In 30 seconds:
- Want your TikTok video to go viral? Wait no more. These are the top tips for viral video success on the app.
- Going viral on TikTok is great, but is it everything? We discuss how a long-term strategy is necessary to win on the social media channel.
- Understanding TikTok and your audience = a must. We’re talking about why and how you can do it, so your video content is always a hit.
Wondering how to go viral on TikTok? You’ve come to the right place.
In 2023, simply creating TikTok content and just waiting for those metrics to skyrocket won’t cut the mustard. You need to know the best tips to maximise your chances of viral success on TikTok and access the right audiences to boost your ROI on campaigns.
There are now over 1 billion TikTok users (over 80% of them are millennials or Gen Z). TikTok is clearly the platform of choice for younger people, with 69% of those we surveyed saying they’ve had an account and 34% claiming it’s the ‘platform they spend the most time on’. But just because they’re on there, it doesn’t mean they’ll watch your video. How do you avoid getting lost in the noise?
To achieve all your TikTok marketing goals, you need to know how to tap into your TikTok audience’s desires, use the TikTok algorithm to your advantage, and create content that truly moves the dial. We have the fundamental tips to help you do exactly that, so you can catapult your content into the spotlight.
But first, a caveat (hear us out). Going viral on TikTok isn’t everything.
Going viral on TikTok is good, but is it enough?
Picture this. You’ve achieved that viral status: your views are through the roof and your organic reach is skyrocketing. Your brand has finally gone viral on TikTok. But what if – shock, horror – that’s all that happens?
What if your views don’t translate into sales? Or what if, a few months on, that TikTok video sensation loses steam. What now?
To achieve genuine brand growth, going viral on TikTok isn’t enough. Marketers need to implement consistent, long-term TikTok marketing strategies to transform the full marketing funnel. Only then will you truly harness the power of TikTok.
Our recent event, My Brand Went Viral On TikTok – Now What? covered not only how to go viral on TikTok – but also how to maintain momentum so that TikTok can become a key revenue driver, over and over again.
To learn more, check out the top takeouts via the button below
How to go viral on TikTok in 2023: our top tips
Ok, you’re looking to achieve that boost in growth on TikTok. How can you do it effectively and without blowing your entire social media marketing budget? Luckily, you don’t necessarily need to move mountains to be a viral sensation on the social platform. You just need to follow some key tips, keep trying and most importantly, understand TikTok itself.
The TikTok algorithm is the backbone of the social media platform. This intuitive system promotes content to users through an “FYP” (For You Page), where relevant short videos appear based on each individual TikToker’s interests.
Want to find out more about how the algorithm works? Check out our article: Understanding The TikTok Algorithm: How it Works & How to Use it.
So, how can it help you go viral? These effective tips will help you work with the algorithm to skyrocket your visibility.
Tip 1: Dive into TikTok’s content communities
Think about your ideal audience. And we mean – really – think about them. What type of content do they watch on TikTok? This is your ticket to gaining better reach through the TikTok algorithm.
If you’re new to TikTok, discovering your target audience is relatively simple. TikTok makes it possible to discover via content communities, which are discoverable via hashtags.
If you’re trying to target younger demographics who are into sustainable clothing, you’re not going to want to put out fast-fashion hauls. But what do sustainable fashion shoppers enjoy? Check out relevant hashtags like #sustainablefashion for your answer.
Engage with the popular TikTok videos, content creators and TikTok influencers you see. Check out the more niche hashtags and trending hashtags that frequently crop up – and pay attention to trending songs, voiceovers and sound memes. The way these are used and shared between different content communities varies.
The most popular content will give you a great idea of the kind of videos the most relevant content community for your brand likes. This is important for both winning your target audience over, and making the TikTok algorithm work for you.
The other clever thing about engaging in the right content communities? It helps signal to the TikTok algorithm where to showcase your own TikTok videos. Which means you’re making well-researched TikTok content that’s going to be shared with users who are more likely to love it.
Naturally, this will increase your chances of viral success.
You need to consistently post video content your target audience wishes to see; then, you can let the algorithm do the hard work for you. If it flops – don’t worry: the TikTok algorithm won’t ‘punish’ you for this, and you’ll have learned something useful about your audience.
