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Nothing but hate (for the Kia Soul)
Interviewing the creator of @kiasoul_hateclan on how negative car memes can actually bring us closer together
On one hand, this is a story about a girl who runs social media accounts that do nothing but hate on the Kia Soul.
On the other hand, more than fifty copycat accounts have since popped up, and she’s grown her following to more than 100,000 in less than six months.
Once I scrolled through her Kia Soul memes, read the comments, and saw the genuine camaraderie surrounding the theme of a “hate clan”—believe me, I had plenty of questions.
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Continuing my quest to highlight interesting creators in the automotive community, here’s my interview with the one-of-a-kind @kiasoul_hateclan.
Michael: Yeah, so thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I've been wanting for a long time to do profiles of popular car-related social media accounts. And, uh, it just so happened that my sister forwarded me something the other day from your [Kia Soul] hate clan and I was like, “Shit, this is hilarious. This is…this is amazing.”
So I was really glad that we could connect. Tell me a little about @kiasoul_hateclan…
@kiasoul_hateclan: Yeah. I started my account back in January and actually, on April 20th, I only had 4,000 followers.
So my account completely just like blew up in the span of two weeks.
Yeah, that’s great though! So my first question, I guess is just simply: what's a hate clan? [laughs]
[laughs] So, um, it was actually a joke. I do go to school, but I would always post [on social media] about Kia Souls and I'm like, “yeah, guys, it's a hate clan”. I just would always make jokes about the car—and for the longest time, even before I started going to school, even back in middle school, I always talked about how I did not like Kia Souls.
Since the commercials, it was just always something that I made fun of. And, you know, it became a joke [with friends] saying, “Make an Instagram, make an Instagram.” And I was like, that's…that's not what I'm gonna do. And then I just kind of [tried] it and was like, oh, like this isn't gonna go anywhere.
I originally started it strictly because I thought it was funny, you know, I didn't think it was obviously gonna blow up and turn into this giant army of like 90,000 people who don't like these asshole cars. I had no idea. And then on top of that, @nissanjuke_hateclan is the first account that made another hate clan. After that, there was PT Cruiser and then after that, like it just completely blew up. Now there’s, I think, over 50 of them.
Oh wow! Are, you tracking all the new ones that pop up?
A lot of them DM me and um, so that's kind of how I'll find them. They'll send me DMs, and they'll have in their bio, “inspired by @kiasoul_hateclan”
Well, it's one of those things that, that you definitely tapped into. Um, I, for one also hated all of the commercials and thought they were terrible and wanted to throw a shoe through the screen every single time I saw one [laughs].
But you legitimately run an Instagram account with almost a hundred thousand followers…where all of the posts are about the Kia Soul, a car you don’t like.
Yeah, I just, I don't like them. I've never liked them.
I understand. But you see how there might be a little bit of irony in that?
Yeah, because, um, I don't know, everybody I've talked to up to this point before I started this account did not like Kia Souls. I've had people DM me who drive a Kia Soul and they're like, I literally hate my car. [laughs].
I don't take my account that seriously at all. And I feel like a lot of people when they try to take it way too seriously and put so much pressure to make the account grow, that's when it doesn't happen. I don't know. I feel like a lot of times they say, “What you put in is what you get out.” But sometimes that really doesn't happen.
So how do all these people find you specifically? That's, that's kind of what I'm getting at.
I think it's all through my reels, because my reels will get viewed. And I had a couple reels, there was one where, um, I believe it was a Toyota and this guy was standing in the way because it was a road rage video, and this girl kept backing up into him and then there was a Kia Soul in the background and I was like: “oh yeah, Kia Souls are bad luck.”
Then all of a sudden I am getting a bunch of DMs [from people] about how Kia Souls ruined their day—“I failed my exam because this was outside”; a Kia Soul. And I just kind of ran with what people respond to the most because it’s easier to make content when you know, when other people are enjoying it.
Before I actually blew up, I would have to dig on the internet to find my videos.
