How to go viral on TikTok: 7 tips from brands that did it
Stuck on how to go viral on TikTok?
Making it happen might be easier than you’d think.
Because recent data highlights how there’s so much potential for brands to blow up on Tiktok.
Think about it. One billion weekly active users watching 20+ hours of TikTok on average. There’s plenty of attention to go around.
TikTok’s die-hard audience presents a prime opportunity for your videos to pop off.
In this post, we’ll break down the basics of how to get views on TikTok, how to blow up on TikTok and reach “viral” status.
7 actionable tips to make your TikTok go viral
Let’s be real: you can’t brute force your way to millions of views.
Remember that viral marketing only works when it’s organic, authentic and totally unexpected.
And so if you’re looking for “tricks” or “hacks,” you might be disappointed.
Much of how to make your video go viral on TikTok is about being at the right place at the right time. You’re still at the mercy of the TikTok algorithm.
Context also matters when it comes to what “viral” looks like for you.
Maybe going viral means getting 10x or 20x your normal engagement. Perhaps it means passing a certain viewer threshold based on your audience size (think: 100,000+ or 500,000+).
Now we’re talking! With realistic expectations in mind, below are seven tips for going viral on TikTok.
1. Create videos with viral-friendly formats
Consider that some video formats on TikTok are more likely to take off than others. For starters, the following should be central to your content strategy.
“Did you know?” Videos
Food for thought: 49% of content discovery on TikTok is driven by the desire to “learn something new.”
This speaks to the popularity of edutainment-style content on the platform. Below is a fantastic example from REI featuring commonly mispronounced products sold by the brand. Lighthearted humor that teaches viewers something is the perfect combo for views.
Speaking of teaching, how-tos and tutorials dominate TikTok for a reason. This is especially true among #BeautyTok.
Here’s a minimalist example from Lashify. This video earned over 8 million views, providing that going viral on TikTok doesn’t require a ton of production value.
“Watch what happens” videos
Given the scroll-heavy nature of TikTok, anything you can do to keep viewers glued to your content is a plus.
That’s why content that showcases progress or a “before and after” is so popular. People can’t help but want to find out what the end product looks like and will stick around until the end of your video to find out.
For example, consider how recipe time lapses are all the rage. Here’s an example from Nespresso that earned 5+ million views.
This home decor showcasing the transformation of thrift store finds is another great example, earning over 3.4 million “Likes.” No editing tricks required!
What do these videos have in common? They include built-in hooks to keep people watching until the end.
2. When in doubt, keep your videos on the shorter side (<15 seconds)
Hey, speaking of watching until the end!
Conventional wisdom says that short videos are ideal for going viral on TikTok. Anecdotally, the most popular videos on the platform rarely approach the minute or even 30-second mark.
Also, we know that the TikTok algorithm rewards videos with higher completion rates. Shorter videos tend to get watched in full, especially if they have a hook as we talked about earlier.
Shorter videos aren’t the be-all, end-all of viral content, though. You should experiment for yourself to figure out what video length tends to perform best for your target audience. Thankfully, your TikTok analytics can clue you in.
3. Feature real people in your content
According to TikTok, creators boost engagement on both paid and organic content. This speaks to the popularity of creator and influencer partnerships with brands on TikTok.
It’s no coincidence that most viral videos from brands are tied to creator accounts, not the brands themselves. Check out @makeupbytammi ‘s viral video for Rimmel London that earned 18+ million views.
Authentic and relatable, creator content instantly defuses any sense of a sales pitch for brands.
Consider also that creators have a strong pulse on what TikTokers want to see. Their insights can help brands tap into trends and content types that speak to their communities.
4. Piggyback on popular videos and TikTok trends
Food for thought: 97% of video views on TikTok come from the “For You” page. There’s no better place to do some trendspotting and uncover what people are buzzing about.
Trending audio. Skits and challenges. Viral products.
Tracking all of the above is crucial. The problem? Content moves so quickly that most TikTok trends have a short shelf-life.
But if you can piggyback on a relevant trend, you may very well go viral.
Here’s an example from Coach featuring recently trending audio from Clueless. Earning 2.5+ million, this clip was a perfect match for their promotional throwback to the 90s.
Brands should also mind ongoing content trends and popular content formats. For example, the #ASMR hashtag on TikTok has over 340 billion (yes, billion) views.
Check out how Cheez-Its managed to earn millions of views with their ridiculous video hopping on the “tingly” audio bandwagon.
TikTok and comedy go hand in hand. Fact: humor represents the most effective form of messaging for modern customers. Note how brands like Duolingo have leaned so heavily into humor that almost all of their videos have viral potential.
Comedy isn’t a guaranteed way to get more views on TikTok. That said, humorous videos are more likely to showcase the personality that viewers want to see from brands.
5. Don’t ignore your captions, hashtags and descriptions
Content comes first when it comes to going viral.
Still, there’s some fine-tuning you can do to your videos to increase their likelihood to earn reach. This includes:
- Captions. It’s no secret that many people watch social videos without sound. Featuring captions in your videos means you can reach the widest audience possible.
- Hashtags. Choose your TikTok hashtags wisely. Trending and community tags (#BeautyTok or #BookTok) can help you earn visibility and get boosted as a result.
- Descriptions. This is yet another opportunity to drive engagement. Questions and calls to action can do the trick. So can descriptions that encourage read-throughs to keep viewers on your video.
For example, check out the video below from Positive Piece Puzzles that went viral within the #selfcare hashtag. The description gives context to the video and the caption serves as a natural hook.
6. Focus on going viral within your community
Niche down to expand your reach.
Seems a bit backward, right? Hear us out!
TikTok’s audience is so massive right now that “generalist” videos are likely to get lost in the shuffle. On the flip side, niching down and creating buzzworthy content for specific communities is a smart move.
Below is an example from Barnes and Noble that went viral among #BookTok, earning over a million views. Bonus points for the humorous angle and featuring real people!
TikTok notes that hashtag categorization resulted in a 151% growth in video views during 2021. Going viral within a community is a much less lofty (and more realistic!) goal than making the FYP overnight.
7. Publish consistently to keep your momentum going
Keep in mind that social media algorithms reward consistency. TikTok is no exception.
That’s why brands that post regularly tend to earn reach on the regular. Look at Crumbl Cookies’ TikTok presence as evidence.
Consistently posting goes hand in hand with consistent interactions and engagement. This helps put your account in good standing with the algorithm.
The more content you post and engagement drive, the more likely you are to figure out how to go viral. You might pick up on a content theme that takes off and can keep the trend going to maximize your viewership.
For example, Off Limits cereal earned millions of views through their “reverse stealing” series. These videos involved sneaking their product into stores and then purchasing it themselves. This series is among the most popular content the brand has published.
How long does it take to go viral on TikTok?
The short answer? It depends!
No brand, agency or creator can guarantee viral content. Reaching that level requires experimentation and consistency. Not to mention a little bit of luck.
Taking the time to build and engage a community with trendy, topical content is the first step. Whether it takes weeks or months to make that happen really depends on you and your resources.
This highlights how important it is to not only post regularly but also track your progress along the way. For example, tools like Sprout Social’s TikTok analytics can clue you in on whether your presence is scaling.
From your top content to watch-time trends, these insights can uncover ways to fine-tune your TikTok videos.
Do you have what it takes to go viral on TikTok?
Again, making your video trend on TikTok doesn’t have to be a pipe dream.
Testing the tips above can set your videos up for greater reach. There’s a reason why so many brands on TikTok stick to these best practices.
Still trying to navigate TikTok? Want to learn more about what “success” looks like with short-form video? We’ve got you covered!
Check out our guide to TikTok for business for more insights and inspiration to scale your TikTok presence.
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