Ahh, TikTok! Home to viral challenges, mega-stunts and probably the best memes on the internet. The world’s 7th biggest social media app has certainly come a long way in just 5 years.
TikTok is now proudly home to over 1 billion users and harbors some of the highest-grossing social media stars on the planet. It’s no surprise that users are doing what they can to become its next big thing.
But how exactly do you get TikTok famous, and why should you bother anyway? Read on to find out.
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The benefits of becoming famous on TikTok
TikTok currently sits at 1 billion active users, which makes it the 7th largest social media network in the world.
The app has over 73 million users in the United States alone (meaning roughly 22% of the country’s population uses TikTok).
And while users under the age of 19 are still the largest demographic on the platform, TikTok is by no means a “lip-syncing app for kids” anymore. In 2021, all age groups have a solid representation on the platform:
Combine this with TikTok’s ultra-engaging algorithm, and the benefits of using the platform (for marketing or personal fame) become clear: No matter what demographic you’re trying to reach online, you’re likely to find a highly engaged slice of it on TikTok.
Can you become TikTok famous overnight?
You’ve probably heard that it’s easy to get famous on TikTok. And that’s true. But only in comparison to older social networks like Instagram and Facebook.
That’s because the TikTok algorithm doesn’t recommend content based on follower count, making it much easier for new users to rack up views and grow their accounts.
TikTok will recommend your clips on the For You page (the app’s home page and main feed) if they’re similar to what your audience is already watching and interacting with.
But even so, a million engaged followers are unlikely to fall into your lap overnight.
I’m not saying you won’t wake up one morning to find your latest clip has gone viral and your local paper wants to do a piece on you. But real fame takes more than one viral TikTok video.
To build your base, you need to match viral success with more videos that hit the TikTok sweet spot.
“How do you do that?”, I hear you ask. Let’s take a look at some strategies that will bring you closer to TikTok fame.
How to become TikTok famous: 6 strategies
1. Build a recognizable brand
TikTok is not the place to be a Jack or Jane of all trades. Most famous TikTok influencers pick a niche and build their personal brand around it. Visit any of the big hitter’s profiles, and you’ll see video after video of the same kind of content.
Let’s take a look at some examples!
Zach King (who is, unironically one of the kings of TikTok) amassed 66.4 million followers by posting clip after clip of mind-bending special effects. His videos, as he puts it, bring “a little more wonder into the world, 15 seconds at a time.”
Case in point, this 19 million views (and counting) video of Zach reversing into what appears to be a perfectly average car… until it’s not!
Here’s another example: #CottageCore queen A Clothes Horse. Her relentlessly whimsical, dress-clad outings have earned her 1.2 million followers to date.
The takeaway here is to get specific. Pick a topic or theme you know a lot about and run with it. Consistently!
2. Find your niche
On TikTok, people spend more time engaging with suggested content and accounts they don’t already follow than on other social platforms.
That’s because TikTok’s home screen, the For You page, is a personalized feed of content that the algorithm thinks you will like. (And based on our team’s vigorous testing, a.k.a. countless hours spent browsing TikTok, the algorithm usually gets it right.)
The For You page algorithm bases its recommendations on what you’ve liked and engaged with before (as well as other metrics).
In other words, to get famous on TikTok, you need to:
- Know the trending hashtags used by the subculture or niche.
- Use those hashtags consistently when you post videos.
- Follow them so you can keep up with emerging trends in your niche.
Here’s PlayStation demonstrating exactly what that looks like.
In this ThanksGiving-themed post, the global gaming company uses the hashtag #gamingontiktok to connect with the platform’s gaming culture.
Playstation could have just used their branded hashtag. But they know they’ll reach a wider audience using the broader tags of their audience’s subculture.
You can find relevant hashtags by identifying the most popular accounts in your niche. Then checking the non-branded tags they use on their best-performing posts.
3. Know TikTok trends
TikTok might not have invented memes and internet trends, but it’s definitely where they now live. Or at least start.
So, if you want to get famous on TikTok, you need to find, follow and take part in the platform’s trends.
To find trends on TikTok:
- Follow the #trendalert and #tiktokchallenge hashtags. (Yep, it can be that simple.)
- Check well-performing posts on competitors’ profiles.
- Spend some time scrolling through your For You page.
- Use the Discover tab (save the best till last, right?).
The Discover tab is similar to Instagram’s Explore, except it breaks down content by trend type.
You can find the Discover tab at the bottom of your screen in the TikTok app.
Under Discover, you’ll find trending sounds (music and other audio clips you can add to your videos), effects (TikTok’s in-app effects) and hashtags.
Adding trending music, effects and hashtags to your videos opens up a much wider audience to your content.
But don’t just replicate what others are doing. Put your own spin on it.
What does that mean? Well… say you want in on the #christmasbaking trend. But, you only post original content showcasing ridiculous food challenges. So you could, for example, challenge yourself to eat only Christmas-themed foods for an entire day.
I give you, exhibit A:
@mattpeterson_Only eating CHRISTMAS THEMED FOODS for an entire day! 🎅 @tobyramo #christmas #santa #holidays #christmasbaking #foryou #fyp #viral #buddytheelf #elf♬ Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
And remember, 61% of people say they find brands more likable when they take part in TikTok trends.
4. Post often
Unlike other social networks, TikTok won’t punish you for posting (too) often. Every time you post to TikTok, you create a new opportunity to show up on people’s For You pages. And many top TikTokers swear that posting high quality content daily is their secret to TikTok success.
This tactic helped Netflix attract 21.3m followers. And they’re pretty prolific! Even by TikTok standards.
Netflix frequently posts 5-6 videos in a single day.
On top of finding your ideal posting frequency, you should also try to time each TikTok to reach as big of a slice of your target audience as possible when they’re online. Here’s a quick guide to finding your custom best times to post on TikTok:
5. Engage with your followers
In many ways, TikTok is not like other social networks —but when it comes to engagement, it’s the same. Just like Facebook and Instagram, TikTok’s algorithm rewards content and creators that inspire engagement with posts.
On TikTok, engagement means:
One of the best ways to increase engagement with your posts is to regularly respond to your followers. Take a leaf out of Ryanair’s book and reply to every comment you get.
That might sound like a chore, but it’s helped the airline amass 1.3m followers so far.
You might want to save a bit of energy for this last strategy though…
6. Engage with other TikTok users
Just as on other social networks, brands can easily share user-generated content to their TikTok accounts. American clothing brand Aerie often uses this tactic because it fits well with their brand ideal of showcasing authentic beauty.
1 year ago, the OFFLINE by Aerie Real Me Crossover Legging had a MOMENT, thanks to @hannahschlenker!
TikTok has unique features that allow users to react and respond to other people’s clips in video form.
Using TikTok’s native tools, you can Duet, Stitch and video reply to a clip.
Duet creates a split-screen clip that features the original video on one side and your version, response or reply on the other side. It looks like this…
Stitch allows you to weave part of a user’s clip into your video. According to TikTok, Stich “is a way to reinterpret and add to another user’s content.”
Uber-famous TikToker khaby.lame lives on Stitch content. He’s gained 123m followers stitching together videos of weird internet life hacks with his common sense versions.
By engaging with other TikTok users in these ways, you can:
- Show them your content and maybe get featured on their page.
- Piggyback on popular videos and relevant trends.
- Capitalize on emerging trends.