When Millions are Watching

Two students carve different paths to huge – and profitable – social media followings.

The internet can be a weird place. Just ask Tandis Esfandiari.

“I tell the internet everything,” she said, referring to her lifestyle and cooking posts on TikTok and Instagram. “People are interested in the nooks and crannies of my day,” she continues. "It’s weird but I love it.”

A graduate of Walt Whitman High School and currently studying marketing at Southern Methodist University, Tandis has been marketing herself online since 2015. Her 106,000 Instagram followers and a quarter million on TikTok all know and love her tagline: “Mix it up, baby!” At MixItUpBaby.com. she shares recipes and restaurant reviews.

“I want to be the entity, like Paris Hilton,” she says. 

And then there’s Andy Jiang. Last spring Andy graduated from Winston Churchill High School and he’ll attend the University of Pennsylvania this fall. When a friend bet him that he couldn’t reach 1,000 followers on TikTok within one week, Andy accepted and quickly reached 1,200 followers. Just over a year later, his followers now number three million and some posts receive 120 million likes. But still, he considers basketball and alto sax his main extracurriculars.

From online news sources, Andy finds topics for his videos which he describes as “mainly for entertainment. But I also like to create lots of uplifting and inspiring stories,” he says. His varied topics also include current events and what he calls “tricks that give you power over your body, and cool stories from history.”

Tandis and Andy do their own photography, editing and production. Tandis, who makes jewelry that she calls “everyday pieces for elegant people” (available at TTEJewelry.com), uses a digital SLR camera for her videos. Andy, who spends an hour or two researching topics, and another one or two hours making each video, uses his phone.  

Social media is a money maker for Tandis and Andy, and, understandably, they rarely take a day off.

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