How to Go Viral on TikTok: Specific Tactics to Get to 1M Followers on Short-Form Platforms
Let's dig into the things we can do as a creator to go viral on TikTok. These growth tactics also apply to other content platforms, including Reels, Shorts, FreshCut, Medal, and Snapchat.
Thu Dec 08 2022
9 min read
Short-form video is the content format of the moment. Long-form video (YouTube) and streaming are still massive, but with the rise of TikTok we've seen short-form dominate.
TikTok started in China and challenged Western platforms with its unique format - short form video with a heavy emphasis on trending sounds and memes - and virality. The For You Page powered by TikTok's powerful algorithm delivers content that is deeper, more fun, more addictive than even content from your own network. In Q4 of 2021 it was reported that TikTok overtook both Facebook and YouTube in the west.
The content created on TikTok regularly influences and shapes popular culture. The largest creators on TikTok have become celebrities themselves, famous in their own right. TikTok can "make" brands overnight thanks to the power of its massive community and viral reach.
TikTok's stratospheric growth threatened social platforms and what do people do when they are threatened? They evolve. And so YouTube and Facebook poured billions of enginering and marketing dollars into Reels and Shorts in order to compete.
According to Adweek, short-form video grew on YouTube at a faster rate then long-form in 2022. The point is that short-form content is here to stay. Short-form as a content format is a key trend that will define not just the creator economy, but the entertainment space as a whole.
With TikTok being the dominant short-form content platform today, let's dig into the things we can do as a creator to go viral on TikTok. These growth tactics also apply to other content platforms, including Reels, Shorts, FreshCut, Medal, and Snapchat.
Here are the growth tactics to go viral on TikTok and on other short-form content platforms:
- Produce engaging content that is uniquely yours. This is not rocket science advice and if there was a viral formula for content - we would all be MrBeast, but there isn't. This list would be incomplete without this item. We'd like to emphasize one thing - be uniquely yours. Be your most authentic self. And nobody can outcompete you when it's you. Your community will resonate the most with you. You will not have to put up facades if you scale. Imagine starting out with something that is not truthful to you and then growing and in X years resenting that you've picked this path? That road is much simpler if you are being truthful to what you love. Or imagine starting out with something that isn't yours and getting a number of copy cats? Good luck to everyone when they are just trying to emulate you and you bet on yourself.
2. Use popular and trending hashtags to increase your reach and visibility. Hashtags are a good mechanism. They help you get discovered. Users check them for new content. Not all platforms help uncover the best ones, but they do help. You can set your hashtags when you upload your video or short-form clip. So the first piece of advice - and you'd be surprised how many people miss this - is to add hashtags. Many forget hashtags, upload their clips, and hope for the best. We recommend you add hashtags to appear in search results. The second is to check out your platform and see what is trending. Is there a challenge or a meme? Let's include that as your hashtags. Here's a blog with even more info on TikTok hashtags. Check out this blog on more advice on tags and how to get discovered on FreshCut.
3. Collaborate with other popular TikTok users to cross-promote each other's content. Similar to #1 - this one is hard to pull off, but if you can do it - you will likely do well and meet other people. Collaborations help you build your brand, tap into other communities, and maybe even make friends or business partners. How do we collab with others? You can show them some affection in comments. You can reach out direct and point blank ask and offer a collab. This blog from ConvertKit has 9 examples of collaborations. Collabs do not have to be in short-form video alone. They can also be via other mediums even if you are primarily a short-form creator. You can do a Twitter Space together with someone or a YouTube video. Working with other creators helps to expand your reach.
4. Keep your videos short and to the point, as people's attention spans on social media are limited. We will also keep this bullet short because we alluded to this in another blog. From doing extensive research we learned that intros and outros are out. The new meta is getting to the point or else we lose engagement.
5. Use eye-catching visuals and graphics to make your videos stand out. Another one that we've covered in depth here. You can make the best short-form clip, but you won't get clicks in search results or on social when deeplinked if your thumbnail is not catchy. You can only rely on the FOR YOU feed so much. So investing in thumbnails is worth it and we break it down in depth in our guide where we share the secrets from months of research on how to do the best thumbnails.
6. Be consistent in your posting and try to post regularly to keep your audience engaged. This is something that we've learned from years of supporting creators, especially those on Twitch. Consistency wins for 2 reasons: (1) search algorithms will reward you, (2) your community will know what to expect. You can use a number of schedule tools to line up your content. FreshCut Creator Studio allows you to schedule clips. Here are many scheduling tools for TikTok and similar to FreshCut, TikTok has a native scheduling tool too.
