How to go viral on TikTok

Following on from our piece about whether you should have a TikTok account for business (TLDR: if you sell to young people, yes you should!), let’s take a look at what sort of videos tend to do well on the platform. 

Now, while there isn’t exactly a tried and tested recipe for virality, there are things that most successful TikTok videos have in common. 

The content

The first thing to understand is that TikTok’s algorithm is far more content-driven than other platforms like Twitter or Facebook that might show you posts based on them being created by your friends. On TikTok, you need engagement metrics such as likes, shares, comments and even watch time if your content is going to make it onto the coveted ‘For You’ page. This is the default home page for TikTok users, meaning that if one of your videos is featured here, you can reach people outside of your current network as soon as they open the app. 

This isn’t the platform for long, educational videos. TikTok is all about short, snappy video clips. That’s not to say you can’t publish educational content – plenty of small businesses do – but you need to do it in bitesize chunks. In fact, most TikTok videos are under 45 seconds long. 

Think about what you can say in a clip that’s only half a minute long.

Also think about how to make a meaningful connection with your audience while entertaining them. Take a look at this video from Pwuffy, a small business selling bags and wallets:

@pwuffyshop

I designed a WALLET!! 🐈💕 #kawaiifashion #cutewallet

♬ 3:03 PM – しゃろう

This isn’t just a “buy my product” marketing video. Instead, the business owner is showing her customers four samples of her cat wallet design, and asking for feedback about which one she should commission. She’s not just trying to sell them something: she’s asking for their help in making what they want to buy. In so doing, she’s building a deeper connection with them. 

You’ll also see that this isn’t a highly produced video. TikTok thrives on its authentic ‘shot with my smartphone’ video style. Think about this for your own videos: what can you create using just your phone that builds a genuine connection with your audience?

The audience

To boost those all-important engagement metrics, start with your comments section. Make sure you reply to comments and answer questions – this includes posting new videos in the comments section to answer questions raised by the original video!

Have a look at Down to Earth Beauty, a business selling body and skincare products. This account frequently answers questions that people have left in the comments by posting new videos in response. In this example, they’re answering a question about a product sample:

@dtebeauty

Replying to @.♾️🌈 last chance to get our Fall Collection sample box is this Saturday! 🫶 #bodybutter #asmr #smallbusiness #tiktokhalloween #pipingvideo #samples

♬ sprinkle of nostalgia – :0

The most crucial part of engaging and building an audience is, of course, consistency. Even if you have one or two videos that manage to go viral, this won’t have a long-term impact on your business unless you’re regularly posting new content.

Finally, collaboration with other businesses or influencers is a powerful way to get your content in front of new audiences. Look for complementary accounts in your sector, and agree to share each other’s content – or even collaborate on making some videos together!

 

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