Our first week on TikTok saw our account go semi-viral with two (read: TWO) posts which garnered over 60k views overall. We don’t wanna toot our own horn too much, but here we go: toot toot 📯
Bringing our egos back to earth, though, we’ve discovered that the TikTok algorithm is a strange old beast. Out of the four videos we’ve posted thus far, two have done exceedingly well while the other two have been a little more… modest in growth. Of course, we’re far from the towering heights of TikTok superstardom, but just you wait.
From these early beginnings, we’ve had a bit of insight as to what does and doesn’t work, and we wanted to share our initial musings with you, a person who wants to also get big on the ‘Tok. Read on and let us impart upon you our sage guidance as to how to go viral on TikTok.
Between all the members of our in-house content team, we’ve been creating different kinds of social media content across other platforms for a while now. We’ve written and created for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, WordPress and even Snapchat over the years.
Creating TikTok videos were a whole other kettle of fish. Don’t underestimate how smart Gen Z-ers are – they were definitely given some sort of extra training as kids or something. Somehow they can make head or tail of the editing process, but we found it far too complex to create and edit even a simple video.
One solution would be to build and edit everything via external video editing tools. Create a video (remembering the dimensions of a mobile device, of course) in whichever programme works for you, or even build it online with Canva (*cue professional designers everywhere groaning*) and then upload it via either the TikTok website on desktop, or transfer it to your phone for more customisation.
Editing it outside of the app allows for many more possibilities, including making it look more professionally made. Our recommendation would be to keep it homemade, though. TikTok’s audience isn’t expecting professionalism. This isn’t LinkedIn, after all.
Make it fun, make it informal, make it funny and make it a little rough around the edges.
Take it from Innocent Ireland, for example. When you look at their videos, you wouldn’t expect these videos were made by a brand 90% owned by The Coca-Cola Company.
Keep It Snappy
If there’s one thing we know about younger audiences, it’s that they’re a lot less patient. They’ve already given up reading this blog. They want to consume as much content as possible, as quickly as possible. They’re playing Youtube at 2x speed. Apparently, they’re playing Spotify at 2x speed, too?
So if you’re not giving them fast and to the point, you’ve lost them. What’s the point in dragging it out? This article believes that the optimal length of TikTok videos is sixteen seconds, with eighty percent of videos on the platform lasting between 11 and 20 seconds. We’d say aim for the shorter side of that limit.
You’ve got to get it from the get-go. Though there isn’t much research into the average view time of an individual organic TikTok, findings in user data have shown that promotions have an average watch time of around 3.33 seconds.
That means if they’re not interested in the first few seconds, they’re offskies. Get more people to stop scrolling by making the first moment as captivating as possible. You can do this by giving the proposition of the video in the first frame.
Music To Their Ears
Trending audio is an incredibly popular part of TikTok, a remnant of when the app was Musical.ly back in the olden days (circa 2017). You’re undoubtedly aware of the sometimes impeccable, sometimes cringe dance videos, which is a massive part of the social media platform.
But just because you’re not doing the Lotus Flower Bomb dance (yes we had to look that up) doesn’t mean you don’t need to be listening out for trending sounds. Adding trending music to your TikTok (when it’s relevant, of course) allows you to jump onto the snowballing viral trend of the moment, heightening your chances of ending up on the for you/discover page. Just please, don’t use that “Into the Thick of It” song. We can’t handle hearing it any more.
If you’re using your own audio, that’s great too! But a hugely important part of this new world is accessibility. If you’re posting a video with any amount of dialogue in it, make sure that you’re captioning the whole video, even if you’re just adding text throughout.
Know Your Niche – And Stick To It
When you’re creating your TikTok account, you’ll want to think about what area of TikTok you’d eventually like to attract. This weird and wonderful app has so many hidden corners for specific content, and a built-in audience for each one.
For example, “BookTok” caters to readers and literary enthusiasts, and “HorseTok”, which, you guessed it, is for the equestrians.
This can get complicated, however, as if you take a lovely video of a horse one day and hashtag it #HorseTok, you’re likely to attract that audience, and while it will provide a great boost to your views, if you can’t provide more horse content, it might cause problems with the algorithm.
People going onto TikTok to watch videos of dogs probably don’t want to see your film review. To that end, find a niche and stick with it! If someone’s already doing what you’re doing, find a way to put your own spin on it.
Ours? We’re focusing on office content with the occasional dog video peppered in for good measure. These have a wide audience, being comedy, and a more niche audience – those who work in offices and can relate, or those who love dogs. So everyone.
Why did the TikToker break up with their partner?
Lack of engagement.
Seriously, though, much like a traditional relationship, a good TikTok needs a large, slightly attention-seeky and grandiose gesture of love and commitment. You want people liking, sharing, commenting and doing whatever to draw more attention to it. Get more engagement, and you and your TikTok content are on the way to being the perfect couple.
But how do you *guarantee* that your video receives a comment from Joe Public? The simplest way is to include a call to action. End your video asking for audience input, ask a question in the caption, or go rogue and include something a bit random in the background of a video that might get people talking.
Conversely, if there’s an obvious question that you think will need answering within the video, DON’T answer it. Let the audience do a little bit of legwork and ask you – you’re essentially giving yourself free engagement!
Commenting is the best form of engagement because it shows that the user cares enough to stop and type and get involved. Whether they’re replying to a question in the caption, drawing attention to something in the video, or just complimenting the magnificent creature in the video (for some reason people really love our director, Ben), every comment registers within the algorithm as someone well-engaged in the TikTok.
These users who watch videos all day have taken time out of their busy video-watching to comment on yours. Not the one they doomscrolled past before, or the one after. YOURS.
It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over
As with every platform, your chances of becoming an overnight sensation aren’t high. You aren’t us, after all.
But seriously – we’ve had two successful TikToks and three that have struggled. Not every single one is gonna break the internet. We can’t all be that dog that rests beverages on his bum.
Dog resting things on his bum
Keep posting a few videos here and there, whenever you can. Add the relevant hashtags, and try to find those niche hashtags that will attract the smaller corners of the community. Collab with other content creators where you can, and watch as you gain more followers and deeper engagement.
@charlidamelio wasn’t built in a day, so keep working on that account and doing what you can – you’ll go viral on TikTok in no time. In the meantime, follow us at @digitalmediateam_ to keep up to date with our latest videos and tips!
DMT is a digital marketing team based in the heart of Manchester. If you’re interested in seeing how we can help your business succeed online, get in touch, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.