I went from 0 to 221k followers on TikTok in 7 months — some thoughts.
Before we tuck into this, I want to be clear. This is not a “how-to,” per se. It is me providing context and my thoughts on why an account featuring a middle-aged dude making olden time-y sandwiches from old cookbooks has blown up as quickly as it has. There might be stuff you can learn but I promise nothing, sorry. And yes, 220,000 is not a million but it ain’t nothing.
First, some background
I’ve been reviewing potato chips on In The Chips with Barry on Instagram (and to a lesser extent YouTube and Facebook) for a few years now. I tested my way into a format that, at the time, was unique. My wall was nothing but quick-edit 60-second reviews of potato chips and has garnered around 7,100 followers.
One day my friend Adam Leidhecker sent me a PDF of an old cookbook from 1909 called “The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book” of 1909. He thought it might be fun fodder for an account. So I tried it on Instagram with Sandwiches of History, posting pics of the sandwiches to my wall and “making of” videos to Stories. Yet, despite my friend Vincent Orleck, who knows all about social media for a living, telling me it was a “best use of social media,” it went nowhere.
Then TikTok came along. After faltering initially, I ported In The Chips with Barry to TikTok with some success. Then in March of 2021, I thought, “What would happen if I started posting the “making of” videos from Sandwiches of History to TikTok?” So I did. I literally posted them complete with Instagram stickers on top and zero editing. My expectations were not high.
But, lo and behold, it caught on. People were into it. So I started recording and posting new videos and the account continued its ascent. In the videos, I make the sandwiches as written, and then, if they aren’t that interesting (which most aren’t) I “plus them up” with modern ingredients. Oddly enough, this caused me to change how I posted on the Instagram account that had been idle and it has led to growth there as well.
I am decidedly not a teenager, I don’t hop on trends, I don’t dance (at least not on this channel) nor do I post 3 times a day. So why do I think this happened?