How to go Viral on TikTok
Updated: Aug 18
So you’re wondering how to go viral on TikTok? We don’t blame you! It’s the social media platform everyone can’t stop talking about. Not only has the app been downloaded over 2.6 billion times worldwide, but it also has around 3.7 million monthly active users in the UK, who spend an average of 41 minutes on the app every single day.
It’s no longer the place of silly dances and lip-syncing, but a community where people of all lifestyles share a variety of content from creative content like art or animation to inquisitive content like true crime or movie analyses. Any type of content can succeed on the platform, which is part of what makes it so fun.
TikTok can be a mystifying thing for new brands or creators navigating the platform. But it’s definitely a platform worth decoding if you want any chance of going viral on social media.
To go viral on TikTok, there are a few key things any creator or brand must know.
The TikTok Algorithm
Users can discover Tiktok content on their personal For You Page (FYP). There are several factors that influencer a user's FYP: user preferences, video information and user account settings.
No two FYP's are the same. They are personalised for each user based on their previous interactions. A user's likes, shares, follows and comments can all influence what content appears on their For You Page. However, the most important factor to consider is a user's video completion; if a user finishes a video or rewatches a video, this will alert Tiktok that a user is interested in this content and will continue to show similar content on their FYP in the future. Video completion is also an important factor in boosting a video to other users with similar interests.
The video information within each video is also a factor to consider when looking at the Tiktok algorithm. Information like the length of the video, the caption and the background sound all play a part in which FYPs the video will be shown on. However, the most important factor to consider is the use of hashtags; any user that watches or creates a video with a specific hashtag will be more likely to see videos that use that hashtag in the future.
A user's account settings such as language preference, country setting, and device type are all factors included making sure the system is optimized for performance. However, these factors receive a lower weight in the recommendation system relative to other data points since users don't actively express these as preferences.
The Batch Effect
TikTok is a meritocracy that gives every video a chance. The algorithm shows every video to a small audience on the For You Page (FYP). Even those with 0 followers. If the video performs well with this small group, TikTok will push it out to more people that they think will like it.
The “Batch Effect”, while unconfirmed by Tiktok, is a popular theory among content creators suggesting that TikTok shows your video to different 'batches' of people at different times. The time lag between different batches can take up to several days. Creators have observed that their video views often “jump” significantly after plateauing. This is speculated to be because the next “batch” has launched and their content has been exposed to more users.
Tips for Going Viral
1. Jumping on Trends
There are a lot of trends on TikTok. From dances to phrases and everything in between. Popular trends right now include 'Freedom Outfits' since the ease of UK restrictions, Satisfying Restock Videos and the usual Singing and Dancing videos.
A great way to find the trends is to check out popular hashtags on the Discover page. You'll find trending hashtags along with videos that go with it. Another great way to find trends is to scroll your own For You Page to see what others are sharing. Just remember, Tiktok is such a fast-paced app that trends are always changing.
You can also increase visibility and shareability by using trending effects and sounds. Trending effects are very popular and TikTok actively promotes videos that use them. Sounds can trend the same way that hashtags and effects do. To find popular sounds, open your video editor, and click on the Sounds tab; here you’ll see trending sounds as you scroll through the list. You can also sign up for a TikTok Pro Account where you can view what sounds your followers have been listening to.
2. The 3 Second Rule
Tiktok is a fast-paced app where you have to grab people’s attention quickly before they swipe past your video to watch other content. If there’s no action till the end, most people won’t watch.
As mentioned, key metrics that are being measured are watch time and completion rate. If the watch-time is low and the audience is only watching a few seconds of your video before scrolling to another one, the algorithm will stamp your video as unengaging and irrelevant, which is not ideal.
So how do you avoid this? You make sure that your video captivates your audience within the first 3 seconds! The longer people stay on your video, the higher the completion rate and the more likely TikTok will continue to boost your post until you go viral.
3. Encourage Conversation
As mentioned, comments drive virality. Encourage conversation in any way you can. This may involve doing something controversial or giving random details for users to comment about. People love to give their opinion, so ask for it! Controversial topics don't have to be political either; controversial topics can include the amount of cream cheese on a bagel or who the strongest avenger is! As long as you're prepared to embrace any haters, your video virality can soar.
