TikTok takeover: Maine South students find success and fame on a popular app

By Chloe Clark, Features Writer

Truckenbrod’s TikTok setup, including a ring light and her phone, allows her to produce content for her 58.4K followers. On her account, “tiktoktaylorofficial,” she connects with her following through theatre and music-related TikToks. (Photo courtesy Taylor Truckenbrod)

Within the past few years, TikTok has become a teen sensation. While TikTok is a mindless source of entertainment for many high school students, a select few at Maine South have developed a prominent public image on the platform, developing both valuable connections and opportunities along the way.

Junior Adriana Trippiedi didn’t set out with the goal of attaining thousands of followers.

“I downloaded it as a joke at first since everyone was using it,” Trippiedi said. 

However, Trippiedi’s motives changed when her videos began to take off and her following grew to 40.4k. 

Trippiedi recognizes that her videos will only take off if they reach a particular set of viewers. 

“I think it’s because a certain video might end up on others’ ‘For You’ pages that might have a similar sense of humor to mine,” Trippiedi said. “So when that happens, I tend to get more views and likes than the other videos.”  

Trippiedi sees value in her content through the positive reactions and comments left on her page.

“If someone is having a bad day and my own TikTok makes them laugh, it’s such a great feeling knowing that I turned their day around,” Trippiedi said. “Some people express this in the comment section, too.”

After an initial viral video, junior Taylor Truckenbrod experienced similar success on the app, with her following now, totaling 58.7k. 

“I went viral for my Millie Bobby Brown look-alike TikToks first,” Truckenbrod said. 

Truckenbrod came to realize that a few popular videos was all it took to expand her following.

“Now having spent some time on TikTok, I’ve noticed it only takes two or three viral videos to get a good following,” Truckenbrod said. “Once people find one thing you do interesting enough to follow you, you can post things similar to that and quickly gain followers.”

Truckenbrod expresses her passion for theatre in her videos, which tend to reach an audience with the same fascination. 

“I mainly post musical theatre TikToks,” Truckenbrod said. “I like being able to post content that I like and meet other people with the same interests as me.” 

Positive reactions from Truckenbrod’s followers affirm her confidence in her musical abilities.

“It [success on TikTok] reassured me that people like my voice and that people want to hear me sing,” Truckenbrod said.

Truckenbrod’s work on TikTok not only provides an outlet for self expression but also gives an opportunity for her to meet other creators with differing interests.

“TikTok has given me the space to post videos of what I love to do, whenever I want to,” Truckenbrod said. “I’ve also met some people along the way, like other creators who are also actors or singers, and some who do completely different things.”

Senior Bailey Chalfin has boosted her following to 908.7k with her music-related content. 

“My main content is ‘finding names of songs so you don’t have to,’” Chalfin said.

The success of Chalfin’s videos depends on the popularity of the audio and timeliness of the post.

“Some videos get more likes than others based on if I use a trending sound or depending on the time or type of content I post,” Chalfin said.

Success on Chalfin’s account has opened the door for brand deals and collaborations.

“I have received many free items…paid promotions with some companies like the Coldest Bottle, Bop Drop, and many more,” Chalfin said. “One of the coolest things is being able to meet and collaborate with many amazing people such as Chad Tepper and DeathbyRomy.”

Virtual learning presented an opportunity for Chalfin to focus on her account, but time dedicated to the app diminished when on-campus learning was reintroduced.

“During the e-learning period, I definitely spent more time on TikTok and had more time to be able to connect with people and make content,” Chalfin said. “However, I have returned to campus so it gives me less time on TikTok, which is definitely okay because I think I spent way too much time on TikTok.” 

Truckenbrod also noticed increased usage of the app while spending more time at home.

“E-learning or being at home more often has impacted my time on TikTok,” Truckenbrod said. “I spend more time watching TikToks than making them. I find myself spending more time on the app than I’d like to be.”

While a large fan base tends to offer encouragement, certain accounts flood the comment section with hateful remarks. 

“Many people on the app try to put others down, and I never really noticed that until I gained my platform and experienced it myself,” Chalfin said. “I have received hate before, one example being body shaming; I have been told to eat more because I look ‘too skinny.’”

Chalfin silences negativity by not engaging with these types of comments. 

“By ignoring hate in my comments, they will either start to give up trying to get my attention or stop completely.”

Maintaining confidence in her posts has allowed Trippiedi to avoid negativity that stemmed from the pressure of posting ‘likable’ content. 

“I was always stressed about what to post and what I thought people would, or wouldn’t enjoy,” Trippiedi said. “However, I learned to realize that I should post what makes me happy and what makes me laugh.”

Social media fame brings with it negative attention that cannot be underestimated; however, encouragement from supportive followers outweighs any destructive comments, making it all worthwhile.

“I think it’s inevitable to face some negativity with social media,” Truckenbrod said. “You just have to try your best to ignore it and not let it affect you, and for me, the positivity on my videos is far larger than the negativity.

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