Conversation by: Tyler Schultz
Through sharing experiences of nostalgia, Morgan Bartel has found a community on TikTok where she hopes to bring people a sense of reminiscence and joy. The Corpus Christi native’s account, which recently gained more than half a million followers and 10.6 million likes, is her way of connecting to others around the world through similar interests. Though not about the numbers, her account’s growth demonstrates the power of connection that can be found through shared experiences. Here’s a look at some questions we had for Bartel to get a deeper look at her mission.
Tyler Schultz: When you first started creating TikToks, did you ever expect it to grow into what your account has become today?
Morgan Bartel: Absolutely not. I never wanted to do TikTok, to be honest. I do social media management for a living so I try to be mindful of how much time I give to this kind of stuff. One of my clients asked me to research the possibility of setting up a business profile for them. This led me to join on my own to study the algorithms and behaviors of users. Ultimately they decided to not proceed with a business account. I figured that since I had been watching on the app, I may as well post something myself. After that, I was hooked!
TS: What was the journey from your first viral TikTok to having more than half a million followers?
MB: It’s wild to me what goes viral on TikTok. My first viral(ish) video was my best friend and I doing the old school ‘Cat’s Cradle’ yarn trick. I shared that video along with some millennial music and the next thing I knew it was blowing up. I started with no niche but kind of fell into one. After I noticed how much joy “throwbacks” or “nostalgia” brought users I decided to focus mainly on nostalgic content. What I love about this growth and engagement is that the people I’ve been blessed to connect with have found so much joy in nostalgic content. Hearing how hard their day may have been but how happy watching my videos made them is so humbling.
TS: What has been the most enjoyable result of gaining a following?
BM: The most enjoyable result is building a community of like-minded people with shared interests. It’s so much more than the number of followers. I’ve been able to see users engage in comment threads reminiscing on childhood memories. I don’t call them my “following” but have dubbed us #thenostalgiaclub and we are everything that hashtag embodies. This has become an account where we as #thenostalgiaclub share ideas for videos. They request to see something or mention a forgotten show and I find it myself then make the videos.
TS: What do you hope people get out of the videos you’re creating?
BS: I hope that when people watch my videos that they have an instant serotonin boost. We all have hard things we face in this life. To have a space, a place, a community, to just feel joy, to remember sweeter times or precious moments in our past, is a beautiful thing. I do share a lot of my faith and life with #thenostalgiaclub too. My hope when I do this is to share REAL LIFE in a very curated online world. I pray that when I share my faith that it points them to the goodness of God and that they feel loved while viewing anything I post.
TS: A lot of your TikTok content focuses on nostalgia. What draws you to create these?
MB: I am a total nerd and love it. I’m obsessed with all things vintage, y2k, and movies/tv. Growing up my family raised me watching black and white movies, Shirley Temple, Laurel & Hardy (just to name a few). I loved it. Also, let’s be real. What millennial doesn’t remember the hold the glory days of Nickelodeon had on us?!? The shows, the music, the products, the characters…THE SLIME, how can we not still cling to that era?
TS: What do you find to be the most challenging part of keeping up with a TikTok account?
MB: This may sound odd but I haven’t found anything to be too challenging. I love creating the content itself. I enjoy hunting down long-lost footage. It’s a joy to engage with #thenostalgiaclub as well. The only thing that has presented a few struggles is hurtful comments or remarks on personal videos. In all my years managing social media I have grown a pretty thick skin so that helps tremendously. Everyone has an opinion. I just choose to create what brings me joy and ignore the negativity.
TS: Do you have any goals for yourself or your account in the future?
MB: Hitting 1 million!?! I don’t have any goals aside from creating content I can be proud of and making someone else smile because of it. The competitive nature in me sets mini-goals all the time. I didn’t even join the app until April of 2021 and I had the goal to hit 10K by the end of May. I hit that on May 5th and by July had hit 100K which is mind-blowing. Since I never know what will ‘stick’ or go viral, it’s fun seeing what does. There have been so many videos that exceed 4M or 5M views that I would have never guessed. All I know at the end of the day is that it made people laugh or smile for a brief moment. That’s my forever goal. Just keep spreading joy, love and fun!