How to Grow on TikTok (And How I Went Viral… 4 Times)
TikTok is here and it's the next big social media trend. I don't say this lightly! The last time I made that declaration was when Instagram started trending years ago. And you should definitely hop on the bandwagon and learn to grow your TikTok account right now.
What I love so much about TikTok, aside from the endless entertainment, is the ease of going viral and growing your account. It's not about having Hollywood quality videos or even having a lot of followers. If you want to grow your TikTok (and you really should) then I'm going to map out some best practices.
It's safe to say I'm addicted to the app. It's easy to quickly get the hang of TikTok, the videos are creative, funny, and there's enormous potential for anyone.
Instagram has become increasingly frustrating for users with the algorithm and the removal of the chronological feed. Having an outlet like TikTok where there doesn't seem to be as many “rules,” at least right now, is a breath of fresh air. Anyone can grow their TikTok following and can go viral especially when you follow these best practices I'm going to lay out.
Take me, for example, I went from posting just a few videos and over the past month I've created videos that reached millions of people and doubled my following in the span of a few days. I was casually posting once a month or so to now posting regularly and am seeing my followers and views increase. And the best part? ANYONE can do this!
I want to show you how you can grow your following and go viral. I promise, it's easier than you think.
UPDATE as of February 2021: Since writing this post I have gained an additional 80,000 followers and my views have been over 20 million! TikTok is truly an incredible platform where anyone can go viral!
Why Tik Tok?
TikTok has grown to be one of the most widely used apps across the globe. The are over 800 million active users, it's been downloaded over a billion times, and it seems to be growing daily. Especially now during the interesting time we're in with quarantine, many people are at home and are turning to TikTok.
When I first downloaded TikTok in December 2019 I didn't really get it. I posted a little video of me going to Home Goods and then decorating a Christmas tree. It got a couple hundred views. Fast forward to a few months later and I posted a video of some sheep running in Iceland, BAM, over 1 million views and counting. And that's not even close to my most viral post to date.
At the time I had a couple thousand followers. What this tells me, and should tell you, is that you don't need a huge following to grow or get millions of views. The “For You” page or feed is a mix of videos and the algorithm shows you videos that it thinks you'll like.
The best reason to get on TikTok is the ability to grow your account, even overnight, by posting nearly anything. I posted a video doing a TikTok dance trend and also told a story within the video. Within 24 hours the video was seen over 3 million times! And at the time I had less than 6,000 followers. Now, a few days later and my account has doubled in size.
You don't have to have thousands of followers to get on the “For You” page and be seen by hundreds of thousands or even millions.
How does the TikTok Algorithm Work?
Much like the Instagram algorithm, TikTok wants to keep you on the app. There are two places to watch videos: the Home page where it says “For You” which is a mix of videos TikTok thinks you'll like based on the algorithm, and then the “Following” page where it has videos of posts from people you follow.
The Basics of a Good TikTok Account
Just like with other social media it's a good idea to fill out your profile. Have a clear profile picture and fill out your Bio. Your Bio can be up to 80 characters so keep it short and sweet. Don't forget to link to your Instagram and Youtube, another great way to grow your following there. It's a great idea to include a call to action on your bio. I also recommend adding a link, like I did to my website. Here's what mine looks like:
Make sure your videos are easy to see/understand. Good lighting is a good idea in general but don't stress about it.
The main way the TikTok algorithm works is that it shows you videos it thinks you'll like based on what you watch (your completion rate to watch a video), what you interact with (like and comment on), and who you follow. If you watch a lot of dog videos all the way through and like those videos, it will start to show you those more. It will also show you popular or trending videos as well.
So as you start to grow your account it's important to keep these things in mind: if you want people to watch your videos and follow you make sure you have your bio filled out and make people want to watch your videos all the way through, or maybe even a second time!
How to Go Viral on TikTok and Grow Your Account
I'm going to break down some of the best ways to grow your TikTok account and how you can go viral – no matter the number of followers you have.
