Going viral on TikTok can be a challenging but rewarding experience. With over 1 billion monthly active users and millions of videos uploaded daily, it can take a lot of work to stand out on the platform. However, it is possible — and on TikTok, even small accounts have been known to go mega-viral.
Here are 11 tips to help you increase your chances of going viral on the platform.
How to go viral on TikTok
Like most social media algorithms, TikTok serves content to its users based on posts they’ve interacted with previously. This applies to videos you see in both your “Following” feed and on your “For You” page (FYP).
The real question is, how does TikTok decide which videos end up on our FYPs?
According to TikTok, the algorithm recommends content based on videos that you’ve interacted with (watched, liked, shared, commented on), who you follow, what content you create, and your account demographics, as well as what’s in the video itself (captions, sounds, hashtags). TikTok then serves a mix of similar content from both accounts you follow and don’t follow.
In order to go viral, your video has to pass a crucial informal “test.” The app serves your video to a small group of users that TikTok believes is a representative sample based on your video’s contents (title, hashtags, captions, sound). If it performs well with that sample of users in views and engagement, TikTok may show it to a larger audience.
We don’t know how long this test takes — it can happen hours, days, or weeks after you first hit publish.
Does follower count or past performance matter?
The TikTok algorithm doesn’t factor in a TikTok user’s follower count or prior engagement numbers. You’re as likely to see posts from someone with a few million followers as from a brand-new user.
And what’s all this about heating?
There’s one more way for videos to go viral on TikTok. Some videos are hand-picked by TikTok employees to get a certain number of views, also known as heating.
“Heated” videos reportedly account for 1-2% of daily total views on TikTok, but so far heating has been reserved for influencers, celebrities, and brands that TikTok wishes to benefit.
Now, onto the good stuff. We’ve put together a list of tactics that will help your chances of going viral on TikTok, from filming to hashtags to editing.
1. Participate in trends
TikTok is known for its use of music and sound bites, and incorporating popular sounds into your content can help increase your chances of going viral. Using trending audio can be effective because it’s catchy (and increases view time), the viewer knows what to expect in your video, and users may discover your video through the audio’s search page.
Even if you’ve recorded your own audio for a video, we suggest adding a trending song as a background track to optimize your chances of going viral — you can adjust the track’s volume to be much lower than your speaking audio.
Note that brand accounts can access a more limited Commercial Music Library than creators and regular users. So, before jumping on an audio trend, check that your account can use it. Here are some extra tips on how to find business-friendly TikTok sounds.
Props to Delta for using a trending sound and making it relevant to their audience!
Hashtags and challenges are a big part of the TikTok experience, and using them can help increase the visibility of your content. Using relevant hashtags and participating in popular challenges can increase the chances that a wider audience will discover your content.
Some hashtag tips:
- Use a mix of high-use and niche hashtags, not just one, or the other
- Don’t use #FYP, #foryou, or other generic hashtags – they don’t work!
- Use 3-5 hashtags max.
Check out 7 more TikTok hashtag tips.
Making share-worthy content is one of the most critical factors in going viral on TikTok. What types of content are people compelled to share with their friends and followers? Here are a few tried-and-tested themes:
- Funny/entertaining. We all love tagging our friends in memes and sending funny videos to our group chats, right?
- Educational. #LearnOnTikTok is a popular hashtag for a reason, so teach people something! If it’s surprising or unique, chances are people will want to pass on the lesson.
- Inspirational. You can inspire people in many ways — by showing them how to fix a problem, how to improve their looks/health/life or something to add to their wishlist. If you can inspire someone enough to want to change their behavior or life in some way, they’re likely to share that with others.
Ah, the listicle: the oldest trick in the content marketing book. But hey, if you’re considering planning a trip to Canada, chances are you’ll share this with your travel companions!
4. Start with a hook and keep it short
As explained above, TikTok looks at average watch time as part of its algorithm. So, you need to catch a viewer’s attention in the first few seconds and give them a reason to watch as much of your video as possible. That’s why starting with a strong hook is essential.
