TikTok is taking the world by storm – the platform has seen significant growth through the pandemic and people of all ages are joining the fun. TikTok remains the favorite social media app of generation Z. Companies and influencers from other platforms are catching onto this and making their presence known there by creating fun entertaining videos.
Although TikTok might seem enigmatic, if you understand the selection algorithm somewhat, you can attune your work to increase the likelihood of more people seeing it, and with that increase the width of the net you cast for people to follow and like your videos.
There is no one hack that will make this happen, and most likely unless you are extremely kawaii and get quite lucky it’ll take a little bit of work and understanding of the how to work the platform. As a sideline, you might be kawaii or have fantastic content but get very few views if you don’t know how to promote your work using sounds, hashtags, trends and other important features of what makes videos successful on the platform.
In this article, we will discuss various tips that have been tried by people who have managed to create viral content and general tips around the TikTok algorithm that can be used to boost your views. We will do this in a no-specific order as you may already have implemented some but may not have heard of some of these ideas. Use the navigation menu to the right to jump on to the tip you’d like to learn about or read the whole article for an overview.
Table of Contents
- Tip 1: Use Your Existing Skills
- Tip 2: Tell a Story
- Tip 3: Use Hashtags Wisely
- Tip 4: Prioritize Content
- Tip 5: Hop onto appropriate or completely out-there trends
Tip 1: Use Your Existing Skills
Although you can get lots of views and build a following by joining onto trends and hashtags, it is nice if you can bring something unique with you – can you create a personal spin on a trending dance or joke? If a song or sound is trending, can you play it on an instrument upside down or make your pet bird sing along to it? You get the gist, just copying people might get your views up if you do it well but adding novelty value will significantly boost your following, and besides, is it any fun just to do what others are doing exactly the same way?
The novelty factor is based on neuroscience, our brain seeks out new things and gives us a hit of dopamine every time it feels we achieve this to reinforce the behavior. This is how social media keeps people hooked, you don’t know what you’ll see with the next click, or the next page and so you keep scrolling to get that reward. If your content doesn’t provide people with a hook they’re unlikely to keep watching and part of how TikTok measures how well your video is doing is by measuring how long someone stays on the video when compared with the total length of the video.
Tip 2: Tell a Story
People love things that will entertain them in the moment, give them a feeling that they’re seeing something new, or something that speaks to them on a personal level. You can start sharing stories, these can be anything from something genuinely important like how you lost weight, or what helped you when you felt depressed to more banal things such as something interesting that happened in your day.
Keep in mind that for TikTok telling your story in an interesting way is what will keep people engaged (alongside your message). You might for example start posting dance videos and these gain a following, as your channel grows you can then start telling your followers a little more about yourself, maybe the dancing helped you get through lockdown, or the death of a loved one. This will then make people relate to you and feel empathy for your cause, and hopefully also mean that they will have more of an interest in seeing more of your work.
Stories about your daily like can also help people relate to you, there is no size fits all here. Just make sure to only post things you are comfortable sharing and remember to not let the trolls bite.
Your video description can be 100 characters and you should try to use these wisely, both in terms of division between description and hashtags and which hashtags you prioritize. TikToks algorithm will pick up words from your description and try to help target the video to people who have been interested in similar material, and hashtags will help elevate that even more. Try using a combination of common hashtags that describe your video and trending hashtags that are currently viral. To find these you can see what people are tagging in videos like yours and what is currently popular on your For You page.
Engaging with trending hashtags is likely to significantly increase your views and engagement and not only that – if you execute your video well, it’ll help you get more shares and likes.
Tip 4: Prioritize Content
TikTok videos are short, and can be one minute long at the longest, but having 15 seconds of high-quality content is likely to get you much further than a whole minute of content that might be mildly entertaining but not completely punchy. Things you can do to improve your content’s chances of being seen and increase the probability that the TikTok algorithm will promote it further will be discussed in the following subsections.
Make sure that your video starts in a highly captivating way, it will take the viewer 3 seconds to decide whether to keep watching or whether to scroll past you so make those three seconds really count. You can keep an eye on what other TikTokers are doing to achieve this. Making sure your thumbnail is enticing is also important – you want the viewer to think they will miss out if they don’t keep watching.
Some people suggest using something at the start such as text that might get people scrolling back, this might have a backlash of more people not engaging with the video. You might want to try different things to see what works for your style of content.
