High Street Kensington, Canary Wharf and a few more.”
This was part of a campaign which ran in September 2020 called ‘It Starts on TikTok’. The platform chose five top creators to be part of this campaign and one of them was Arshdeep. “It was madness!” he says. “Never did I imagine, posting a few videos online for fun would lead to the start of a magical journey, let alone something as incredible as this.”
Discover more about Arshdeep at arshdeepsoni.com.