Tip 2: Consider the 3-second rule
The average length of a TikTok video is 21 to 34 seconds – which is perfect for attracting young audiences; the vast majority of whom prefer watching very short (one minute or less) mobile videos several times a day. But to go viral on TikTok, you need to be thinking in even shorter time frames than this video length.
The top piece of advice that our team of talented paid ads experts will give to you is that you need to know about the 3-second rule. What’s that?
As soon as you share a video on TikTok, the algorithm will always send the video onto users’ ‘For You’ pages, but only for a short period of time. The reason for doing this is so that the platform can identify whether your video is relevant and engaging for viewers (and if it is, it’ll show it to more people).
The key metrics that TikTok measures here are watch time and completion rate. If your audience is only watching a few seconds of your 30-second video before scrolling to another one, the algorithm will stamp your video as boring or irrelevant, and it won’t promote it.
So how do you avoid this? You make sure that your video captivates your audience. And those first 3 seconds are the most important. After all, there’s so much choice of video content on TikTok, and it’s very easy to scroll to the next video. You need to make an immediate impact.
Tip 3: Keep it entertaining
Why do users keep coming back to TikTok? Because it’s fun!
Studies show that TikTokers come to the platform again and again because it “lifts their spirits”. Our own research found that the top reason Gen Zers come to Tiktok is “for entertainment.” In particular, humour hits hard on TikTok (in a good way). Our own research shows that a massive 87% of Gen Zers said that TikTok is mainly for ‘Comedy & Humour’.
Many brands Chipotle and Ryanair have built their core messaging on the app through risqué comedic content. Often, the shock value of the laugh is what makes users want to re-watch the videos, which in turn triggers the TikTok algorithm to send them viral. With views in the multi-millions on single videos alone, this tactic clearly works.
Another key route to entertainment? edu-tainment. Tutorials are hugely popular on TikTok, and they can take all forms. Our own research found a common reason Gen Z follow brands on TikTok is because “they teach me something new.”
A third route is through surprises. In our recent event, Fanbytes by Brainlabs’ Head of Creative Strategy, Tom Sweeney explained how we sent Casio viral on TikTok by subverting storytelling norms and starting in the “wrong” place. Not only did the video make a huge splash – when used as an ad, it drove an £104 AOV. You can read more about it here.
The longer people stay on your video, the better. The longer the watch time and the higher the completion rate on your video, the more TikTok will boost your post. So, if you’re wondering how to make a viral video, you should ask yourself “what makes a compelling story?”
Start with intrigue, captivate your audience, and be mindful of pace. The more you can encourage interaction, the better: you’re demonstrating to TikTok that your content is engaging, and people want more.
@abiclarkecomedy The train is basically my second home so I was obvs chuffed when @trainlineuk asked me to be part of their “I came by train” campaign encouraging people to swap just one significant journey from plane or car to train for the environment. Oh and this tracksuit? Just a sustainably-focused little number designed by fashion designer Christopher Raeburn. Want one of your own? Head over to the link in my stories and you’ll be donating 100% of the proceeds to @wwf and get a promo code to claim a free railcard! #icamebytrain #AD #supportedbyTrainline #comedy ♬ original sound - Abi Clarke
Tip 4: Collaborate with influencers
Influencers are watchable. In fact, using creators on your TikTok ads can drive a 93% higher engagement rate. Why are they so good at what they do? They know their niche and audience and have spent time understanding what their community considers high quality content (remember step 1?).
Collaborating with influencers can help you gain unprecedented reach – amongst a series of other KPIs. After all, these content creators wouldn’t have become influencers if they didn’t know how to reach and attract large audiences.
Choosing an influencer who closely aligns with your brand’s offering effectively means you’ve found a targeted audience and a creator who knows how to reach them perfectly – meaning the chances of creating a viral video are far higher.
We worked with JOAH Beauty, using our Creator Identification tool to create ambassador programme that
truly resonated with the brand’s target audience.
Careful, though; there’s a catch.
Marketers need to choose their partnerships wisely. TikTokers are savvy. They can sniff a brand-influencer mismatch from a mile away (and will 100% call a brand out on it). If a creator doesn’t align with a brand’s set of values, it’s an immediate turn-off, and you can wave goodbye to any viral success.
