Eleven seconds is all it took.
On Aug. 31, Meg Adams '22 shared an 11-second TikTok video of her stylishly decorated residence hall room inside Bucknell's South Campus Apartments.
Just two days later, the video had been viewed more than 125,000 times, making it the most-viewed organic social media post in Bucknell history. Not bad for a TikTok channel that's less than a week old.
Describing a TikTok video with words is like trying to write about a Picasso painting: You really have to see it to understand. But we'll attempt it anyway. In the video, Adams appears in front of a photo of an empty room inside the South Campus Apartments. The walls are bare — the space a blank canvas for a student's creativity.
With a flick of her hand and some audio inspiration from Edna Mode of The Incredibles — "Pull yourself together!" — the room gets an instant makeover. Now we see that same space transformed into a tranquil, inviting place to study and sleep.
"The best thing to do at the beginning, for any content creator, is just to make as much as you can," says Adams, who's documented her Bucknell career in a series of popular YouTube videos she shot and edited herself. "Make as much variety as you can and then see what your niche will become so you can start producing similar content."
Social media algorithms — the secret formula a platform uses to determine which posts to serve to users — are notoriously difficult to predict. So a content creator's best bet is to post authentic material that showcases their personality.
Bucknell's personality is a reflection of its students and their creativity, curiosity and collaborative spirit. Fittingly, Bucknell's TikTok account will feature regular takeovers by students who, like Adams, can share their Bucknell experience in interesting ways.
"We want to showcase what our students think makes Bucknell special," says Leah Mallett, associate director of digital & social media. "We want to see Bucknell from the perspective of our students — a day in their life or behind the scenes at places like soccer practice, theatre rehearsal or a group meeting. We want to see a diverse set of views of life at Bucknell."
When Adams started researching colleges as a high school student, her channel of choice was YouTube. She wanted to look beyond what schools were sharing on their official accounts to see what students were posting about their college experience.
As a first-year student at Bucknell, Adams started creating her own YouTube videos — in a sense paying it forward for high schoolers in her same shoes.
In 2019, her sophomore year at Bucknell, Adams discovered TikTok. Just two years later, she was chosen as the first student to take over Bucknell's new TikTok account — a role she says she was "very honored" to fill.
"Honestly, any student here would be perfect," Adams says. "They lead such interesting lives, and we spend so much time on social media and TikTok. They couldn't have gone wrong with any student."
Students can apply to be considered for a future takeover, and Mallett plans to select a wide range of students who will bring fresh, interesting perspectives to the account.
"We want to see what's authentically interesting to you," Mallett says. "Don't try to figure out the algorithm. Just show what makes Bucknell special to you."
As someone who was a TikTok user long before she was a TikTok creator, Adams says she can't wait to see what her fellow students do next.
"While the student creators are chosen by Bucknell, they're letting us produce content that students are more likely to actually watch," she says. "I think the unfiltered view helps people feel closer to the students and to Bucknell."