TikTok has officially taken the world by storm. Not only is the social media app arguably the most addictive thing on the planet (guilty,) but it’s also home to many famous faces, rising stars and everything in between. When it comes to who has the most followers on TikTok, unsurprisingly, it’s a long list of teenage sensations that have danced, beatboxed and lip-synced their way into the public eye, but increasingly, TikTok popularity is going mainstream. Names like Bella Poarch and Charli D’Amelio have been able to jump from TikToker to celebrity, launching cosmetics lines, podcasts and even scoring a movie deal or two. Whether you’re simply a fan and want to know who’s who in the social media world, or you’re keen on figuring out how to get Tiktok famous yourself, taking a look at these stars is a good place to start.
Most Followed Tiktok Stars
With more than 1 billion global users and over 2.6 billion downloads, TikTok boasts an audience that few other social apps can hold a candle to. Naturally, the platform has birthed a few major stars, with several accounts racking up incredible follower rates and audience engagement. Famous faces like Addison Rae and even Will Smith have remained integral members of the platform’s elite list, however, an unknown has rocketed out from obscurity to become the world’s most-followed TikToker. Khaby Lame is now the most popular creator on the platform, just over two years since launching his account at the beginning of the pandemic, but he’s not alone. Here are the most followed TikTok stars on the planet for this year.
1. Khaby Lame
The most followed person on TikTok is Italy-based comedian Khaby Lame. How does the man who has the most followers on TikTok get his loyal supporters? He creates videos reacting to other popular videos, generally without saying a word. Yes, seems unbelievably simple, but the results show for themselves – this is what the people want! Why? We have no idea, but Samir Chaudry, a founder of The Publish Press, a newsletter covering the creator economy has an idea.
“His content almost debunks or mocks the overproduced trends that happen across social media, whether it’s life hacks or other things like that,” Chaudry told the New York Times. “He almost represents this authenticity over production. I think that’s very appealing at scale to people, this feeling of someone not trying too hard, it’s something that feels authentic.”
Lame’s journey from obscurity to stardom is an interesting one. After Man of Many’s Staff Favourites – 10 July 2021, the amateur comedian started his account, posting several videos responding to overly complicated ‘life hacks’ by performing the same task in an incredibly simple manner, without speaking. His straightforward and silent approach allowed him to transcend language barriers, generating enormous global interest and catapulting him to the top of the most-followed charts in his home country.
Perhaps most impressive of all, Lame has been able to leverage his online popularity into financial success as well. In August 2021, he appeared as a co-star for Juventus F.C.’s announcement of Manuel Locatelli and just months later, he attended the Venice Film Festival as a special guest for the first screening of French film Lost Illusions by Xavier Giannoli. In January 2022, Lame signed a multi-year partnership with Hugo Boss, taking a lead role in the fashion label’s #BeYourOwnBoss campaign and kickstarting a seriously impressive fashion career. On the follower front, he managed to pip American star Charli D’Amelio to the post in June 2022, surpassing her to become the most followed TikToker in the world.
Name: Khabane Lame
Followers: 148.3 million
TikTok Handle: @khaby.lame
2. Charli D’Amelio
You’ve heard the name, but have you ever wondered how many followers Charli D’Amelio has? The teenager is the second most followed TikTokers in the world right now with a whopping 145 million fans. The undisputed Queen of TikTok, she catapulted onto the TikTok scene with her videos of dance choreography, and the world can’t get enough, even going on to appear in a Super Bowl commercial and score her own show, along with her sister and fellow TikTok royalty Dixie D’Amelio.
While Charli was initially able to secure an impressive following on her own, the TikToker really accelerated things when she joined The Hype House in 2019. Moving into a full-time content creation role, she was picked up by former Sony Music executive Barbara Jones’ management company, Outshine Talent, before signing with United Talent Agency along with the rest of her family. That move pushed the envelope even further and in November 2020, she became the first person to earn 100 million followers on TikTok.
Since then, Charli D’Amelio has released a book Essentially Charli: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping It Real, co-created and became the face of Social Tourist, an apparel brand under Hollister and even partnered with Simmons Bedding Company to design and release the Charlie & Dixie x Simmons Mattress. Perhaps her biggest deal, however, was the partnership with Hulu. Starring alongside her family in the docuseries The D’Amelio Show, which became the most-watched unscripted series among all first-season titles in the genre, the TiKToker has created a far-reaching profile the likes of which none have surpassed. Impressive stuff, to say the least.
Name: Charli D’Amelio
Followers: 145.1 million
Location: United States
TikTok Handle: @charlidamelio
3. Bella Poarch
With just over 90 million TikTok followers, American-Filipino Bella Poarch rose to fame thanks to her hilarious TikToks, most of which were around gaming or her lip-syncing. She gained noteriety in August 2020, when a video of her lip-syncing to “Sophie Aspin Send” by Millie B went viral. The zoomed-in clip saw her rhythmically bouncing her head along to the song in an almost hypnotic fashion, quickly becoming one of TikTok’s most liked videos of all time. She actually formerly served in the United States Navy before becoming a TikTok star, (talk about a career change), but she’s not stopping there.
