TikTok. Love it or hate it, you’ve probably heard of it. Recently, the app has exploded into popularity, particularly among teenagers. TikTok has more than 500 million monthly active users, with a majority of them being young, as are its content creators, or “TikTokers.”
Unbeknownst to many, the individual with the most followers at KO is not a student, but rather a staff member. Middle School receptionist Brittany Dix has nearly eight hundred thousand followers on TikTok. Ms. Dix’s posts consist of her one-year-old daughter, Lily, doing things like dancing, trying on outfits, or just being cute. “I think TikTok just really loves babies, and I think that’s why it’s doing so well, and the fact that Lily is just smiling non-stop, all day, every day,” Ms. Dix said. “She’s just happy all the time, so I get good footage no matter what.”
Ms. Dix downloaded the app over the summer when she heard many of the Camp KO campers talking about it. She found it very entertaining, and after a while, she tried filming a video with Lily that garnered more than thirteen thousand likes.
After a couple of videos, her sixth quickly accumulated more than a million views. “This video had completely blown up, so I decided to keep making TikToks with Lily,” she said.
Ms. Dix’s most popular video has more than 50 million views and almost four million likes. One of the cool things she mentioned about it was that Mariah Carey ‘favorited’ Lily’s video. The video features Ms. Dix hiding behind a wall and holding Lily, having her dance along with a song.
“That video, it was insane, and I gained three hundred thousand followers from that,” Ms. Dix said.
Ms. Dix’s TikTok account also opened the door to many opportunities that she wouldn’t have had without it. “I’m going to be opening a college savings account for Lily very soon,” she said, “and that’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do, at this point in her life, without TikTok.”
Ms. Dix’s following is so large that she is able to make money from her TikTok videos, usually from brand sponsorships and deals.
“I just got signed by Walmart and Procter and Gamble for their diapers,” she said. Ms. Dix will be paid per video she makes, and will receive free diapers. Ms. Dix also opened a PO Box so Lily’s fans could send her gifts, like stuffed animals.
“People send so many things; it’s so sweet,” she said, mentioning that she goes to the post office almost daily in order to pick up the gifts that they receive. “Somebody just crocheted a shawl and sent it to us and somebody sent a stuffed Spiderman,” Ms. Dix said, explaining that in a previous TikTok video, she showed Lily falling in love with a plush Spiderman at a store, so somebody got her one. “It’s definitely changed our lives,” she said.
Junior Evan Banning and sophomore Lexi Vail are the KO students with the highest following and have similar stories of acquiring such popularity. Both downloaded the app and began making videos. “After a while of just watching videos, you want to try making one,” Evan said.
Evan began making mostly funny videos on the app and found success relatively early, as just his fifth video became viral. It now has about two million views and almost 300,000 likes.
In the video, he pretends to be seven feet tall and ducks under a bunch of things like a ceiling fan or a doorframe.
“A lot of people thought I was being serious and called me a liar,” he said. “And I have no idea why that video specifically blew up; it wasn’t my funniest video or anything.”
His other viral TikTok depicts him and many of his friends playing the game “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” where people are able to pick a person up with just their fingers by evenly dividing the weight. The TikTok currently has 3.2 million views and almost 600,000 likes.
Evan currently posts less frequently than he did in the summer, due to how busy he is at school and at home.
“When you’re in the middle of your junior year, obviously your number one priority is school, not making TikToks, so it’s hard to find the time,” he said.
Similar to Evan, Lexi said she enjoyed watching TikToks and decided to start making them. Her first TikToks were mostly softball related. “In the spring, softball and baseball TikToks take up a lot of the For You page, and in the fall, it’s football and soccer TikToks,” she said. The For You page is the constant stream of videos that TikTok thinks you’ll like, similar to Instagram’s Explore page.
Lexi’s viral moment came right after last school year finished in June, when she made a TikTok demonstrating how to make edible cookie dough. In the video, she gives viewers the recipe as she makes it, and it currently has 5.2 million views and 800,000 likes. “I made that video and went to go watch a movie, and people were texting me, saying ‘Lexi, I saw you on the For You Page, so it was kind of funny,” she said.
Lexi started making videos more frequently over the summer, and had one series of videos where she talked about making a friend on the beach. “For that, I gained about 5,000 followers,” she said. Lexi stopped uploading as frequently as school got underway, but still makes videos occasionally.
While Evan, Lexi, and Ms. Dix all started making videos just for fun, for Ms. Dix, it has become much more of an obligation, with her various sponsorships and brand deals. “Even though I post daily, I only spend about 15 minutes filming,” she said. “For the rest of the day, I just get to be a mom and take care of my baby.”