The way to avoid this is to do your research. Finding the perfect creator for your campaign is fundamental to its success. Check out our article on How to Find TikTok Influencers for help. If you fancy cutting this short, you’re in luck, too. We use Bytesights, our in-house social listening and data insights tool, to find the right influencer based on trends and topical data.
Going beyond viral with influencers
The power of influencer marketing doesn’t stop at virality. Although they can help skyrocket brand awareness, they are also the key to effective full-funnel marketing on the platform.
62% of social media users trust influencers more than celebrities. Influencers can use the trust they have built to communicate effectively with their audience at all phases of the funnel. So whether you’re using TikTok to drive consideration, conversion or advocacy, working with these talents will amplify your results.
But remember, influencers use their own creativity to break bread with their followers. So give them creative freedom to produce the kind of TikTok content that their audiences come to them for.
Fanbytes by Brainlabs’ Senior Brand Partnerships Manager, Lola Randles, says “If you’re working with influencers to promote your brand, don’t underestimate their knowledge and understanding of their platform and target audience. Give them the opportunity to direct the creative. In my experience, most of the time this will result in an authentic creative which genuinely interests and engages your audience.”
If you hand the creative baton over to a TikTok creator, your ROI will thank you for it. 89% of young people follow “relatable” influencers, so if a brand dictates the creative, chances are that influencer will no longer be that “relatable”. So go on, hand that baton over.
Tip 5: Use trends to your advantage
TikTok is now ground 0 of internet trends, and trends can be extremely powerful. They offer the opportunity for your content to create or be a part of an unstoppable chain reaction where awareness builds upon awareness.
TikTok has made it faster and easier than ever to create social media content as well as consume it. Amongst TikTok’s incredibly high number of users, a significant portion (83%) have posted their own videos. This makes TikTok the ideal place for these user-generated content-led snowball effects.
Marketers can think about trends in two ways:
- First, think about jumping onto them. That means being aware of what is currently trending and, most importantly, which trends your audience are ready to discover.
If you’ve taken step number one, discovering these trends should be easier. Take a look at your FYP. Note the ideas, sounds or creative narratives that consistently come up. If you’re looking to go viral, these are golden nuggets of information. Then it’s time to put your own spin on it, staying authentic to your brand messaging and using the trend’s growth to your advantage.
What’s the simplest way to find out about current trends? Sign up to our TikTok Trends Newsletter to be in the know every single week.
- The second way is to create the trend yourself. Take inspiration from some of the top TikTok trends and think about how you can make your own to boost UGC and amplify your efforts.
We made Dua Lipa’s new song go viral on TikTok by creating a new dance trend on the app and collaborating with some of TikTok’s most successful influencers. In doing so, we maximised the potential of TikTok’s copycat user-generated content to create a fresh trend that resulted in 15.3 million views and 58,000 fan videos. You can read more on the case study here.
Another way to boost your reach is through trending sounds. Check out our article on TikTok Trending Sounds: How Brands Can Get Involved for more info on using popular music to go viral. Additionally, trending audio memes in particular are an expanding territory and come with a whole plethora of opportunities to go viral, especially as most come without the difficulty of music licensing. You can read more about how to use sound memes these to go viral on TikTok here.
Trending hashtags and hashtag challenges can also provide a pathway to going viral. But only if you use the right ones. Take a look at our article: Viral TikTok Hashtags: How to Use Hashtags to Skyrocket Your Brand to learn more.
Tip 6: become the ‘poster boy’ of your niche
One of the most effective ways we’ve seen creators and brands send themselves viral on TikTok is by identifying a niche and becoming their ‘poster boy’.
Identifying a trend on TikTok is the start point, but to increase your chances of your video becoming virally popular, you need to differentiate yourself from the other videos doing the same thing.
That sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it. But hear us out: yes, you want to tap trends, and trends come from replicating content with similar videos. But to go viral, you need to be co-opting the trend to say something original and valuable about yourself. You need to take ownership.
A great example comes from Sony Commercial Group, who we worked with to catapult George Michael’s song, Careless Whisper, as a TikTok trend. The track had already inspired an organic meme, so we targeted macro influencers with unique viewpoints and high engagement rates to create videos with a new twist – all soundtracked by the official song linked from Spotify.