A talented musician and performer, Poarch signed a record deal with Warner Records in May 2021, releasing a debut single Build a Bitch. Since then, she’s dropped a EP, Dolls, along with a series of music videos featuring other viral internet celebrities.
Name: Bella Poarch
Followers: 91.1 million
Location: United States
TikTok Handle: @bellapoarch
4. Addison Rae
It’s no secret that having some killer dance moves is a ticket to success on TikTok, and Addison Rae is no exception. Coming in as fourth on the list of most followed TikTokers (not to mention highest earning), Addison is a dancer-turned viral sensation, with deals with popular brands like adidas and Reebok, plus she now even stars in films and has appeared in an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, which means she must be a big deal, right?
Like Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Rae was formerly a member of The Hype House, a TikTok collaborative group, which helped to solidify her presence on the platform. After joining TikTok in 2019, she quickly rose through the ranks and it wasn’t long before the teenager dropped out of college to pursue her social media dream.
“I remember that’s when it changed for me,” Rae told Business Insiderin April 2020. “I knew I wanted to take it more seriously and expand it to other platforms. I uploaded a video to YouTube and got really active on Instagram.”
It’s a decision that has served the 21-year-old well. Since leaving college, Rae has launched her own cosmetics line, Item Beauty, leased a weekly podcast exclusive to Spotify with her mother called “Mama Knows Best” and starred in He’s All That, a remake film of the 1999 teen comedy She’s All That. Released on Netflix in August 2021, the film was a smash-hit, becoming the platform’s most streamed film of the week, despite garnering a series of negative reviews. Nevertheless, Rae has firmed her work with the streamer, signing a deal with Netflix for more movies and, presumably, more followers.
Name: Addison Rae
Followers: 88.6 million
Location: United States
TikTok Handle: @addisonre
5. Will Smith
When asking who is the most followed person on TikTok, Will Smith may not be the first person to come to mind. Pretty much the only person on this list to be famous before the platform, actor Will Smith has hit the big time on the app by sharing funny videos, and making the most of the effects and sound features.
He joined the platform back in 2019, with his first post showing him on a young man’s phone, only to be plucked from the screen and dropped into the room with him. Smith ended the clip by saying, “I guess I’m on TikTok now. That was weird, y’all.” To be honest, his success is probably more to do with all the attention he received on his social media profile after the infamous slapping of Chris Rock at the 2022 scars ceremony. Go figure.
Name: Will Smith
Followers: 72.2 million
Location: United States
TikTok Handle: @willsmith
6. Zach King
No stranger to viral success, Zach King has taken his brand of virality off YouTube and Instagram and replicated it on TikTok. Whilst he is actually a filmmaker, author, magician and illusionist (name a better combo,) he rose to fame on the app through his mind-blowing videos and unique content.
In 2021, King nabbed the fifth most viewed video on the social media app, ending the year with over 175 million views. The video showed King walking through what looks like an art fair when he stumbles across an impressive chalk drawing of a deep, dark pit in the ground. Stopping for a photo op, the ground under him gives way and Zach tumbles down into the drawing, disappearing into the pit below. The clip blurred the lines between real-life and illusion, something his fans have become custom to over the years, It’s safe to say, we could spend hours watching his whacky videos.
Name: Zach King
Followers: 69.1 million
Location: United States
TikTok Handle: @zachking
7. Kimberly Loaiza
A singer and dancer, Kimberly Loaiza has used TikTok to catapult herself to stardom. Her videos are about all things dancing and singing with a few other random ones thrown in there too, and they’ve received a whole lot of love – she now has her own clothing line. She is also the most popular Spanish-speaking YouTuber with the most subscribers on YouTube.
Name: Kimberly Loaiza
Followers: 66.3 million
TikTok Handle: @kimberly.loaiza
8. Burak Özdemir
Now this one is a little different, not only is Burek one of the most followed TikTok stars, he is a qualified chef and restaurant owner. He shot to fame with his friendly, lively cooking videos, sharing the goodness of Turkish cooking with the world, and we can’t thank him enough. His success on the app has drawn other social media celebs to his restaurants – an ingenious plan of attack, if you ask us.
Name: Burek Özdemir
Followers: 64.5 million
TikTok Handle: @burak..ozdemir_
9. Dixie D’Amelio
Yup, it must run in the family, this is the sister of the second most followed TikTok star, Charlie D-Amelio. Just like her younger sibling, she’s got some killer dance moves and has also since found fame with the launch of the clothing brand, Social Tourist. Outside of TikTok, Dixie has managed to make a name for herself in music, releasing a single Be Happy in June 2020, which has since gone on to accumulate more than 90 million streams on Spotify.
The success of her debut track managed to capture the attention of industry executives, which saw Dixie sign a lucrative record deal with L.A. Reid’s label HitCo Entertainment. She’s since released singles with Wiz Khalifa and Rubi Rose, alongside a debut album A Letter to Me. Additionally, a report from Forbes revealed that D’Amelio earned USD$2.9 million in the last year through June from her sponsorship deals and merchandise, making her the third highest-earning TikTok star.
