Mia Dwyer-Kim, freshman at Wilkinson College, never figured that filming herself doing short dance routines would amount to hundreds of thousands of followers on Tik Tok. And she’s not the only Chapman individual who has found unwavering social success on the app.
“I didn’t think doing these little dances as a way of having something to do would turn into something bigger…I met two of my best friends through Tik Tok. I’ve even been contacted by some famous YouTube channels,” Dwyer-Kim said.
Whipped coffee, Tiger King, and Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice. These words induce flashbacks for Tik Tok enjoyers in 2020. It’s the only app that offers a stream of one-minute videos straight to your For You Page.
Sarah Shattuck, a health sciences major starting her first semester of her masters degree, makes Tik Toks on a variety of subjects.
“I had a couple viral videos about skiing trips with friends, old work stories that almost caught me in a lawsuit, some Harry Potter inspired tik toks, and some in which I debunk nutrition-related videos from others where I use my educational background to stop misinformation,” Shattuck said.
The virality of Tik Tok sets it apart from other apps like Instagram. Practically any account or video can go viral, even if it’s not for positive reasons.
“Tik Tok can be a toxic environment…It’s a bunch of strangers on the internet and lots of accounts are anonymous,” Shattuck said. “I actually had an entire hate page created for me that contacted Chapman and wanted to contact my family. This was all because I displayed my political views about voting for Biden. I’ve received negative comments as well but since I’m just there for fun, it doesn’t really bug me.”
The pros of Tik Tok are instantaneous engagement, and the cons are vicious pushback from anonymous accounts. Nevertheless, utilizing social media as a means for self-promotion and networking has become critical in the digital age.
Kathryn Thimbault, Public Relations and Advertising professor, has only been teaching at Chapman University for two years, but has spent most of her life in the advertisement industry. Her primary background is research and strategy; she is the person figuring out the consumers.
“I’m sad to say I’m part of the 7% of somebody over fifty who’s on Tik Tok. I’m well over my allotted hour per day on the app,” Thimbault said with a laugh. “I like to bring to brands how they can figure out their consumer base, and how consumers use their products,” Thimbault said.
The ever-present question that many pose is why Tik Tok exploded in the way that it has.
“If you look at other social media platforms like Instagram, people have easily figured out how to monetize on there. That’s how the creators set it up. With Tik Tok, it’s not set up to monetize easily,” Thimbault said.
If you’re looking for ways to start making money on the app, here are some ways to do that.
“There are a couple different ways people are monetizing on Tik Tok. Number one, they’re sending people to their own Instagram or YouTube account. That drives traffic. On Tik Tok you’re either promoting a brand, getting sponsored, or selling a product you make yourself,” Thimbault said.
“I bought this item someone was selling on Tik Tok and she turned out to be a thirteen year old selling these little tea globes. I would have never naturally come across that. That’s why I think Tik Tok is heading in the direction of monetization.”
Even if you’re not someone spindling a spider web of social networking for self promotion, the app also makes for an incredible community tool.
Lauren Czasnojc, the online media director for Chapman’s Kappa Alpha Theta chapter, breaks down how Tik Tok has benefitted her sorority.
“The fact that someone can go viral overnight on Tik Tok is crazy,” Czasnojc said. “A lot of other sororities have jumped on the app to engage more potential new members. It also allows us to be more creative with our content.”
There is still some resistance amongst sororities and fraternities shifting from Instagram to Tik Tok. The “reels” feature on Instagram is easy to use, especially for Greek life members who have been using Instagram heavily for the past eleven years.
“I actually don’t use Tik Tok for personal use,” Czasnojc said. “I use it as a tool for school and work-related items. I run the Theta account in my internship account, I just can’t download it for myself. It’s too much.”
Joshua Hinson, Chapman University’s Public Safety Officer, loves using Tik Tok to spread positivity to the Chapman community.
“This all started accidentally,” Hinson said. “My first go-to was Instagram, but I needed something more attention grabbing. Someone mentioned ‘Have you seen Tik Tok?’ and I was like ‘No!’ The first video that blew up of mine was me and another officer dancing. We were like ‘we can do way more than just open Instagram videos with this,’” Hinson said.
Hinson’s mantra is promoting safety and zeal to the Chapman campus. A public safety officer who uses social media for togetherness is vital. If students ever need help, they won’t hesitate to read out to Hinson’s friendly face.
“It’s a great way to connect with students. Sometimes when I’m locking up for the night, I see the frats and sororities practicing for air bands, and they’d be like ‘Hey wanna make a video!?’ It’s a great way to get to know the students. And also to humanize the badge a bit, to make public safety approachable,” Hinson said.
Tik Tok is a vast sea of versatile content, and indeed has more to offer as far as opportunities. Chapman students have found wild success and an abundance of possibilities on the app.
Dwyer-Kim’s sunny disposition radiates through her tik toks. Her dance videos are packed with power and enthusiasm, each move more pronounced than the last.
“A lot of companies have sent me items to promote in videos. Boutiques like Kiss the Rainbow, Boutine LA, and also protein and fitness companies,” Dwyer-Kim said. “It’s so cool, it’s my favorite part. It’s kind of turned into a side hustle.”
The power of networking behind Tik Tok’s algorithm is unmatched. Anyone’s videos can be seen by famous internet personalities or celebrities. “A popular Youtuber that I loved named Collins Key found me on Tik Tok and reached out to me to collaborate. I used to be a big fan, so it was surreal to have him contact me,” said Dwyer-Kim.