Include interesting things in the background
People do not only enjoy seeing new content, but some enjoy dissecting it by noting details in the background. Viewers are also interested in things you might not consider, for example, if you’re filming a recipe video and are wearing a nice piece of jewelry you might find yourself getting nearly as many questions about the jewelry as the food. This is great because it means more engagement. You should try to answer comments discussing other things in your video to keep this going. You might even find yourself finding sponsors following this.
Don’t be too obvious about this, but also don’t be afraid to feature occasional off-topic components in your videos e.g. if you’re talking about going for a walk you can mention or even show the sandwich you’re picking up on the way. Food is especially interesting to people as if it looks good it can trigger FOMO leading to increases in engagement as our brains are hardwired to look for food.
Another people pleaser are pets, are you doing a gardening video? Can it briefly feature your dog or have the dog in the background even if they’re not the main event? Things like this can help you get more involvement from viewers and help keep people coming back.
An example of this is Benji, the dog from Yoga with Adriene, although he is likely in her Youtube videos because he wants to keep her company and if she’s filming for sometime, leaving him alone might not be the best option for him, Benji has become a feature people absolutely adore on the channel. Benji might even help set Adriene apart to animal lovers. When they choose a yoga video they may remember her more, she might be more distinguishable among the other great yoga channels because he features. This is a great example of someone having a distinct set of skills (teaching yoga well and being relatable), also having another hook to their channel deliberate or not.
Think about it and you might find that many of the content creators you love have things that set them apart alongside their main skill. You might not find what this is for you for a while as you’ll see what interests your followers if you engage in reading and using the comments section as an additional place to collect data.
Have some parts be deliberately unclear
This might seem like a cheap trick, but it works! If you have something be slightly unclear or avoid explaining an obvious clue the viewers might need to fully decode your video they will do one of two things (or both);
- They will go back to check it again and maybe do this more than once
- They will comment to ask
Both these things do wonders for increasing your engagement and visibility on TikTok. Answering comments and creating a healthy debate will really help boost you as well.
Another way to do this is for example have fast moving subtitles, in one segment of the video.
There are two ways you can use sound to your advantage.
The first one is using trending songs and sounds as people can filter using these and increase the chances of your video being noted. Using a trending sounds works much like using a trending hashtag and leads to TikTok promoting your content more as it hits more of the points they use in the algorithm that helps select what content is likely to be popular.
The second way to use sound is to add a narration to your video, so can have two layers of sound; one lower with the trending music and one where you voiceover what you’d like to say. This then gets picked up by TikTok and some of the words you use will then be recognized and help further increase the chances of the video being promoted (Yes they are listning – or the machine learning algorithm they’re using is).
Use a different editing style
This might be for once you are more of a pro at things, but since the tools for video editing that TikTok offers are the same for everyone, users’ videos can start looking much of a likeness. As we discussed previously novelty hooks people, by using video editing software outside of TikTok you can create different effects and transitions that will engage the subconscious parts of the brain as it is providing that dopamine hit of having found something new.
Include an Action Statement
Make sure your video includes an action statement such as follow, like, etc in some form. People are more likely to follow the action statement if it doesn’t seem too plastic or fake, so if you can find a fun spin on it that is just yours you’re more likely to benefit from it.
Tip 5: Hop onto appropriate or completely out-there trends
Part of being on social media is keeping up – so apart from creating ace content you also need to keep up with the platform. It’s a fast-paced environment on TikTok, and you will miss things if you’re not engaged in the community yourself.
If you create a certain type of content chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of similar content and you can then take your own spin on trending jokes, hashtags and phrases. Including this type of thing in your videos in addition to the points discussed above it will help your content stay relevant to the platform and increase engagement.
If you see any fun trends that have little to do with your main content, chances are a lot of your followers would still think it’s hilarious/fun/interesting to see your take on it, so don’t hesitate to upload something just because it might not be fully in the ethos of your other content, unlike platforms such as Instagram or YouTube where you might be penalized for this if you do it too often, it’s totally awesome if you want to do that on TikTok.
While there is no perfect recipe for creating a viral TikTok video there are some things that will help you be on your way because they help your content be selected for by the App’s algorithm. Most people have to try for a while before achieving their 15 minutes or 15 seconds of viral fame, but certain creators have once, and again proven the power of knowing how to work the algorithm combined with producing a high-quality video. Don’t get too obsessed and try to have fun – that will also shine through and help promote your content and people can see genuine enjoyment and emotion in your work.
If you really want to get down in the gritty convert the account you post from to a professional account to see a lot more data and statistics about your engagement, followers and more.