TikTok is a video and social media app that started as a simple lip-syncing app.
Since its global launch in 2017, it has evolved into a full-fledged social media platform with millions of users.
The number of TikTok users and content is increasing every day.
And, as you’d expect from one of the most popular apps around the globe, trends are moving FAST.
Frankly, if you’re not on the cutting edge, then you’re probably already behind the times.
Viral trends on TikTok have been introduced and then beaten to death faster than the length of some YouTube ads.
There’s a tsunami of content happening on TikTok, and it’s easy to get swept away.
But like anything, where there’s a massive audience, there are a million ways to make your mark.
Read on for our complete guide to TikTok, tips and tricks for gaining followers, and video ideas for when the well is running dry.
What is TikTok and How Does it Work?
By now, you likely are at least a little familiar with TikTok. But if you’re just starting on the app (or maybe just want to know more information about the whole phenomenon), this is for you.
TikTok is a video-sharing social media app available on Android and iOS devices. Technically, you can also use TikTok on a desktop, but it was designed to be used in app form.
The app was created by ByteDance, a Chinese company that also owns the popular news aggregator Jinri Toutiao. It officially launched outside of China in 2017.
TikTok has been downloaded over 500 million times and has over 150 million monthly active users. It has become popular because of its easy-to-use interface, variety of filters, and ability to provide entertainment for all ages.
Users can create a video by selecting one of many filters, adding music from their library or TikTok’s, adding text to their video, and sharing it with their followers.
Brands looking to reach a younger audience have started using TikTok to market their products and services. Companies create short videos that showcase their products or services to promote their brand.
TikTok for Business allows brands to get creative and reach new audiences without going through traditional advertising channels.
As a result, it has become the perfect tool for companies to reach new customers and engage their fans.
Understanding TikTok’s Algorithm
While TikTok’s basic premise isn’t anything revolutionary (long live Vine!), what has made it such a world-shaking success is its remarkable algorithm. Users have consistently reported TikTok serving them content that was almost spookily tailor-made for them.
I’ve experienced this phenomenon as well—and no, I’m not saying what the video was. But whereas many algorithms seem to serve users things based on broad categories, TikTok thrives in niches.
Think of it this way. YouTube might note that you seem to enjoy cat videos. TikTok will have you down as liking videos where Scottish Fold Cats walk in time to house beats.
The algorithm is so good that TikTok has had to make changes to keep people from seeing the exact same kind of content over and over, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The exact parameters of TikTok’s algorithm aren’t public knowledge, but we can assume they track pretty much every move you make in the app. This includes the usual suspects (likes, comments, shares) along with more nuanced things like how long you watched a video and when exactly you clicked like or swiped away.
All this to say, TikTok is a content machine that excels at getting the content people like to them. So, what does that mean for you?
Finding Your Place in a Crowded Market
It can be hard to break into TikTok because so many people are trying to do the same thing as you.
On a basic level, the best way to stand out on TikTok is by being creative with your content, having fun with it, and putting your personal touch on it.
Before you get started, focus on your branding. This applies to both individuals and companies using TikTok. Don’t try to be all things to all people here. And this is where TikTok’s algorithm really makes things exciting.
In fact, when you get down to it, the name of the game is niche content. In 2022, TikTok’s algorithm is only getting smarter, so you’re more likely to have a video connect with someone who relates to it.
Of course, there is a level where you may be getting a little too niche, but that’s a more challenging place to get to than you’d think.
These are some practical tips for getting your videos noticed:
- Use hashtags: Hashtags make your content visible to other users who might be interested in it. It can also help you find other related content.
- Be original: If you want people to notice your video, it needs to be different from what everyone else posts on TikTok. Stay away from trends that are too trendy.
- Be consistent: The best way to gain more followers on TikTok is by posting consistently and frequently. But make sure that each post is unique.
What Makes a Great TikTok Video?
There’s no one recipe for a great video on TikTok. Spend five minutes on your homepage, and you’ll see a massive variety of highly successful videos. TikTok itself breaks its rating of videos down as “user value,” “long-term user value,” “creator value,” and “platform value.”
Those are pretty cryptic metrics that aren’t especially helpful from the creator’s perspective. So, if you want to make engaging videos, you should focus on your audience. As long as you create content they like, you’ll keep growing your following.
Think of your audience in two parts—existing followers and first-time viewers.
You need to appeal to both demographics with your content. Luckily, since TikToks are fast and inexpensive to make, you can divide your videos between these two areas.
For your followers:
- Assume they’re already invested in what you’re talking about
- Assume they have some background knowledge of what you’re talking about
- Use their comments and feedback to make the content they want
For the masses
- Think basic, attention-grabbing, and a little flashy
- Put your content into the context of popular trends (sync it to trending sounds or do a challenge)
- Make your branding clear, so they know who you are and what you’re all about
If you focus too much on either demographic, your audience won’t grow, or they won’t stick around!
TikTok Video Ideas
With a lot of content creation, you’re trying to make your content accessible to the largest number of people possible. With TikTok, you need to think more focused and niche.
In other words, find your lane and stick to it! Your lane can be as specific as you like. Remember, we’re not thinking cat videos; we’re thinking “Scottish Fold Cats walk in time to house beats” videos.
TikTok videos are short-form, visual storytelling. To create a TikTok video, you need to have a clear message and an exciting topic to discuss.
These kinds of videos are evergreen. People love to learn about what interests them. This is also a chance to show you know what you’re talking about.
Then encourage people to post their results and respond to them! This will boost your engagement and make your audience feel more connected with you.
Use New Features!
We’ve already said you don’t have to jump on every new challenge that comes around. But be on the lookout for new features!
Last year we got Q&A, live streaming, and a whole other slew of new ways to interact with viewers. And it’s not likely TikTok is going to slow down. So if you ever feel your content is getting stale, it might be time to check out the different features TikTok offers!
This is a form of catharsis more than anything else. Are you sick of a certain kind of video? Have you seen people lip-syncing a few hundred too many times? It’s satire time!
Make a parody video that subverts the audience’s expectations. Just make sure you’re not being mean-spirited. Nasty isn’t a good look.
Parody can be anything from subverting expectations to playing up the more ridiculous side of the trend.
Never underestimate the power of a crossover episode, so reach out to fellow creators for collaborations! You both benefit from the other’s audience, and creative synergy is real.
TikTok is a social app. And the social part applies both on and offline. So ask your IRL friends to hop on your content as well to give some extra energy to your videos.
Conclusion: Start Making Videos On TikTok Today and Get More Likes & Followers!
To put all this advice simply, create quality, engaging, and specific content. Then, post enough of it that you can find your audience. Be consistent—the more you post, the faster your following will grow. And last but not least, don’t forget to have fun with it!