TikTok has continued its ascension into the upper ranks of the most popular social media apps, and is creating its own new breed of young stars. At the forefront of this is Charli D'Amelio, who is gaining millions of new fans at an unstoppable rate.
TikTok is the spiritual successor to Vine, but with a few key differences. Mainly, the videos which go viral on the app are music-related, often dancing, rather than comedy.
So, if you're a young, talented dancer, it's your time to shine. Enter Charli D'Amelio. A 15-year-old Connecticut native who only started her TikTok career in 2019, and is now dubbed the "queen" of the platform.
Becoming a TikTok star
Charli D'Amelio's first-ever TikTok was posted on May 30, 2019, less than one year ago. Judging by the view counts on her earliest videos, Charli was immediately a hit.
And she started as she intended to go on, with short, fun clips of her dancing or lipsyncing. As any TikTok user will know, this is the bread and butter of the platform, but Charli was able to stand out from the crowd. Her consistency and dancing ability made her incredibly popular on the app. Remarkably, Charli gained 5 million followers in only the first week of having an account.
The timing couldn't have been better, either. Previously, TikTok was the ugly child of social media apps, mocked on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. But, partly thanks to rising stars like Charli herself, it soon became the place to be, and she was right at the forefront.
How did Charli D'Amelio become so popular?
TikTok expert Alessandro Bogliari says Charli "became this image of the perfect TikTok girl dancing", and that part of the reason she became so popular was that no one could understand it.
"It was trending because everyone was commenting, ‘I don’t understand the hype,’" Bogliari said. "Then they went from [watching] her videos and to then making fun of themselves saying ‘now I get it.’"
It's also about TikTok's algorithm, where posting content daily, or even multiple times a day, will ensure your channel stays relevant.
Charli's account is hitting all the right beats, and so is gaining followers faster than anyone. In 30 days between January 6 and February 5, Charli D'Amelio gained a whopping 7.3 million followers. Outside of celebrities, this is one of the fastest social media following booms on any platform ever.
She's done it with less than 1,000 videos, too. Each short clip is repeated on a loop (similar to Vine, from which TikTok is partly inspired), and so rack up millions upon millions of views. One seemingly normal, everyday video from Charli gained over 40 million views in only a week.
Charli hits the mainstream
2019 was the year she was discovered, but 2020 is the year Charli D'Amelio is set to become a household name. Now, her fame is finally leaking out into the mainstream, and not just contained on the TikTok app.
Sure, she now has 28 million followers on the app (and that number is increasing at a blistering pace every day), but her appearances in a Superbowl ad, and then the NBA All-Star game are signs that TikTok is creating the next generation of "influencers."
When D'Amelio appeared on an ad for hummus during Superbowl LIV, there were probably countless sports fans who didn't have the faintest idea who she was. But, on her current trajectory, by the time the next Superbowl comes out, she'll have more TikTok followers than PewDiePie has YouTube subscribers.
Next, Charli was on national television again at the NBA All-Star game, where she was interviewed alongside fellow TikTokkers Addison Rae and her sister Dixie. Combined, they have over 56 million followers on TikTok.
She's also receiving attention from the tabloid-like social media trackers and Instagram accounts, who are making sure to keep all her fans informed of who she's dating.
For now, TikTok may still be an innocent app where people dance to popular songs, but as it continues to grow, Charli may find herself becoming an entirely different kind of social media star.
What's next for Charli D'Amelio?
Although TikTok is currently her primary venture, D'Amelio has plans beyond the app too. After fulfilling her dream of dancing with J-Lo, she was asked what her dream job would be in the future.
As a dancer, the choice was obvious. "I obviously want to be a dancer in some way, because that's been my dream forever, dancing with J-Lo, doing something similar to what J-Lo does, maybe. There are so many opportunities that are being presented to me right now, I just want to try everything and see what works."
Charli has now signed with United Talent Agency, along with her sister and their parents. UTA represents some of YouTube's biggest stars, but have now identified TikTok as the next emerging platform.
Although she is known for TikTok, her success has also translated to Instagram, where she has a further 7.5 million followers, and almost all of her posts get over 1 million likes. Signing with an agency allows D'Amelio to better leverage her following.
Greg Godfried, co-head of UTA's digital Talent Department, told BI that "Charli is just so popular right now in mainstream culture, so making sure she's at all of the right events" is their focus for her. "There's tons of brands that she loves, so [we're] making sure she's connected to those brands and getting those opportunities."
It's clear that 2020 is destined to be a big year for Charli D'Amelio. Just how big remains to be seen, but as TikTok continues to edge its way into the mainstream of social media, this 15-year-old dancer will be front-and-center.