What was that like? Digging for Kia Soul content?
It was actually really difficult. I would have to look up very oddly specific things. Like I would go on Reddit, I would go on YouTube, I would go on Instagram and TikTok and look at like, “burning Kia Soul” or “Kia Soul Car accident” or “Kia Soul dash cam”. I always was looking for something until I blew up. Obviously, now I don't have to look for content.
And now, the new big trend is with everybody is that they're like asking their AI about Kia Souls. I've gotten a few hundred DM just all about how their AI likes Kia Souls or they'll Photoshop a meme of an AI saying how it drives a Kia Soul and all this stuff. It just became something totally new.
Oh, that's fantastic. So now that the notoriety is building and people are starting to participate and actively send things your way…how are there so many things about the Kia Soul out there?!
It's crazy because there's things that I never thought that I'd find on the internet, like people will send me stuff from Reddit that I was never was able to find. People will send me the craziest stuff.
How much time would you say you spend searching [for content]?
I would spend at least an hour every day looking for stuff. Then finding a way to download it. Looking at different websites where I could put the link in and download it without the video being compromised or it looking weird. And it took me a lot of time, initially it was really hard.
Then once I hit about 4k [followers], right before I blew up, people were like, “oh, you should make merch.” I only had 4K followers, and I did have a lot of backlash where people were like making fun of me saying that because I only had 4K followers, “why are you doing merch?” and all this stuff. I had people request it. And now everything I make from the merch is going towards a GoFundMe for me to purchase a Kia Soul because I wanna be able to start a YouTube channel and make content with it.
[laughs] But you don't like the Kia Soul, so why would you get one?
It's all for the irony of it.
For your schooling then, are you in marketing or something related with social media?
I was originally a chemistry major. I wanted to go into the medical field so bad, but the classes were so hard. Now I'm a business major, but obviously this is definitely what I'm more successful at. My parents were even saying, “You should be getting extra credit, like extra credits for the amount of time you're putting into this account” because I've sold hundreds of dollars’ worth of merch, all through Instagram.
And I've tried branching out to different social medias like on Twitter, but Twitter is not as easy in my opinion to like really blow up on. And I did have TikTok for the longest time. I had one TikTok that hit 50k, then got permanently banned. Then I made a second TikTok, and that one also got permanently banned. So I just kind of gave up. It was like, you know what, I'm just gonna focus on my Instagram. And then that's when it blew up, once I stopped doing TikTok.
So do you follow car accounts in general? Are you into cars at all?
I originally wasn't into cars before I started this account. And I've just noticed as I've kind of forced myself into this community where there is a lot of car people, I have started to like cars, and want to learn about cars. I've also had people talk about doing a “Cars & Coffee”-style event once my account gets bigger, finding a location and letting people know about it.
I can turn my account into something where, you know, sometimes it's not always about Kia, I'm always about Kia Souls, you know, it's my main focus. The people who follow my account, like a lot of them are into cars so yeah—it's either like 15 year olds or it's car people. [laughs]
Now that you've had a chance to see more car accounts and as you're getting embraced by the community, what are car people and car enthusiasts doing well on social and what are they doing badly? Because, you know, not every account is growing at at such a wild rate.
The thing is, I don't take my account that seriously at all. And I feel like a lot of people when they try to take it way too seriously and put so much pressure to make the account grow, that's when it doesn't happen. I don't know. I feel like a lot of times they say, “What you put in is what you get out.” But sometimes that really doesn't happen.
Sometimes, maybe just find one video on the internet instead of making a cool car edit. Make it kind of funny. You know, a lot of people are more attracted to humor rather than, you know, racing cars and car stuff.
I even think those videos are cool, but a lot of times those don't blow up because there's so many of them on the internet. There has to be that factor where it's like, this hasn't been seen before. That'll really get people, that'll really get them into the algorithm because if not, it just kind of gets washed away with all the other content that is being posted on Instagram.
