There’s no doubt that TikTok is the future (and present) of social media. It gives all creators a chance to grow organically and build a network of loyal fans and followers. Since nearly anybody can go viral on TikTok, it’s a no-brainer that brands should hop on the trend and create a TikTok presence.
As a marketing agency, our goal is to steer our clients in the right direction and build them a TikTok strategy that will help them gain visibility, and ultimately, increase conversions. Since we are able to effectively do this with email, advertising, and other organic social media channels, the next step is to master TikTok. But it’s not as easy as it might sound.
All TikTok creators have the same burning question…how does one grow on TikTok? Is there a magic formula for success, or do some creators just get lucky?
Spoiler alert: we do not have a magic formula for you. We don’t think there will ever be one. There are several accounts on the app that claim to know *exactly* what works…but they tend to have different opinions. And on top of that, the algorithm is constantly changing.
We decided to take all the information out there and put it to the test. We tried out different “strategies” and “best practices” with our agency account (shameless plug: @piratelabsagency), and here’s what we learned.
TikTok Knows A LOT About You
As creepy as it sounds, TikTok is watching your every move. The app is constantly gathering data on its users in order to keep the platform as engaging as possible. It’s called the For YOU Page for a reason. TikTok gathers data on what you view (and for how long), who you follow, what you like, what you post, what you comment, and more. Click here for a more comprehensive list of what does and doesn’t impact the FYP!
Our biggest piece of advice for scrolling through TikTok as either a business or content creator is to engage with everything in your niche. This way, your videos will be shown to accounts with similar interests. Plus, engaging in the comment section will drive more users to your profile!
Text Is King
One thing we know for sure is that TikTok tries to learn as much as it can about your video as soon as it’s uploaded. TikTok gathers this data to a) make sure your video is appropriate and within the community guidelines, and b) share it with an audience that would find it interesting or engaging. Text is one of the easiest ways to tell TikTok exactly what your video is about. This includes text everywhere: text overlay on the video, closed captions, written captions, and hashtags. If you go out of your way to make sure TikTok knows your video is about marketing, TikTok is going to share it with a specific audience of people who have previously demonstrated interest in marketing.
With this said, you do not want to overstuff your video with keywords so that it takes away from the central point or humor of the video. We recommend having the topic reflected at least once in text– wherever it makes the most sense. If it doesn’t organically fit into the video or caption, add it as a hashtag!
Speaking of Hashtags…
There’s the ongoing debate about whether or not the for you page related hashtags are effective. People constantly utilize the hashtags #foryou, #fyp, and #foryoupage in hopes of reaching broader audiences, but nobody has ever been able to determine the true effectiveness of these hashtags. After testing out videos with and without these hashtags, here is what we think:
Using #fyp doesn’t hurt…but it doesn’t necessarily help. We saw no extra success when utilizing these hashtags, but we also don’t believe that they stifled the growth of our videos either. This strategy is worth a shot, but we wouldn’t necessarily consider it a best practice.
What matters most is including hashtags that are specific to the video content. Whether or not you choose to include a trending hashtag or a for you page hashtag, it’s imperative to have at least one hashtag on the video reflecting the niche or target audience. We typically use 3 or 4.
In our experiment, we also tested posting without hashtags. Some of these videos performed well, but others didn’t get as many views as we would have liked. We recommend always using hashtags with TikTok.
Do You ACTUALLY Need to Post 5+ Videos a Day?
Lately, it’s been rumored on TikTok that if you post a certain number of times per day, your account is guaranteed to see exponential growth. Some say 3, some say 5, some say up to 7. Let’s clear one thing up: you should never sacrifice the quality of your video just to meet “quota”.
We spent one week hustling to post 3 videos per day, and though our videos did get more views and our follower count increased, we did not find this to be a sustainable practice for our agency. We found ourselves struggling to come up with so many new ideas per week and posting videos that we were not entirely proud of. As expected, the less engaging videos did not perform as well as the others. We have now narrowed down our strategy to 1 or 2 videos per day, and we are seeing more consistent engagement and viewership. Though our follower count is not growing as quickly, we are proud of our content and feel that we are serving our niche.
All in all…does frequent posting speed up your account growth? Absolutely! But we do not believe there’s a magic number. If you are able to share 7 unique and high quality videos each day, we most certainly wouldn’t stop you. But if 1 makes more sense for your business, that is also totally fine. The most important thing is consistency– it’s better to post 1 video per day for a week than to post 7 videos in a row then ghost your followers for a week. You’ve just gotta start creating and see what cadence works for you!
It’s All About The Trends
Trends come and go every single day on TikTok. TikTok trends are mostly based on the audio used, but oftentimes there is a concept (such as a dance, effect, or type of joke) associated with it. When an audio is trending on TikTok, since users like to engage with it, TikTok tends to push them further on the FYP.
We tested videos with newer or smaller trends, peak trends, and older trends. Though we saw a range of views and likes in all of these categories, the peak trends mostly performed best. If you’re not sure how to determine which trends are performing best, there are tons of accounts on the app that will do the research and share their results with you. We really like @trendbible!
Overall Takeaways & Advice to Follow
- Engage with accounts sharing similar content to yours.
- Like and comment on all videos on your FYP that fit within your niche.
- Include as much text as possible.
- Always include niche hashtags.
- Use trending audios and effects whenever possible.
- Hook your audience in the first 3 seconds of your video.
- Post high quality video content.
- Keep your videos short (ideally 7-15 seconds).
- Make your video accessible with features such as closed captions.
- Maintain a consistent posting cadence.
- Find your niche and stick to it.
- Always test out new features.