5 Powerful Ways to Create Viral TikTok Videos
While a few months ago, most people were debating whether the app will survive and if it’s relevant for modern marketers, by now, most people discovered the massive potential behind the Chinese video app.
Throughout the past months, millions of new users joined the platform, either out of boredom in quarantine, or to finally give it a try and use the tremendous power of the app for marketing purposes.
While 25.8% of U.S. users are aged between 18–24 years and a further 25% are aged 25–34, the popularity of the app is actually growing among various age groups and demographics, and that’s what makes it so interesting for businesses and marketers across the globe.
Despite the tremendous growth of the app, growing your account organically is still relatively easy compared to other social networks such as Instagram. If you have a clear message, persevere for long enough, and apply strategies that are proven to work, the odds of going viral and reaching masses are still pretty big.
The TikTok Algorithm
Just like any social network, TikTok doesn’t fully reveal how their algorithm works. Yet, here’s what some major influencers and platform experts assume based on their experience:
Experts believe there are certain stages each video on TikTok needs to pass to get massive exposure. Through passing specific milestones (e.g., a certain watch time), you increase the chance of your video being exposed to a broader audience through the For You page (which is essentially the Discover Page of TikTok). And as making it on the For You page is the most effective and powerful way to grow your audience quickly, it’s what you should continuously aim for.
You can, of course, also grow by consistently publishing content and reaching a few targeted users per day, yet, exponential growth is still relatively easy and doable on TikTok and having a significant base of followers is almost always beneficial.
TikTok experts assume that the watch time (how long users watch your video and whether they finish watching the whole video) is the primary indicator of success on the platform.
It’s assumed that there are three key segments regarding watch time: three seconds, five seconds, and ten seconds.
If most people only watch the first three seconds or even less of your video, the algorithm assumes that your content isn’t relevant or good and only shows it to a small circle of users.
If the majority watches your video beyond the first five seconds, TikTok assumes your video is relevant and promotes it to more people to see whether these also enjoy the content or not.
And if a lot of users are watching up to ten seconds of your video or even more, the algorithm rewards you with massive exposure through the For You page and promotes your video across the platform.
Long story short: the longer you can retain the audience, the happier the TikTok algorithm, and the more exposure for you.
Just like any other social network, the goal of TikTok is to keep the user on the app for as long as possible. And if your content helps to achieve that goal, you’ll be rewarded. If your videos, however, only get a short watch time, and most people don’t consume your content until the end, your reach will be cut.
1. Start With a Problem, End With a Solution
Even though TikTok is growing at a rapid pace across various age groups and demographics, the best performing content is still generic. Instead of producing niche content, focus on delivering value to the broad mass by addressing everyday issues we all go through.
On social media, storytelling is key, and TikTok particularly supports creative storylines.
No matter if you’re using TikTok just for fun, to build your personal brand, or to promote your business, you can always address issues that affect the broad mass and thus resonate with lots of people.
By addressing a common problem in the first seconds of your video, you catch attention and spark the curiosity of the users. That’s a helpful strategy to make it through the first three seconds (remember the three stages we discussed above) and thus get your work exposed to more users on the platform.
After delivering engaging and/or valuable content in the middle of your video, the end should be dedicated to solving the problem you initially addressed.
2. Go for Short Videos
The maximum length of a TikTok video is 60 seconds. However, most viral posts are way shorter. 60 seconds might seem short if you’re used to lengthy content, but it’s actually more than enough to tell a compelling story, catch attention, deliver value, and gain fans.
Just because the maximum is 60 seconds, doesn’t mean you should post long videos. Instead, go for 20–30 seconds, deliver massive value, try to increase the watch time, and the rewatch rate of your videos.
Hardly anyone watches a 60-second video over and over again. If your video is, however, only 20 seconds and funny, engaging, or valuable, people might watch it again or even share it with their friends.
Similar to the watch time, the rewatch rate of your videos (if somebody started watching your video again after watching it for the first time) is an essential indicator for TikTok’s algorithm.
You can always edit your videos after shooting them inside the app. So, whenever you end up with a 60-second clip, ask yourself whether you could shorten it by cutting off irrelevant parts.
3. Catch the Attention
The average human attention span on social media is eight seconds, and on TikTok, the number is probably even lower.
That’s why the first few seconds of your video essentially make or break your TikTok success. If you grab the attention of a user right at the beginning, they’ll watch through your video. If your first two seconds suck, you’ll lose them forever.
People are scrolling through the For You page at high speed, and if the beginning of your video is boring, of low quality, or simply not engaging, nobody will make time to watch it. They’ll just keep scrolling until they find interesting content.
Whenever possible, start your videos with a big bang: include a weird moment, ask a provocative question, spark curiosity for the content you’ll provide.
The power you have as a creator on TikTok is that users can’t rewind once they start watching a video. So, once you catch somebody’s attention and they want to see the beginning of your video again, they’ll need to watch the whole piece, which is a massive gain for you because it indicates that your content is relevant and of high quality and the algorithm rewards you with more exposure.
4. Go for In-App Content Creation
While most new users struggle to find their way on the platform, content creation on TikTok is actually really simple. The app provides you with tons of tools you can use so that you don’t need any video editing experience or tools in order to create fascinating videos.
TikTok wants content creation to look effortless, that’s why they push native content that was produced without the use of expensive cameras or videography tools.
So, instead of using a digital camera, and spending hours editing your videos, invest a few minutes into learning how to create native content within the app and use your smartphone instead of expensive tools.
5. Ask Your Audience to Engage
People on social media often do what you ask them to do. If you deliver good content, you can ask your audience to like, comment, or even share your videos, and they’ll probably do you a favor.
It’s surprising how much power a subtle call to action can have, and as long as it works, you should go for it: ask questions, let your audience vote, create giveaways to reward active fans or think of other creative ways for building a strong relationship with your audience.
Along with the watch time and rewatch rate, the engagement rate of your videos also matters for virality: the more people like, comment, and share your videos, the higher your chance of being featured on the For You page and reaching the masses.
Last but Not Least, Be Authentic and Have Fun
Even if managing social media is your job and you’re on TikTok to create measurable results, don’t forget that it’s all about people.
Even the best strategy won’t work if people can’t relate to your personality or business. In the end, we’re all humans, and we want to connect with other human beings. People will quickly know if you’re having fun while creating content on a platform or if you’re just forcing yourself for the sake of gaining a few more followers.
TikTok is currently experiencing a massive boom, and if you want to build an audience (particularly one that is aged between 16–30 years), it’s an enormous opportunity to jump in.
However, life is too short to do anything that doesn’t fulfill you. Give it a try, experiment with different content styles, and find out whether you enjoy being on the platform or not. If you don’t enjoy the content creation process, the odds are high that you won’t hit viral posts anyway because passion is a massive driver for success in anything we do in life.