TikTok Stars Go Viral


Sandhya Ganesan

Cole Caselli (9), Vivian Landa (11), Emma Seemann (11), and Madelyn Earnest (10) pose for a TikTok. Each student has achieved thousands of followers on the new social media app. Through dancing, lip-singing, or just having fun helped these creators reach fame, and truly become TikTok famous.

As the #1 app on the market, TikTok is sweeping the nation, producing young stars that can be found on campus. Juniors, Vivian Landa (@vivianlanda) and Emma Seemann (@emmalinnea), sophomore Madelyn Earnest (@madelynearnest), and freshman Cole Caselli (@cole_caselli) have all achieved thousands of followers on TikTok resulting in them being “TikTok famous”. 

Ever since the original video-making app, Musical.ly, was made, Landa filmed videos with her friends for fun. Musical.ly and TikTok videos are normally humorous and involve music playing in the background while subjects lip sync. Musical.ly was discontinued in November 2017, until the company who bought the app combined it with a new, updated version of the app, naming it TikTok. 

Musical.ly was more focused on small music video-like clips where users would find creative ways to film and edit the videos to make themselves famous. TikTok, on the other hand, combines both the appearances of the users, and the humourous “Vine-energy” that some posts radiate (Vine was an app from 2012 with a similar purpose– funny 7 second videos that users would create). 

Landa, along with Seemann and Earnest, had Musical.ly before it was converted into TikTok, but was not as successful in accumulating followers. Landa now has up to 56.6K followers on TikTok and is continuing to grow.

There’s one viral video that I got and then it just went up from there,

— Emma Seemann

Some people may ask, How do you become TikTok famous? There is no special formula or secret to becoming popular on TikTok. It varies from account, but in Landa’s case, she posted a TikTok comparing herself to Camila Mendes (Star from the popular television show Riverdale) and to her surprise, the video went “viral” and her followers went up. 

Earnest downloaded TikTok one day with the intention to post one video with her friend about three or four months ago. “The one TikTok that got me famous was me and my friend walking to Target and the angle of it all made it seem like it was Area 51,” said Earnest. That one video was posted on the “For You” page which filters certain TikToks that are specifically geared towards the personal interest of the individual user. That video currently has 5.8 million views and 1.5 million likes.

Seemann downloaded the app in July 2019. “I stopped posting for three years, and then they changed the name to TikTok and my friends and I started posting videos for fun. There’s one viral video that I got and then it just went up from there,” Seemann said. Her account currently has 54.9K followers after she posted a TikTok of friends hitting on her brother. After her account started to grow, Seemann figured out what videos do better than others and the work she puts into her TikTok is reflected through her views.

I have to make sure if people are going to like this. I can’t just post a random dancing video,

— Vivian Landa

Being famous is often fantasized as something that everyone must achieve. According to Caselli, being TikTok famous is not always a good thing. After getting his account back in June, Caselli gained 95,000 followers in a little under three months. While his fame was growing, he was getting some hate from people at his old school. 

Having a certain level of “status” on a social media account like Instagram or TikTok, it is normal for people to be drawn to you for the wrong reasons. Caselli was being approached by a lot of “fake friends” who seemed to only hang out with him for the fame.

“I wish I wasn’t at big at the time. I wish I was new to it, and then I went to high school and got big,” said Caselli. 

Caselli ended up deleting his account towards the end of summer as he hit 80,000 followers. Caselli recently reuploaded the app but has decided to keep the account private so it can be used for fun with his friends.

Each student downloaded TikTok with the intentions of entertainment and had no idea that they would have as many followers as they do now. The sudden fame that Landa came across had an effect on the TikToks she would post.

“I used to just post them whenever but now I have to take my time and think of a good idea, I have to make sure it’s filmed good, and I have to make sure if people are going to like this. I can’t just post a random dancing video,” said Landa. Although she doesn’t mind the new pressure that comes with being TikTok famous, Landa has to keep in mind her followers and what they will enjoy instead of just posting anything she wants. 

Similar to Landa, Seemann handles her following by converting pressure into motivation and puts effort into every video she posts. Seemann’s consistent posts are continuing to get high numbers of views and her success on TikTok is reflecting on her Instagram followers as well.

Any form of fame, whether on TikTok or Instagram, will come with added pressure to keep up your account. 

“I feel like I have to post because I know people are looking for my account,” said Earnest.

TikTok has become one of the most influential social media platforms for Gen-Z and has proven that anyone can become “famous” by posting a couple of funny videos with their friends.