Viral TikTok Sensation Mama Tot Didn’t Set Out To Be A Content Creator

Ophelia Nichols - Instagram
Ophelia Nichols - Instagram

Ophelia Nichols didn't plan to become a viral TikTok content creator. And without setting out to do so, she has certainly mastered it with more than 12 million followers on TikTok and an additional 778,000 on Instagram.

The creator known as Mama Tot feels her purpose on social media is to help others and give them a safe place to share their life, troubles and advice.

Ophelia Nichols Didn't Plan To Be A Social Media Influencer

Ophelia Nichols
Laura Clery - YouTube

During the pandemic, Nichols found entertainment on TikTok. Being a lover of comedy, she was on the app for some laughs, but then it instantly turned into something so much more. The nickname "Mama Tot" came from her millions of followers shortly after she started sharing videos.

"So when I created the TikTok account, the only reason I created this account is because I had teenagers, they kept sending me these funny TikToks cause they know I'm a comedy lover, I love comedy. And I thought, well, let me just make an account so I can be nosey like everybody else and just watch," Nichols told podcast host Laura Clery during a recent episode.

"So I threw a username together which is Shoelover99, that's only cause I'm a huge shoe fanatic, I've been that way my entire life."

At the time, Nichols was working in a furniture company in Mobile, Alabama, and when scrolling on TikTok during her break one day, she came across a video of a young girl who got a new dress at the mall and couldn't wait to show her mom. The negative reaction she got from her mom set something off in Nichols who decided she needed to stitch her video with some positivity.

"She needed support is what she needed," she said. "I called my daughter and said I need you to show me how to make a TikTok, quick, fast and in a hurry. And I didn't know it was called a stitch at the time. I was telling my daughter I need it to show her video first and then me."

Nichols made her first stitch with her daughter's help because she was "determined to say what I needed to say" to help this girl's self-esteem. She ended up making that video in the break room right then and there.

"I don't know why, I started that video off with 'Hey, my little tater tot.'  And I proceeded with telling her, 'I think you look lovely in your dress' and 'I used to have a mom like that too.' It was very sweet. She needed a mom to say what I was saying to her," Nichols continued. "I hit the post button, put my phone down on my desk, and I went back to work. Within 30 minutes, I realized what going viral looked like. My phone was going like nuts."

After just 30 minutes time, she had around a million views on her first stitch. And when she checked out the comments, she found nothing but support and love. That's when she decided to use her positivity to help others on TikTok. Her account just took off from there.

"The number one comment I would see was 'I feel safe here,' 'I wish my mom would've talked to me like that," she said. "When I saw those comments, I said, okay, that's what I'll do. I'll use this account and do just that. I'll help people feel better about themselves. I'll make sure they know that somebody cares, even if it's just a 60-second video telling you that I'm proud of you. I mean that. And I just went with it."

Later she explained, "Because I called my followers tater tots, they call me Mama Tot," she said.

Mama Tot Didn't Continue Her TikTok Journey To Get Famous

Ophelia Nichols
Laura Clery - YouTube

Nichols continued creating "authentic" positive social media content, not to become popular or famous, but to just help as many people as she could.

"It all came to me when that happened and the account was growing like that and the messages I would receive and the comments I would receive," she continued.

"Nothing about me has changed. I've always done this, I've given my last $10 to somebody and decided I was gonna struggle just to make sure they were okay. I was always the friend that everybody came to for advice. I was always this, but that platform as large as it is, allows me to reach more people at a time. I do believe that is my purpose, that is my gift."

Nichols explained that everything she speaks about is something she's dealt with in her life. She wants her followers to know she's them when she shares her stories. She said she tries to always be "humble" and "self-aware."