Although TikTok has gradually increased the length of videos, generally, shorter is better. However, if you want to record a longer-form video, tell a story and follow a cohesive format.
Pro tip: To identify which of your hooks are working, check your TikTok analytics to see which videos have the highest average watch time.
5. Engage with your audience
Interacting with your audience is vital to building a following on TikTok. Respond to comments and messages on your videos, and engage with content within your niche (such as videos using the same hashtags as yours). Doing this can help build a community around your content and encourage people to share your videos with their followers.
Not only does Morning Brew make consistently funny content, but they’re also great at replying to comments. Sometimes their replies are even funnier than the videos themselves.
6. Become good at editing
TikTok is a visual platform, and becoming proficient at video editing can help make your content more attention-grabbing. Editing can be anything from adding captions and stickers to leveling up your skills in video transitions and special effects.
For editing your TikTok videos, we suggest using TikTok’s in-app editing tools or third-party apps. Study the transitions and trends that popular creators in your niche use. It can be challenging at first, but the more you practice editing for TikTok, the easier it’ll become.
This example from National Geographic shows fast cuts between different shots, angles, and zooms, keeping you engaged until the end. (I’m sure having Chris Hemsworth in it only contributed to some of the virality.)
7. Collaborate with other creators or brands
Collaborating with other accounts can be a great way to increase your reach on TikTok. By teaming up with other accounts, you both get exposure to each other’s followers and reach new viewers that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Before proposing partnerships, research the feeds of potential collaborators. What can you teach their audience that would be interesting and complementary to the creator or brand’s usual content? Make sure to include that in your pitch or DM.
Pro tip: Reach out to creators/brands with similar-sized (or slightly larger) followings as yourself. It’ll be less intimidating and more mutually beneficial.
Skincare brand CeraVe often collaborates with popular dermatologists, making sure to tag them in the caption to ensure exposure for both accounts.
8. Post consistently
In some ways, achieving virality is a numbers game. The more you post, the more you’re likely to gain followers and the more chances you have to get a viral hit.
We know how hard it can be to overcome the mental obstacle of hitting “publish.” The best way around this is to establish a habit of posting consistently and use tools (like Hootsuite!) to plan and schedule your content. You can also check out our research on the best times to post on TikTok.
Reply to @tiktokforbusiness social media managers 🤝 hootsuite
While TikTok is an excellent platform for going viral, there are other places to share your content. Promoting your TikTok videos on other social media platforms can increase your reach and bring in new followers. Think of how popular sharing Twitter screenshots has become on Instagram and LinkedIn.
Want to avoid annoying people who follow you on multiple platforms? We have just the guide for you: how to cross-post content without looking spammy.
10. Weave in opportunities for comments
Remember how having a high engagement rate can signal TikTok to share your video on more FYPs? You can help drive that engagement rate by strategically leaving “comment bait” throughout your video.
Here are some ideas:
- Have a strong call-to-action at the end. Try “hit the plus button for more content like this,” “comment with what I should show in my next video,” etc.
- Leave some questions unanswered. Don’t be overly confusing or vague, but instead of answering all questions in your video, leave some to be asked and answered in the comments.
- Leave in random details or hiccups. Don’t edit out quirks or mistakes! People love to comment on random things, and it feels more genuine.
This creator includes a consistent call to action—“follow for more small space living tips”—at the end of many of her videos, including this viral one.
11. Be authentic and genuine
People are more likely to engage with and share content that comes across as genuine and authentic. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and be yourself in your videos. Let this guide your content, too – people are likelier to watch and share videos from creators and brands that show passion in their content.
Moreover, our final tip for going viral on TikTok is to have fun and enjoy the process. TikTok is a platform where creativity and self-expression thrive, and the more fun you have creating content, the more likely it is to resonate with your audience.
Remember, going viral is not guaranteed, but with the right strategy and a bit of luck, you can succeed on the platform. Following these tips will help increase your chances of creating share-worthy content and going viral on TikTok.
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With files from Tres Dean.