TikTok is a rapidly growing social media platform whose mission is to be “the leading destination for short-form [vertical] mobile video – to inspire creativity and bring joy.” This guide to TikTok best practices to help you understand and navigate this new creative platform.
What is unique about TikTok?
TikTok stands apart from other social networks in the following ways:
- It will help you meet the next generation: With the majority of TikTok’s users being highly-engaged Generation Z and Millennials based in major cities around the world, brands can instantly connect with the next generation of consumers.
- You can get unique engagement on posts: Whether it’s through an idea, tool or the hashtag challenge, brands can convert users into ambassadors through the power of shared experience on the platform.
- You can drive exponential growth on the platform: TikTok’s intelligent content discovery process allows users to discover fresh content based on their viewing preferences and habits, helping brands achieve fast growth and maximum visibility.
- It has highly engaged and passionate users: Be entertained and inspired by a global community of creators.
- It’s a fully-immersive vertical video experience: TikTok provides a variety of full-screen vertical short-form video content, pioneering the trend of video consumption around the world.
Facts about TikTok
- In terms of number of users and growth, TikTok is the top social media application right now. Total number of monthly active users: 800 million.
- Urban Generation Z and Millennials are the top demographics using the platform (source):
- 41 percent of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24.
- 56% of TikTok users are male and 44% are female.
- Roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34 with 26% between 18 and 24.
- Chinese users account for 80% of the total time spent using TikTok in 2019.
- 43% of new TikTok users are from India.
- TikTok users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the app.
- 26.5 million monthly active users are from the USA
- In less than 18 months, the number of US adult TikTok users grew 5.5 times.
- 90% of TIkTok users visit the app more than once per day.
- The platform is a cultural generator that circulates viral songs, trends, hashtags, memes ideas, and more.
- The platform boasts sophisticated editing suite, with many features and tools
- By upgrading to the pro account users can access helpful user analytics.
- The trends and types of content you would find on TikTok include: Dance, Lip-sync, Talent, Comedy, Meme videos, and Hashtag challenges.
Anecdotal Advice from Top TikTok Influencers
- “There is no such thing as posting too much on TikTok…if you can post three TikToks a day you are gonna grow quicker than someone who posts once a day.“
- You have to post videos every day, even if they don’t reach many people. Consistency is key.
- Knowledge about TikTok’s algorithm is sketchy at best, but unlike Facebook, it doesn’t punish users for frequent uploads.
- TikTok is oversaturated with wannabe influencers: “you need to have something unique about you” to succeed. Personality is key. Create a unique brand.
- “One thing that I started to do quite quickly was to establish a personality. It’s the one thing people don’t tend to do – they tend to just make videos of them dancing or miming words, and that’s not something most people can connect with. It’s not something you can humanize.”
- Use the tools the app gives you, especially if they’re recent additions.
- “When you’re using effects people are seeing for the first time, they’ll probably see more videos of you, then they’ll go to your profile.”
- Showing people “something they haven’t seen” is part of what’s made [top influencer’s] growth so explosive… be creative and weird.”
- “Optimize for a high re-watchability, completion, and share-ability. Suspense, understanding, and anticipation are the new clickbait.”
- Make sure videos have a “plot twist,” i.e. formatting your video so the laugh out loud moment comes right at the end, so users can’t help but stick around.
- “You can’t be scared to be cringey…cringey is good because that’s what sells. People wanna watch you do that video because they’re too scared to.”
- “Strange and relatable resonates.”
- TikToks that you don’t expect to blow up/don’t put that much effort into…often are the ones that blowup.
- Pay attention to novel trends and capitalize on them (remix trends with your own twist, use popular songs and sounds, ride the timely wave of trending hashtag challenges).
- “Maintain mobile-first, but maximize video quality (lights, sound, mise en scene). Consider using the back camera, professional equipment, editing software as you grow if it’s right for your content.”
- If a new song is used only one or two times on the ‘for you’ page, it will probably start blowing up
soon. You want to take advantage of this as it is time-sensitive.
- Overthinking can kill you on TikTok. Don’t “over-optimize” your videos to the algorithm. You have to be authentic/real/spontaneous.
Best Practices for an Optimal TikTok Video Post
Based on the research above and my experience on the platform the videos that perform the best on the platform are:
- 10-15 seconds long
- have a distinct beginning, middle, and end
- necessitates watching until the very end or even better, requires re-watching
- incentivizes sharing, commenting, liking and following
- are posted at peak times for your followers and the general population
- Note: 6 p.m. and 12 p.m. have been shown to be the best posting times
- are posted at least 3 or 4 hours after your previous post.
- Note: back-to-back posting is penalized by AI (artificial intelligence)
- uses 6-8 hashtags max that use a mix of popular, trending hashtags and niche hashtags relevant to your video
- uses popular, trending music and sounds that are relevant to visuals (when applicable)
- aligns with chosen and clearly articulated vertical theme and aligns with chosen articulated persona and character
- uses new editing tools and features (when applicable)
- uses the optimal film, audio, editing quality and techniques to tell the story As stated in the TikToks mission statement you want your video to “inspire creativity and bring joy”
- incentivizes rewatching
- videos that are part of a series or follow-up on a theme or idea generally do quite well
How Influencers are Making Money on TikTok
- Live streaming: this is available to users who have 1,000 followers which allow viewers to send money in real-time through the application
- Brand deals: number of sponsored “ambassadors” can be discovered on the app
- Selling merchandise: once you have a known brand
- Being discovered: Influencers are discovered on TikTok platform because of their influence value and can evolve into other aspects on the industry