Students find unexpected success as TikTok influencers

Three ASU students joined TikTok looking for fun and found it, along with sponsorships and thousands of followers

TikTok is home to 100 million users in the U.S. alone. Since its rise in popularity, it has become the mission of many users to go viral and become TikTok famous, ASU students included.

With viral video content comes a large following, potential brand partnerships and a unique source of income. Some ASU students have channeled their creativity into the app and have been successful, earning thousands of followers.

Ally Dowse, a senior studying psychology, has achieved internet fame with her TikTok, @thebollmanbunch, where she posts videos of herself dancing and answering questions about her life as a student with her 1-year-old son, Greyson. Her account has nearly 163,000 followers and 6.6 million likes.

“During quarantine, I decided to make a YouTube channel, and I made a TikTok to help promote our YouTube,” Dowse said. “Our TikTok took off in a way I never would have expected.”

For Dowse, the virtual stardom was unexpected. She said her goal in creating her accounts was to inspire and help other young parents navigate their journeys.  

“All the love and support we get has been amazing,” Dowse said. “I’ve met so many people who have gone through similar experiences that I have.”

Another creator on the platform is Krystal Lockhart, a junior studying family and human development. Lockhart has nearly 40,000 followers and over 925,000 likes on her TikTok @krystallockhart.

“TikTok is the easiest platform to gain followers on,” Lockhart said. “Going viral is pretty random and easy, so I grew my following doing fashion and styling videos.”


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Lockhart said she has been working with fashion brands via Instagram since her junior year of high school and enjoys the process of shooting photos and video to create content. 

Lockhart said she didn't realize she had become an influencer until she reached 10,000 Instagram followers and most of her content was branded.

“Usually brands will reach out to me and I sign a contract with them,” Lockhart said. “There are normally captions and hashtags I have to use to post.”

Another facet of TikTok is “fitness TikTok,” which senior dietetics major Kylie Churnetski is no stranger to. Churnetski started her own fitness coaching business in 2018, and her following on Instagram and TikTok has grown to over 6,000 and 17,000 followers respectively. 

“I totally wasn’t expecting it to happen when I started on TikTok,” Churnetski said. “I downloaded it when it started to become popular and randomly got 6,000 followers off of one video.”

Churnetski uses both platforms to gain clients for fitness coaching and promote physical and mental wellness; she receives a good chunk of her business that way.

“The most important thing to me is whether or not I get along with the clients,” Churnetski said. “Social media is a method of reaching out, but after that, I’ll meet with people to talk about their goals and see if we’re a match.”

Churnetski said she is now also an official partner of TikTok on her account @coachkylie.

“Working with TikTok has been insanely fun,” Churnetski said. “We have meetings every week and sometimes I’ll post the gifts they send me, and it’s just a cool experience to help get connected with everyone.”

Both Lockhart and Dowse said they have been recognized from social media while out in public, and it always shocks them.

“Both times it’s happened, people just messaged us afterward and told us they saw us,” Dowse said. “That being said, if you see us in public, please say hi.”

However glamorous, social media fame isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Dowse said she occasionally gets hate comments. While it doesn't feel good, finding ways to cope is the most important thing in handling those words.

“I don’t let it get to me anymore,” Dowse said. “I get one negative comment in a sea of 100 positive ones. I just don’t understand why people think it’s OK to say negative things online.”

The most common factor among the student TikTok creators is that they all love making positive content that helps and inspires their audience.

“My goal is just to inspire one person a day,” Churnetski said. “If I can do that, I’ll be happy.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @thesabrinakeno on Twitter.

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