Name: Dixie D-Amelio
Followers: 57.4 million
Location: United States
TikTok Handle: @dixiedamelio
10. Spencer X
The 10th most followed TikTok star and the last to make the list is none other than Spencer X. Spencer X is a beatbox musician, who used the platform to share his talents and capitalise on his impressive skills. He was one of 18 talented creators who would receive a share of TikTok’s new $2 billion Creator Fund.
After making a name on the social media app, Spencer has collaborated with massive music artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys and G-Eazy, catapulting him into the public eye. Speaking with Forbes in 2020, the TikToker revealed that he has plans to be a global sensation and he’s aiming pretty high.
“I’m going to be the largest man-made business within the entertainment industry,” he told the publication. “I’m going to beatbox at the Grammy’s. I’m going to beatbox with Beyonce. And my dream is that I want to perform at the Super Bowl.”
Name: Spencer Polanco Knight
Followers: 55 million
Location: United States
TikTok Handle: @spencerx
The Rise of TikTok
As far as social media channels go, the tale of TikTok has been one of mass adoption. Over the past five years, the platform has surged in popularity, however, it took a global pandemic to see TikTok’s influence truly take hold in the West. Looking back, it’s hard to believe just how meteoric the platform’s rise has been, not to mention, how quickly TikTok has become part of our daily lives.
The social app is owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, which purchase Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok back in 2016. From there, the company went on to acquire U.S. video app Flipgram and lip-syncing app Musical.ly, which kickstarted the global phenomenon. ByteDance rejigged the process and dropped Musical.ly music-focus, instead prioritising short-form video content across a wide range of genres. The social app steadily grew in popularity, however, the mobile app reached critical acclaim during the height of the global pandemic.
With more users inside and looking to social media for entertainment and connection, downloads of the app rapidly increased, thanks in part to celebrity backing and a clever marketing campaign from owner ByteDance. According to Forbes, TikTok was the #1 top grossing app on iOS App Store globally in the second quarter of 2020. Flash-forward to 2022 and TikTok is now available in over 150 countries, boasting over 1 billion global users, the vast majority of which fall within the age categories of 10-29. For marketers and influencers, that’s big business.
A traditionally challenging category to tackle, youth audiences represent an underutilized segment, however, ByteDance’s ability to connect brands with users has seen major adoption across the board. Like YouTube and Twitch, the first-person nature of TikTok has seen everyday people garner massive followings and in turn, capitalise on lucrative endorsement deals. TikTok native Addison Rae has made her way into Holywood, starring in feature films, Khaby Lame is now the face of BOSS and TikTok train guy Francis Bourgeois has even modelled for Gucci.
The TikTok Algorithm
Ah, yes, like everything these days, there is actually an algorithm going on behind the scenes, which is the reason why you spend hours upon hours on the app, and don’t worry, we’ve all been there. The TikTok algorithm works by creating a recommendation system that determines which videos will appear on your For You page. These recommendations are based on previous videos you’ve watched, creators you love, and so on.
Naturally, users have become more sceptical about social media algorithms in recent months, prompting many platforms to reveal the basic workings of their formulas. Like Instagram, the TikTok algorithm bases recommendations on a user’s interactions with content on the app. Here’s how TikTok itself defines the For You algorithm:
“A stream of videos curated to your interests, making it easy to find content and creators you love … powered by a recommendation system that delivers content to each user that is likely to be of interest to that particular user.”
According to social media and marketing resource Hootsuite, the algorithm is directly influenced by a few key metrics and interactions. These include:
- Videos liked or shared
- Videos you’ve favourited
- Content you’ve created
- Accounts you follow
- Creators you’ve hidden
- Comments you’ve posted
- Videos you’ve marked as “Not Interested”
- Videos you’ve reported
- Video completion rate
Celebrities on TikTok
A huge part of TikTok’s success has to do with celebrity interest in the app, with many famous faces joining the community and posting videos via the platform. Celebrities not only use the app, but they encourage their following to use it too, like Jimmy Fallon’s #TumbleweedChallenge, where people stop what they’re doing and roll around on the ground while an old western movie soundtrack plays. TikTok has become so popular, that it has even created its own version of celebrity!
As The Guardian reported “The success of any burgeoning app is often tied to the early adoption of a key celebrity. The fortunes of Snapchat have been closely tied to the whims of Kylie Jenner, Instagram has Selena Gomez, and Twitter now has a certain Mr Trump. For TikTok, late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon may be the user that pushes it over the edge in the United States.”
As the publication rightly points out, Fallon’s early adoption of TikTok remains one of the platform’s most significant drivers. Way back in November 2018, The Tonight Show host spoke about the social app, encouraging viewers to take part in a series of challenges, such as the #TumbleweedChallenge. Since then, a number of major celebrities have taken to TikTok to grow their youth audiences, with Fresh prince star Will Smith even making his way into the top 10 most followed TikTok accounts on the planet.
With 148.3 million followers, Khaby Lame has the most followers on TikTok.
Charli D'Amelio has 145.1 million followers.