TikTok certainly made the most of a bad situation. The app positioned itself in the forefront of American social media with its popularity amongst high school and college students.
One college student that built a platform on the app was junior marketing major Ben Ledbetter. Ledbetter downloaded the app as a joke in January but started creating regular content in April.
“I started gaining a few followers here and there but nothing too big. Then I really decided I wanted to try to be legit about the app,” Ledbetter said. “I then started watching TikTok tips on YouTube by a guy named Robert Benjamin and I really started gaining a lot of followers.”
Now, Ledbetter has over 300,000 followers.
“It’s just still surreal to me how I have a decently sized platform,” Ledbetter said. “I never thought in a million years that when I started making videos, I would even be close to where I am now.”
While he has less time to create, Ledbetter is continuing to build his following while on campus.
“Being back at school has not really affected my ability to post videos. I still try to post around 3-5 times daily,” Ledbetter said. “Sometimes it is easy to push that out depending on my daily schedule.”
While the app is popular with creators, it is also popular with casual users. Ryan McCann, junior political science major, doesn’t create, but enjoys watching videos on the app and found it to be a good form of entertainment in his down time.
“I think the app has been developed very well and the algorithm they use for finding content allows users to watch videos with a wide variety of content,” McCann said.
However, the Trump Administration has considered banning the app in the U.S., as its host company ByteDance is based in China, and concerns have been raised regarding personal security.
While Ledbetter doesn’t think the app will be banned, he has a contingency plan to continue creating content elsewhere if it is.
“At the moment, my emotions are mixed. In all honesty, I think Microsoft or another company will eventually come along and buy the app,” Ledbetter said. “However, if it does get banned I will probably move my content to Triller as well as YouTube.”
McCann is more skeptical of a ban coming to fruition.
“I don’t think the ban holds much weight as it will most likely get stuck up in a legal dispute until a new company comes in and buys the app,” McCann said. “I don’t think TikTokers should be worried about a potential ban.”
While it took time and dedication for Ledbetter to build his following, he still found joy in creating content.
“It was definitely making the best of a bad situation. Being cooped up in my house was very hard at times,” Ledbetter said. “So when I started doing TikTok frequently it definitely helped me get through the pandemic.”