7. Engage with your audience by responding to comments and answering questions. Another key pillar. People need love and affection. Everyone wants to belong. It is so important to respond to comments. This can be the difference between a few thousand followers and millions and yes, engaging with your community gets harder as you grow, but it is important. One way to do that is to set up notifications in the app or dedicated time to engage with your community.
8. Use relevant and popular TikTok challenges and trends to increase your visibility. This one is hyper specific. TikTok is known for its subculture. You can see what is trending and lean on it. This is similar to hashtags, but would require different videos. Popular memes and trending audio are also ways to ride the waves of trends. Please be mindful of challenges that are not safe.
9. Use TikTok's various editing tools and features to make your videos more visually appealing. TikTok has a few built in tools you can use within the app. Let's take it one step further. You can use other tools whether it is editing tools from YouTube, Streamlabs, or FreshCut.
10. Share your videos on other social media platforms to increase your reach and exposure. If you don't promote yourself, who will? One amazing thing you can do is to get into the habit of sharing your clips on Twitter. Another is to talk about your scheduled content before you post. Twitter has immense viral potential because people can retweet. It might be difficult to ask others for help and we do not want to come off as spammy, but if there is a piece of content that you made that is authentic to you and you love - you can ask your friends, family, or even your community to amplify.
11. Try to create content that is timely and relevant to current events and trends. This one is self-explanatory, but we are surprised by how often even we forget it. If something already has hype - why not lean into it to grow? What are examples of this? If we are a gaming content creator and we normally do clips about League of Legends with 80% of our content highlights of our own gameplay - what happens if we pause the regular content schedule and talk about whatever is the biggest thing that is happening in the LoL community? Maybe you cover the latest champ and give your thoughts on it or drama from the Finals? You are plugged into that community. Your voice matters. You are an expert. One way to see what is relevant is from the subreddits.
12. Utilize TikTok's duet and reaction features to create interactive content. Think collabs, but now video-specific and platform-specific. We've seen a number of creators pop off and go viral on TikTok via duets. Maybe try being a react lord, if that is authentic to you.
13. Load your description for your videos with a lot of keywords for discoverability. TikTok is threatening Google as the go-to place for SEO. Teenagers are turning to TikTok to search. Why? One thing is content and quality of recommendations. Second is power of search. TikTok understood this early and increased the maximum length for video descriptions from 300 characters to 2K+. Why do that if it can't be read on screen? Because it powers search. So use that extra character space to your advantage. Get your content discovered.
14. Experiment. Be open to trying new things and experimenting with different content formats and styles. That's right! Try new stuff. Try stuff until it works and you find a hit. This can be titles, descriptions, thumbnails, styles, uploading times, uploading frequency. This can be a new setup or a look. You will find your niche and you will win. We love this quote from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos because it applies to everything from business to content. Keep trying stuff and keep experimenting until you will your virality to existence
“Failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.” - Jeff Bezos
15. Treat everyone with kindness and empathy. We leave this one last, but it is so important. The world can be tough. You may hit obstacles. Others may hit obstacles and be unkind to you. You may make a hit clip, rise to fame, and change your demeanor. You may ask for a collaboration, spend time networking, get shut down and it may hurt. Whatever the journey - it is important to treat everyone with kindness and respect. Brands, other creators, community, platforms and developers that you use to make content - be kind and good things will come.
- Produce engaging content that is uniquely yours.
- Use popular and trending hashtags to increase your reach and visibility
- Collaborate with other popular TikTok users to cross-promote each other's content
- Keep your videos short and to the point, as people's attention spans on social media are limited
- Use eye-catching visuals and graphics to make your videos stand out. Another one that we've covered in depth here.
- Be consistent in your posting and try to post regularly to keep your audience engaged
- Engage with your audience by responding to comments and answering questions
- Use relevant and popular TikTok challenges and trends to increase your visibility
- Use TikTok's various editing tools and features to make your videos more visually appealing
- Share your videos on other social media platforms to increase your reach and exposure.
- Try to create content that is timely and relevant to current events and trends
- Utilize TikTok's duet and reaction features to create interactive content
- Load your description for your videos with a lot of keywords to make it more discoverable
- Experiment. Be open to trying new things and experimenting with different content formats and styles
- Treat everyone with kindness and empathy. We leave this one last, but it is so important
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