Follow the Trends
There are a lot of trends on TikTok. From dances to phrases to really everything in between. Some challenges are easy like recreating your favorite album cover or sharing your beauty haul. There are mini tutorials, dance challenges, or home DIYs. Really, it's like a snapshot of life, creativity, or a peek into your mind. What I love about TikTok is that the options are limitless.
A great way to find the trends is to check out the hashtags on the Discover page (second from the left after Home). Here you'll finding 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. TikTok is very communal. Meaning, it's fun to take your own spin on a trend. TikTok is an incredibly fast moving app, so checking the For You page is a great way to see what's currently trending.
A good rule of thumb is to give credit for choreographers (if you know who it is) when doing a dance or if using someone's joke. But if you're following a trend and have your own take on it, then everything is fair game to share.
Use trending songs to also gain attention. See what songs or hashtags top creators are using. If I like a song I always save it to “sounds” so I can have easy access later.
As I mentioned before, the discover page shows you the trending hashtags. Use relevant hashtags that relate to your video and the audience you want to target. For example, if you have a travel video, you can use generic hashtags like #travel #tiktoktravel or location hashtags like #paris and #france. But take it a step further and see what’s trending. I might use: #travelthrowback since it's a popular and currently trending hashtag. Or hashtags like #over30 relate to an older audience. I use that in a lot of my videos because I want to target that age group.
You can use a combination of broad and niche hashtags to capture attention.
There are also hashtag challenges (you'll see these on the Discover page) and you can participate in these challenges too!
Keep in mind your TikTok caption is limited to 100 characters. Meaning your caption plus the hashtags you use are a maximum of 100 characters total. So keep it short and catchy!
Use Trending Songs
The sounds and songs on TikTok are a great way to actually get discovered. Just like hashtags and videos trend, sounds do too. People will often click a sound and watch videos related to that sound.
For example, when I want to learn a dance, I click on the sound for the song and watch a few different videos using that sound. Also certain sounds are also featured on the For You page, so if you use it then you have a chance to be featured.
Make sure to save your favorites. To do this, just press and hold on the video and add to favorites videos. Or click on the song or sound and at the top, under the song name, you'll see a bookmark with “add to favorites.”
What I LOVE about TikTok is that I can post often and still grow my engagement. With Instagram, I recommend posting about once a day (and I tend to post less than that) because it seems like posting more doesn’t lend itself to engagement. It’s almost like you’re irritating your followers with too much content (personal opinion obviously, but that’s my take!)
With TikTok, posting more means that I can try out different trends or ideas I have. I might post a dance video, a travel video, or a story and see which my audience likes best. Often people delete videos on TikTok if they aren’t performing well. I have deleted a few videos but I tend to wait at least a few weeks because often TikTok will promote older content.
While TikTok analytics shows you when your followers are active, there is no overall best time. So you can upload videos throughout the day.
Be consistent and post at least weekly, if not daily, to grow your TikTok.
Share Original Content
If you can create interesting, meaningful, funny, or poignant content that you come up with on your own, that is the best way to grow your TikTok account.
Share something new, start your own trend, use a sound or song you created. The options are endless of course when it comes to creating original content. Make sure to make your videos engaging immediately so people keep on watching.
Try something different or not what you think you’d normally post. Again, another reason why I love TikTok. Some of my videos that do the best are the ones that I came up with on my own- not following a trend or hashtag, and they do well! So share content you find interesting and chances are your audience will too.
Be patient, things don’t always go viral overnight but trying new things helps you get the hang of TikTok.
Follow Top Creators
The top TikTok creator is a 16-year-old girl named Charli D’Amelio (@charlidamelio). She often posts dance videos and every video she shares is seen by millions of people. The sound she uses will go viral as well as the dances or trends she joins. It’s a good idea to follow top TikTok creators to see the trends and get ideas for yourself of what to post.