This helped to re-invigorate the TikTok trend and give it a new direction, as their followers copied this new iteration — all while using the official sound (and increasing streams). To read more about this project, check out our case study here.
Creating a USP and ‘distinguishing factor’ between you and other TikTok accounts is essential. A great way to do this is to find something that you can own (be it a product, popular song, skill or viewpoint), and create a series or TikTok playlist out of it, so people keep coming back.
Tip 7: Make sure you’re discoverable via TikTok search
TikTok isn’t a search engine per se, but it’s certainly growing to become one, with intuitive suggestions for users to follow. it’s becoming the first port of call for Gen Zers looking for information, earning the nickname “the new Google”.
But TikTok Search also functions slightly differently than a standard Google search – and Gen Zers, in particular, are using it in unique and exciting ways.
Let’s say someone was looking for conversations around “Vegan Beauty”. If you type that into Google, you’ll likely get a whole set of products and specific results on the subject. Searching for this on TikTok, however, will give you discussions around it.
And this isn’t the only way that the TikTok search engine is creating new search behaviours – and therefore new ways to go viral. Check out our article on TikTok search for more.
Naturally, as TikTok search develops, so will TikTok Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). How can you make your videos visible? We show you how to do this in our article, TikTok SEO: How to Get Discovered on TikTok.
Hashtags can also help – by both supporting your Tiktok SEO and signalling to the algorithm where to share your content. Looking for a shortcut? read our article: Best Hashtags for TikTok: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for help with your hashtags.
Tip 8: Engage - especially in the comments
On TikTok, the comments section is powerful. Globally, an average of 77% of TikTok users say they read the comments on the posts and videos on the app. This section in itself can go viral, and is another area where TikTok is developing its search engine capabilities.
There are millions of users just waiting to jump on and engage here. Leaving a comment can really boost your brand in their eyes – and the TikTok algorithm will reward you for it. So why not use it?
Additionally, replying to user comments on your videos can help you encourage UGC, and even inspire more content – keeping engaged users coming back.
Take inspiration from TikTok influencers: these creators tend to reply to comments with new videos, which helps them stay connected with their audience and promote more creative content that they know will land well. Brands can do the same. The beauty of this is that you are bringing the original viewers of the first video with you when you create another from that comments section, plus any other users who stumble on your content.
The absolute brilliance here? You keep your viewers wanting more. The more they want to see your content, the more they will seek it out, and the more chance you’ll have of triggering the Tiktok algorithm to send you viral.
@devoncolemusic GETTING ‘ER DONE!!! Thank you for all the love WOW @johnmarknelson #fyp #witchtok #witch ♬ W.I.T.C.H. by Devon Cole and John Mark Nelson - Devon Cole
Going viral isn’t the end game
It’s just the beginning. Going viral on TikTok takes understanding TikTok. But truly building your brand on TikTok? This takes understanding your audience on TikTok.
There’s a difference between content communities (users who keep an eye on specific topics on Tiktok) and your own follower community (users who are actually following you). Once you’ve started attracting users to follow your brand, it’s vital that you truly connect with these people. This is how you create viral videos that actually translate into long-term brand love.
The great thing? TikTok’s algorithm actually rewards you for doing this, too. Nurturing your follower community on TikTok can help you achieve widespread viral success.
If your TikTok community loves your content, TikTok’s algorithm will show it to more ‘similar’ users –
and if they love it too, the snowball effect can make you go viral.
To read more about this and how it works, check out our article, My Brand Went Viral on TikTok – Now What? 3: Conversion
Naturally, you’re probably wondering how you can get this deeper understanding of your audience on TikTok. That’s where we come in.
Our in-house social listening and data insights tool, Bytesights, helps us spot trends before they happen, match the ideal influencers to brand campaigns and accurately predict what will skyrocket your brand awareness. We’ve made Mac’s MacStack Mascara viral on TikTok this year (becoming the best-selling mascara in the UK) and cranked up conversions for Casio, driving an average order value of £104.
What results can we achieve for you? Get in touch to find out how we’ll turn your brand into a viral success on TikTok – and how you can build a strategy that keeps delivering, time after time.
If you want some more juicy insights on how to create viral content, make the latest trends work for you, or pro tips for maximising your brands’ social network presence, take a look at our articles below: