Going viral on TikTok isn’t just for dancing teens anymore. The platform has emerged as one of the most vibrant social media communities of today. It’s also one that makes going viral accessible in a way that few other social media networks do.

Anyone can blow up on TikTok, whether they have 2 followers or 200K. It’s not by accident. The app’s algorithm provides an equal opportunity to all users to go viral and build an audience over time. It’s the rare social media meritocracy.

Still, just because TikTok provides a level playing field for its users doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to push a video closer to virality.

Keep reading to find out how to set your TikToks up for viral success.

Bonus: Use our free TikTok engagement rate calculator to find out your engagement rate 4 ways fast. Calculate it on a post-by-post basis or for an entire campaign — for any social network.

How does content go viral on TikTok?

Like any social media algorithm, TikTok curates content for its users by recommending videos similar to the ones they’ve already engaged with.

The platform’s recommendation system looks at the videos users have watched, liked, shared, and commented on, and breaks down attributes like video content, text used in the video, and background music. It then goes on to serve them similar content from TikTok users they may not already follow. This goes down on the FYP (or For You page) feed.

Think of it as good old-fashioned channel surfing, only you have a different cable package every time you turn on the TV.

One thing the TikTok algorithm doesn’t factor in is a TikTok profile’s follower count or prior engagement numbers. You’re as likely to see a post with a few million views as you are a video from a brand new user.

Additionally, every single video on TikTok gets the opportunity to go viral through the For You page. When you post a video, the app surfaces it on a small curated group of users’ FYP. Depending on its performance there, it may then get boosted to a larger audience.

Not every video is going to land this way, but this function of the TikTok algorithm gives every upload the chance to make an impact.

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How to go viral on TikTok: 9 tips

Despite being a generally democratic system, there are still ways to create content primed to go viral on TikTok. In fact, the best ways to make a post blow up on the app often simply involve engaging with the TikTok community in an authentic way.

1. Understand trends

It’s easy to see why TikTok first took off with a younger audience. It’s aggressively trend-driven, pushing memes and video formats into the spotlight. The next big thing may take over just a few days later, but every meme has its moment.

You don’t have to look far to find a trend to jump on. In fact, there’s probably one on your For You page as we speak.

Often TikTok trends function sort of like Mad Libs. There will be a piece of trending audio, a dance, a text-based format that users apply their own spin to. They can stick around for months, but often it’s more like days. They come and go quickly, but when they’re popular, they’re a great way to get your content in front of more users.

Because of the nature of the algorithm, the more users engage with a trend, the more the app promotes videos that play into it. As such, step one to going viral on TikTok? You guessed it: keep an eye on those trends. The more up to date you stay on day-to-day content trends on TikTok, the easier it will be to create relevant and timely content.

Sponge producer Scrub Daddy, for example, wouldn’t be able to go viral with their timely spin on the adorable bones/no bones day trend if they didn’t watch for new trends very. closely.

@scrubdaddyIt can’t always be a bones day… ##scrubdaddy ##smile ##cleantok ##americasfavoritesponge ##cleaningtiktok♬ CeeLo Green void _ C major – that redacted guy

2. Use humor

Comedy is a big part of any social media network, but it’s the primary currency of TikTok. From lifestyle vlogging to gym inspiration videos, humor unites them all.

Every TikTok community gives people an excuse to show off their sense of humor, even the more serious ones (see the example below from Turbotax). Your videos shouldn’t be any different.

@turbotaxThere are only a few days left — we are once again asking you to file your ##taxes and get that ##RefundGlowUp!♬ baby fufu – Official Sound Studio

Humor keeps users engaged and more likely to watch a video all the way through. If they find that you have a similar sense of humor to theirs, they might even keep up with your videos long-term.

You don’t have to be the next breakout SNL star to make people laugh on TikTok. As corny as it may sound, they’re going to respond best to you being yourself.

3. Hashtags are your friend

Hashtags are one of the TikTok algorithm’s ranking signals. This means that including hashtags in your video description makes it easy for the algorithm to put it in front of the audience that will respond to it.

Showing off a new makeup haul? Throw #makeup and #MUA in there. Creating content related to a trending show? Throw in a topical hashtag (like #SquidGame) to help TikTok recommend your videos to fans.

