Movies

How a teenager got 7 million TikTok followers in 3 months by promoting body positivity

  • Sienna Mae Gomez has over 7 million followers on TikTok, and her online fame started in August when a video of her dancing in her kitchen was widely shared. 
  • That video, which now has over 18 million views, as well as other body-positive dance videos she posted, helped her create a following on TikTok, Instagram (870,000 followers), and YouTube (140,000 subscribers). 
  • Gomez described her plan to turn her love of dance and entertaining into a long-term career.
  • Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter: Insider Influencers.

In three months, Sienna Mae Gomez has gone from being an average 16-year-old to becoming an internet star with over 7 million followers on TikTok. 

"I get recognized, I think, probably every time I go out now, which is literally just crazy," Gomez told Business Insider. "When I'm meeting people and networking with people who I've looked up to for so long, I'm honestly just trying not to fangirl over them."

Gomez, who lives in California with her parents, started posting content on TikTok in July 2019 for fun.

But in August, her social-media career began to take off when she created a second TikTok account (@spicylatina) for her close friends, and she jokingly posted a video of her dancing in her kitchen with her stomach out. That video and several others making fun of unrealistic beauty standards trended and gained attention from celebrities like Lizzo, who copied the dance and captioned it, "Body positivity has entered the chat!" 

Following that popular video, which now has over 18 million views, Gomez would post about four videos every day and interact with users in the comments.

“i just ate” -olivia ponton❤️

She said she believed this strategy was what helped her keep up the momentum on TikTok and led to her growing a large following on both Instagram (870,000 followers) and YouTube (140,000 subscribers). Those numbers consistently increase every week, and in October, her Instagram page gained an average of 17,000 new followers every day, according to the data-tracking site Social Blade.

Gomez is still new to internet fame, but she said she already had a long-term plan and hoped she could turn her love for dance and entertaining others into a career beyond TikTok.

"I'm thinking more long term into the future and how I can use my platform for good," Gomez said. "I also want to show that influencers can be substantive, smart people who care about issues that matter." 

How she's keeping up the momentum

Gomez has been dancing competitively for five years, and her dance skills have helped her keep up with many of TikTok's "dance challenges." She also posts videos of her hanging out with other TikTok creators like Jack Wright (5.7 million followers) and other members of the Hype House. 

Gomez, who is being home-schooled, said her family quickly jumped on board and helped her communicate with talent agents, keep up with emails, and look at brand deals.

"This world is absolutely new to us," her mom, Dina Gomez, told Business Insider. "We are successful regardless of her success. I do it because I want to make sure she's protected and she has the best guidance." 

When she was just starting to get big, and brands began reaching out, her mom, who works in communications, took the family through a branding exercise. 

"We were asking ourselves, 'Does that make sense with what she is trying to put out into the world?' And it took us as a family going through an hourlong branding exercise to be like, 'Yeah, that makes sense,' or, 'No, that definitely doesn't make sense,' like a slimming tea, which, I mean, obviously is not her brand," Dina Gomez said.

Her plans beyond TikTok

Right now, Sienna Mae Gomez is focused on finishing high school by 2022 and attending a college in Los Angeles, either the University of Southern California or the University of California, Los Angeles, because those are the colleges her parents went to.

"And looking into possibly acting, expanding my career, and I am launching my own line of merch," she said. "When things go back to normal, I'd really love to lead a dance tour and go around the US or the world, teaching dance classes to my fans." 

Long term, she said she was interested in designing a size-inclusive clothing line and collaborating with her idols Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Jessica Alba.

To help make those goals a reality, she signed with the talent and literary agency ICM Partners in October. She was contacted by most of the major talent agencies but ultimately choose ICM Partners because she felt the agency's vision aligned best with hers, she said. 

Similar to other famous TikTok creators like Charli and Dixie D'Amelio or Addison Rae Easterling, Gomez said her family has supported her rise to fame, especially her mom, who helps manage her business.

"I couldn't do this without her and all these calls, meetings, interviews, and photoshoots. I would never be able to set them up just because I don't know how," Gomez said of her mom. "I'm so grateful that she's teaching me and helping me because it is stressful to try and constantly create content, as well as try to keep a healthy schedule with my mental health and school."

Read more about TikTok, according to top creators on Business Insider: 

  • Addison Rae is the world's top-earning TikTok star, according to Forbes. She shared the inside story of her rise to fame.
  • The top 19 talent managers and agents for TikTok influencers who are helping build the careers of a new generation of digital stars
  • Inside TikTok's exclusive creator ambassador program, where 12 influencers get paid trips, brand connections, and access to new features

Exclusive FREE Report: The Stories Slide Deck by Business Insider Intelligence

Source: Read Full Article