How a UNC Student Gained 700k Followers On TikTok

Rachel Dean, a UNC-Chapel Hill senior and TikTok creator, entertains over 700 thousand followers – amassing over 46 million likes with point-of-view series, personal stories and popular video trends.

 Dean is a double major in Public Relations and Sports Administration and is interested in doing PR for professional sports teams. She said she has always wanted to find a way to work in sports.

 “I grew up around basketball. We used to stop my classes in middle school to put on March Madness when UNC was playing,” Dean said. “Sports built my community growing up.”

With the emphasis on sports within her community, Dean said that she wanted to keep it a part of her life.

 Online, Dean is well known on TikTok for making entertaining and comedic content. Her content displays relatable series, sometimes inspired by other videos, such as Gen Z inside the world of “The Hunger Games,” an overbearing mom or personal stories told through POVs.

 “Usually when I come up with an idea, I’ll come up with part of it, and then set my camera up and run with it from there,” Dean said. “Or if it’s really late at night, I have so many drafts on my TikTok of just like close up with my face… I’ll just go through my drafts the next morning and see what I thought of the night before.”

 Dean said that she first started using TikTok because of a friend who would share videos from the platform. She said it took her a long time to start making videos but soon gained followers from her well-known series about an unruly roommate.

 Within her roommate series, she recounted stories of an uncomfortable living situation.

 The videos cut through any heaviness of the topic –– offering comedic relief to viewers –– poking fun at the situation rather than the roommate’s alias ‘Marina’, preventing viewers from finding her on other social media.

 Through sharing her personal experiences and life with the public, such as having surgery on her nose, Dean noted that she is no stranger to internet criticism.

 “I was getting hate on that, and especially on your appearance, stuff like that can really hurt,” Dean said.

 Other criticism Dean faces online include being suspected by users of stealing content. Despite getting stressed when accusations arise, Dean continues to make content that many can relate to and find funny.

 “For the most part, it’s really fun and really exciting,” Dean said. “I feel proud because I’ve always liked making people laugh. So, I’m just proud that I get to do that.”

 Dean’s video series, which are often fictitious and comedic, steer away from serious issues to keep a playful dynamic.

 “I like to talk about things with my platform,” Dean said. “But I don’t like putting them into my series, because then it just makes it not fun anymore.”

 While a lot of the videos Dean posts are light-hearted and fun, she uses her platform to speak on issues. Dean is part of an online platform called “Gen-Z for Change,” an organization seeking to enact lasting change for a better future.

 Since first beginning to post, Dean said that TikTok has helped her grow as a person — becoming more confident.

 “I look at my old videos, and I was still having fun with it, but I’m so much more confident now,” Dean said.


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