Hashtag page for #SquidGame on TikTok

Avoid only using generic hashtags like #FYP. Doing so means you won’t have to compete with the millions of other videos catering to the same hashtag.

As far as quantity goes, anywhere from three to five hashtags per post is usually more than enough to get the recommendation system on the right track. Using too many is likely to lead to the algorithm not knowing who to show your content to.

4. Keep it short

Yes, TikTok has a few different video length limits: 15 seconds, 60 seconds, and 3 minutes. Nothing is stopping you from taking up the full 180 seconds.

Still, brevity is the soul of wit (Shakespeare said this, so you know it’s true). And when you look at the app TikTok most successfully emulates, it isn’t YouTube. It’s the beloved but defunct Vine, which capped video length at a whopping six seconds. That might not seem like much, but think about some of the best Vines of all time. Would any of them be better if they were longer? Probably not.

A short video doesn’t give the viewer enough time to lose interest. It does give them even more time to circle back and rewatch it when that autoplay feature kicks in. Short videos tend to garner higher viewership numbers and engagement for this reason.

There’s also a good chance that by keeping your video’s running time on the lower side, you’re not only savvily upping your viewership numbers. You’re also improving the creative quality of your content.

5. Encourage interaction

The difference between a video platform and a social network is interactivity.

TikTok isn’t just a place to post videos. It’s also a place to engage with a community over the content it creates. There’s a comment section for a reason, you know? Plus, with the Duet and Stitch features, it’s possible to collaborate on videos with complete strangers who live on the other side of the planet.

TikTok’s algorithm works in a way that rewards all forms of community interaction — so make sure your content encourages it. Ask users to sound off in the comments section. Provide a prompt from which people can Stitch or Duet a response video of their own. Make the sort of videos people feel compelled to share via other social media platforms like Instagram. It all makes the algorithm look upon your videos a bit more favorably.

@chezaidanstich this if your dare 😂 #fyp #stitchthis♬ original sound – Aidan Wachter

6. Understand your audience

There’s a lot going on these days on TikTok. It’s home to countless communities that build around everything from fitness to emo music. These communities support their own in a big way.

While you’re not obligated to stick to one subject, it helps to focus on one specific area of expertise or interest. The more your content appears in a specific community, the easier it is to build up a following. This can then lead to more views from a core audience and improve the video’s performance on the For You page.

Understanding your audience will also help you find the best times to post on TikTok. And while pinning down the best time to post won’t necessarily make you go viral overnight, it can definitely help get your content in front of more people — and that’s a great starting point.

7. Use TikTok’s tools

TikTok’s video editing tools don’t begin and end with your camera. The app is home to a massive archive of popular music and audio clips. Users have access to a fun lineup of video effects as well. You don’t need a film degree to make great videos on this app. The platform provides you with all the tools you need.

TikTok sounds discovery page

This pays off in two ways. For one thing, a unique and recognizable style of video production can help in building an audience. Additionally, using trending sounds and filters works in your favor. The algorithm will be more likely to show your videos to users who have already engaged with those original sounds and filters.

8. Be (tastefully) controversial

A great way to drive engagement on any platform? Say something that will make people so involved (or irritated, or amused) they won’t have a choice but to respond.

@chipotleThe world needed a part 3 (@a.i.nsley @harley.420 @emmymagers @dcook.04 @nataliegrillo @ginajablonski) #chipotle #boomers #funny #viral♬ original sound – Chipotle

We’re certainly not saying you need to cross hard lines. Courting controversy can be as simple as saying you didn’t like the latest Drake album or critically acclaimed superhero movie.

Hot takes are one of the driving forces behind social media today, and TikTok is no different in that respect. They can generate substantial engagement for your TikTok account — even if that engagement might get a little heated.

9. Walk away

TikTok wants your attention. If you stay off of it after posting a video, it’s going to try to get you to come back. It does that by trying to generate notifications, and the easiest way for it to do that is to put your video in front of more people. As much as you may want to watch your views count rise in real-time, the best thing you can do after posting a video is close TikTok for a little while. You’ll be far more likely to come back to a flood of views, comments, and shares.

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