In a span of less than six months, senior Isaiah Osborne has transformed from a high school student to a TikTok star. Since starting his account in late summer, Osborne has amassed over 1.4 million followers and 50.5 million likes by posting short video clips on his page.
A few months ago, having more than a few hundred followers was unimaginable for Osborne.
“I saw a lot of my friends doing it and thought to myself, ‘why don’t I just try it?’” Osborne said. “So I got the app in July, but I really didn’t start trying to focus on it and get a following until the end of August. At first, every time I would get 1000 views on some video I would flip out because I thought it was crazy.”
At first, Osborne posted a variety of videos from candid clips to jokes. As he continued to post multiple times a day through the end of summer, one video proved to be the catalyst for his rapid growth.
“It was something really random, like a video about wearing masks, and it was a relatable TikTok thing,” Osborne said. “The next day I think it had 2.5 million views, and that’s when everything started kicking off. Before that video, I had probably about 10 thousand followers, but with that video alone, it probably went up to 50 thousand followers.”
From that first week of September, Osborne decided that he needed to find his niche in order to continue to grow from his first video. Today, the content that Osborne posts have vastly changed from the “relatable” skits that started his account.
“I started off all over the place–I was seeing what would stick and I wanted to make people laugh with funny content,” Osborne said. “Then I saw this one guy do what I do now, and I thought it was really cool and that he gets a lot of views on all of his videos. I thought: Why not try it? The views started coming in slowly, so I kept doing it until I started to have a lot of success with it.”
A typical video of his involves an introductory clip where he points at a caption before transitioning into a short clip from YouTube. Osborne views a lot of his content as a reimagination of Twitter, where once viral clips are reposted to give them new life.
“I feel like a lot of people, when they look at my TikTok page, only see me pointing my finger at some text,” Isaiah said. “But the process behind it is actually a bit difficult and really time-consuming. I will sit in a chair on my phone for one to two hours to find videos that could work, and everyday I have to decide what ideas to go with and what to post.”
Most of the content Isaiah reposts comes from YouTube, and a process of editing and recording follows. Although he always posts about three videos per day, working with the TikTok algorithm is often a “hit or miss.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m good at making TikTok, but I know the algorithm. I’ve put a lot of time and experimenting into figuring out how the app works,” Osborne said. “When I first started transitioning into the videos I do now and away from the ‘relatable’ stuff that first got me followers, my views fluctuated a lot, as I lost some followers and gained some.”
During Osborne’s editing “sessions,” he spends most of his time researching and brainstorming ideas for video concepts. After he pre-records videos of himself for a few intros, he uses the clips he finds and edits them into his TikTok. Most days he makes four or five TikTok at a time so that he can post at least three videos a day with some extras.
Even though TikTok is now an important part of his daily schedule, Osborne is still adjusting to how different his life is now that he has a large online presence.
“When I started off in August, nobody really cared. I kept saying that I was going to get big, but nobody really thought I would,” Osborne said. “After the first viral video, I had my parents actually consider taking my account away because they thought it was not going to be the best for me to have a platform because I was too young. So I had to show them that I could balance my TikTok and the rest of my life as I kept growing.”
On December 20th, Osborne hit 1 million followers — a tremendous feat considering his account is not even half a year old.
“My family and I all watched the follower count together, and it was an awesome experience,” he said. “Honestly, I can’t even fathom in my head that I have that many people following my account. It was a little overwhelming because so many people were texting me about it, but overall it was just really exciting.”
For Osborne, he feels that this milestone actually lifts some pressure off of him.
“A few months ago, I was like ‘everyone is watching me,’ so I felt like I had to really perform to prove to them that I am good at this,” Osborne said. “Actually now that I hit 1 million I feel like I can expand into other platforms and actually calm down. I’m really excited about having this platform for my future.”