Another way to encourage conversation is by replying to comments. If you can engage with commentators and get them to continue commenting on your video. However, if you have a video that is going viral on TikTok and you are replying to comments, don’t go too fast or you’ll get blocked.
4. Provide Value
Yes, dances get views, but interesting and compelling stories are more likely to go viral. These stories can be about anything. It can be something interesting that happened in your life, something random that happened during your day, or a project you did. Tell the story, keep the plot flowing quickly and make sure there are aspects that people can engage with.
People on TikTok also love to learn. If you have expertise in a certain subject, create informational videos to help people learn more about it. Quick bullet point videos work great for these, with text over the screen guiding the user through the tutorial. Likewise, TikTokers love to shop, so sharing favourite products or recommendations is a surprisingly easy way to gain traction.
5. Engage with Others
It’s important to spend a little time each day watching videos on the FYP. This will help you get new ideas and keep up with the current trends, which are very relevant to stay on top of to create top-performing content.
If you see a video that you enjoy, make sure to interact with it. Like and comment on videos from other creators; engagement is the most important factor in TikTok’s algorithm, so they are likely to appreciate your efforts, and be more open to returning the favour when you publish new videos. If you make an interesting comment on a popular post this can lead others to click on your profile and interacting with you there. TikTok also offers the “duet” tool so you can react to or duet videos you enjoy.
TikTok is a community, and showing others’ support can go a long way toward helping them, and you.
6. Utilise Tiktok Analytics
Don’t forget to use TikTok analytics. TikTok offers you to move from a personal to a business account where you have access to analytics on your account. Here you can see how people found your videos, what time your followers are active, where they live, and so much more. This will help you analyze your videos and increase the likelihood of going viral.
If you want deeper insights, click into the Content tab for extended data and analytics for each video. You’ll find information such as total views, total likes, comments, shares, average watch time, who watched the full video, traffic source type, and audience territories. All Content metrics are available for the last 7 days only.
Some examples of businesses who have mastered the Tiktok game are:
RyanAir are the masters of jumping on trends. Their Tiktok team use popular trends and sounds and trending hashtags to create viral video after viral video. Their most popular videos have achieved 19.7M views and have gained them 959.5K followers (at the time of writing).
RyanAir have also utilised the new categories feature provided by Tiktok. Their videos are separated into 3 categories: funny videos, 'flexing' videos and RyanAir aeroplane videos. Using this feature means that those who are looking through the RyanAir Tiktok page can find videos easily based on video type.
ASOS, in line with their brand image, chose to be trendsetters on Tiktok. Working with Byte, ASOS took to Tiktok with a Branded Hashtag Challenge. ASOS used a bespoke sound and an AR Branded Effect that was exciting and easy to use.
ASOS collaborated with several content creators across the UK and US and this helped boost the brand's exposure in a competitive e-commerce market. The focus of the trend was on shareability; people wore ASOS outfits in the hope that it would inspire others to shop with the brand. The trend saw massive reaction and involvement from ASOS' target consumers with more than 1.2B video views in only 6 days and over 500,000 videos created by users for the campaign.
If you're a smaller business, maybe not as well known as RyanAir or ASOS, then fear not. Tiktok is still the place to be as a small business promoting your brand, products or service!
Jazzy Garms is a Bristol ravewear retailer that makes sustainable custom ravewear. Founder Jasmin Bernard took to Tiktok in 2020 to show off her products and tell stories about the growth of the brand. After blowing up on Tiktok with a few viral videos, Jazzy Garms experienced huge growth on Instagram and a boom in orders that allowed the brand to expand their seamstress team and relocate to a bigger and better studio in 2021.
The coronavirus pandemic triggered a popular trend on Tiktok known as the 'Small Business Check' as more and more people were encouraged to support smaller businesses during lockdowns. Jasmin took the opportunity to show the creation process of the Jazzy Garms products and since this most of her videos now boast over 15K views.
You don't need to be a big name brand to boost your exposure on Tiktok
Jump on trends or be a trendsetter
Post exciting content... regularly
Engage with other brands and creators
It might be your 10th or 15th video that makes it... don't lose hope!
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