You bring up a good point. Because, you know, it's really not the car people that you're going after with any of this. In my case it's a perfect example—I found out about you through my sister who has a Kia Soul and isn’t into cars at all. The algorithm showed it to her, she sent it over saying basically, “This is hilarious.” Then I sent it to a few of my friends.
Before you were getting these views, what was that like?
Right before I blew up, when my TikTok got kept getting banned over and over, like I was seriously upset about it. The second my account starts growing, it gets banned. And I feel a lot of people will lose the motivation to keep making videos when they don't see any progress. But eventually the, you know, the growth will come if you just keep doing what you're doing.
Is that easier to say now? Or was there anything in particular to spur you on, to keep going? Talk me through that.
I would just have days where I really don't wanna post. And I'd have people DM me and, because at this point, like when I had 4,000 [followers], people were slowly starting to send me content. It was hard keeping the motivation up. I feel like another thing that kept my motivation up was that I was making merch and people were purchasing the merch and I'm like, okay, the five people who bought my shirt really like it, you know?
And it kind of kept me going that people are really genuinely enjoying my account that much to where they'd wear a burning Kia Soul on them. I'm like, okay, I can't just stop doing this account because I have all these people who are super invested and, you know, I can't just back out and not post anymore. I feel like I need to keep going.
Do you design the merch?
I do. On some I combine images and edit to make it my own design, and the little logos on the front. I use Canva. I did one design where it was me, in a bikini in front of a Kia Soul. I really thought it was funny. It was kind of an ironic thing because it was really stupid. I went out one day thinking, you know what, I'm gonna see if I could find a Kia Soul and take photos in front of it for merch.
I've had a lot of people say to me that this is horrible. And I'm like, you know what? That's honestly kind of the point. Like I don't want the merch to be totally professional. It's supposed to be funny.
It's a Kia Soul hate account. It’s meant to be funny and ironic. I sell the shirts that say, “I hate Kia Souls”. They're not supposed to be good.
There's surely a social media manager on the other side of this who's been seeing “Kia Soul” mentioned more and more over the last few months, they've gotta be aware of your account by now. You're tagging and everything else, but I'm sure they're just like, “Oh God. [laughs] What are we gonna do?”
On your side, you had mentioned your parents, I guess they're, they're very much in on the joke? Do they help you with strategy or give their opinions on this project?
Yeah. My dad is a professional photographer, so he's very intellectual and he'll always tell me that I should have always been in business. I wanted to go to the medical field so bad…and like my entire family now will send me like Kia Soul videos. They'll find them and they'll send them to me. So they've been very supportive of it even though initially obviously I wasn't getting many views.
Now, do you have any future plans for this? Like, is it gonna be you and your dad doing a street photography calendar of Kia Souls?
I don’t know. When I started this account, I wasn't intending to do anything with it. Like, I'm gonna make funny videos and post them. So my intention now is just to keep letting my account grow. I just wanna turn it into something more where it's a big community. It's like, yes, I know we hate Kia Souls, but if you wanted to show up in your Kia Soul, you might get people laugh at you—but, you know, that's the whole thing.
I've had people make a Planet Fitness hate clan, not even about cars—Planet Fitness. And I'm like, where do people get these ideas? I understand the Nissan Juke, and Priuses and Nissan Altimas, whatever. But Planet Fitness, people are turning this into something that isn't even about cars anymore. Things that people don't like, they're just turning it into a [hate clan] account.
And for you, they've made tons of Kia Souls at this point, so there's no reason for the joke to end. There's no reason to not do events and, and more merch and things like that. And, you know, to turn into something that I think rightfully you're really proud of.
It's great that this is out there because…yeah…I think if Kia started an account just for the Soul, they wouldn't have been able to grow it this quickly.
Yeah, no. [laughs]
Thanks again to @kiasoul_hateclan for connecting over Zoom and chatting about this growing phenomenon.
(And you can all thank my sister for sending me a Kia Soul meme in the first place.)
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