I also like to follow people that inspire me on the app. I follow friends, people I follow on Instagram, travel accounts, dance accounts, and more. Since I post a lot of travel content, I tend to interact with fellow travelers. Our audiences are similar and their audience is relevant to mine.
Engage With Others
Now that you’re following people on TikTok, make sure to interact with them. You can like and comment on their videos and react to their posts. TikTok offers the “duet” tool so you can react or duet videos you like. For example, you can react to a funny joke, duet a dance you like, or answer a question the user poses.
I also comment on videos on the “For You” page and some of my comments have gained tens of thousands of their own likes. When I make an interesting comment on a popular post this might lead others to clicking on my profile and interacting with me there!
You can also create videos together. Check out the #dontrushchallenge. Users “pass” each other a makeup brush and transform getting ready for the day.
Use TikTok Tools
TikTok has so many awesome options for creating content and editing your videos. There are effects like a Green Screen to show photos and videos on your camera roll, you can add filters, bling effect, clone yourself, and so much more. To find effects click on the bottom left where it says “effects” when shooting the video, or you can add some effects after you shoot the video.
Because you can start and stop videos you’ll see users magically transform or make cool transitions. You can learn these tricks too on TikTok and it will help you grow your account. Another tool to use is the TikTok “live” feature. Once you have 1,000 followers or more you can go live. This will send a notification to all your followers and increases your engagement.
Don’t forget to use TikTok analytics. TikTok offers you to move from a personal to 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.
Remember, you can share your TikTok videos on other platforms. TikTok makes it really easy to share your videos to Instagram stories or Facebook. This is a great way to encourage your followers there to follow you on TikTok. You can also grab your TikTok profile link by going to your profile, clicking the three dots on top and click on “Share Profile.”
Capture Attention Immediately
Just like with any video, you want to capture attention and the first five seconds are critical for this. Think of the first few seconds of the video as the headline to your story, if it's uninteresting people will keep on scrolling. That's why using popular sounds or songs is a good way to keep people on your video, they want to hear the whole thing as well as see it.
A good way to capture attention is by using text that people will make people keep watching. Such as “5 secret tips” or leave them wanting more, “can you really do this?”
Make Short Videos
With TikTok you can share videos up to a minute long. Typically, most videos are around 15 seconds. But even 7-10 second videos do well too if they are interesting.
With the TikTok Algorithm you want people to not only watch your videos, but watch them again and again. With shorter videos this is easier to accomplish. That's not to say you shouldn't post longer form content! Of course, if you have a juicy story and an engaged audience then a minute long video will do well.
Share Stories and Provide Value
I cannot reiterate this one enough! This is my top tip for actually growing your Tik Tok account. So when I first started and went viral I couldn't believe no one was following. But when I started sharing a story that intrigued people and they wanted to follow me! Just one video helped me gain about 6,000 followers (and it's continuing to grow!) because I shared a story.
If you can provide value you become a resource to others and they want to follow you. Some great TikTok accounts don't just show you products they love, they TELL you how to use them, I see fashion accounts showing how to style an outfit or travel accounts sharing how to get the best flight deals. TikToks showing how to redo a room or update a space are also very popular. There are also a lot of self help TikTok tips that show you how to grow your Instagram, TikTok, blog, or make money. Just watch out that these people actually know what they're doing!
As for sharing stories, this is my favorite way to grow your TikTok. You can tell a story in a funny way about your day. You can do this straight to the camera, with text, or any way you see fit. Keep it short and to the point and occasionally leave them wanting more or sharing in a part two. No matter what kind of story you share you want to elicit some kind of emotion from the audience, remember, you want to inspire someone.
Have fun with TikTok! It's such an engaging app and it's quickly become my go to obsession. Post regularly, engage with others, share stories, trends, and original content and in no time you'll grow your following and go viral on TikTok.
The great thing about the app is you CAN go viral overnight or even in a few hours. Don't take it too seriously and watch your followers and views increase.
You can follow me on TikTok here, @heleneinbetween.