For sure, TikTok is changing, and it is definitely different than it was 12 months ago. Regardless of how you feel about its new ‘For You Page’ (FYP) algorithm, you must stay up to date with these changes if you are to have any chance of going viral.
TikTok is growing fast, and so too is the number of creators who use the platform. The result of this increased use of TikTok means that it is becoming much more challenging to get onto the FYP. Creators either love or hate the FYP, usually depending on whether they are on there or not! However, no matter how you feel about the FYP algorithm, you are going to have to stay abreast of its changes to have any chance of success with the app.
The split in opinions over the FYP algorithm has resulted in several myths circulating about TikTok. Here are a few of the more widespread ones:
Your follower count influences the number of people that can see your content. This belief is simply not true.
If you don't go viral in one of your first five posts, you need to delete your account and start over. Once again, this is a complete fallacy.
Posting when the majority of your followers are active will get you to the FYP. Doing this is pointless as it is not true.
The Truth About TikTok’s Algorithm
You’ve just read some of the myths about TikTok, so what can you do to go viral in 2021? Several factors will impact the number of views your videos receive. There are plenty of articles and help videos available on how to develop content for TikTok. You also might want to view some articles on why specific videos went viral to get a deeper understanding. However, here are a few basic principles to consider right now:
Watch-Time Percentage. How much of your video are people actually watching? If it is 100%, you may have hit the sweet spot in terms of video length. However, if they are only viewing 10-20% of your videos, you might consider the content to be too long.
Viewer Engagement. Consider how much your videos are being liked, shared, or commented about. If it is a lot, then you are hitting the mark in terms of content. But, if people are not showing much interest, then your content may not be relevant.
Get On Trend. Timing is vital, and if you can time the right content with a trend, you will have more chance of succeeding. You may have a great video, but if it is posted too early or too late and misses the trend, you will diminish your chances of going viral.
We’ll now take a more in-depth look at each of these factors.
Regardless of whether you're five seconds long or run for one minute, the average watch-time percentage is significant for any video to get on the FYP and subsequently go viral on TikTok. With more than 700,000 followers, TikTok influencer Robert Benjamin and others have produced many informative videos about the best time to post on TikTok. Robert emphasizes the need to create longer videos that keep viewers engaged right to the end.
Robert’s top tip for success using TikTok is to make videos that are longer than 15 seconds. He believes that FYP is rewarding longer videos at the expense of shorter ones, regardless of having a similar watch-time percentage.
You might be asking yourself why this might be the case? The reason is that TikTok wants to maintain viewers’ presence on the platform. Having viewers engaged in a video for longer will mean that they remain on TikTok for longer overall. Therefore, if you have a few videos under 15-seconds duration, you might want to consider extending them or replacing them with longer ones. Doing so is likely to give you much more opportunity to go viral.
However, there is a caveat attached to this advice. Keeping people engaged for half a minute or more is considerably more challenging than grasping their attention for five seconds. Therefore, if you are struggling to produce an engaging video that is between 30-60 seconds, your chance of going viral might be best done through a series of five-second videos. Indeed, there are still plenty of people achieving great success on TikTok following this method.
That’s because a shorter video makes it easier to maintain the audience’s excitement and energy levels. Be aware that if you go down this route, you will need to ensure 100% watch-time if you want to see significant results from TikTok’s FYP.
If you find it a challenge to maintain a viewer’s attention on your longer videos, you might want to consider using the Stitch feature. Stitching videos is an exciting and straightforward means of getting your viewers hooked on your content. TikTok’s Stitch feature allows you to set up a basic question-and-answer format for your videos. This format is an effective way to get onto FYP, as many of these videos are already on the FYP. Why? Because many of the TikToks on the FYP begin with a question and then go on to provide the answer.
To stitch videos, follow these three simple steps:
Select the video you want to provide the answer to, then click on its Stitch feature.
Cut the ‘question video’ so that it ONLY poses the question.
Create a video that answers the answer to that question.
You can use stitching as a question-and-answer experience or as a ‘React-Respond.’ Many creators choose to answer a question regarding a controversial subject, or they may react to something that is trending due to its craziness or reaction-worthiness. So, you might want to consider these methods too.
Even better, you may be the creator who has produced a “stitchable” video. In this case, you can pose your own question as well as providing the answer. If you can encourage other people to stitch your video, you will be well on your way to going viral.
The beauty of stitching is that all you need to do is record your answer or reaction. There is no real effort involved in hooking the viewer, as this work has already been done by the original video's creator posing the question. What you've done, though, is double the length of your video and with a minimal amount of effort.
Following Watch-Time Percentage, Viewer Engagement is your second most crucial FYP metric. Viewer Engagement is measured in the number of times your videos are shared, or you get followed. TikTok rewards the content and creators that are getting shared and followed. These two metrics are more beneficial to you than likes or comments.
Sharing a video or following a creator will result in more people using TikTok and more people using it for longer. Therefore, the TikTok algorithm is designed to maximize exposure to content that receives the most shares and follows. Of course, do not overlook the need for likes and comments, as these are beneficial too, just not as much.
One of Robert’s best tips is to incentivize viewer engagement. You may think that your content is good, but if you aren’t incentivizing viewer engagement, you are missing out on considerable leverage.
The secret is to ask people to comment in a way that is likely to get them commenting. Also, try to give them more incentive to follow you than merely being one of your followers.
For instance, how does this sound; “Press + to follow me.” Not that inspirational, right? Now, compare that with these three options:
“Hit + if you want a gamer GF.”
“Love dogs? Tap + to prove it.”
“Want to be gaming right now? Hit +”
Get On Trend
You should aim to have all of your content, definitely most of it, based on something that’s on-trend. That means using a trending story, audio, or dance that’s trending is likely to get more views than content that is totally new or unique.
You might think that this is counter-intuitive, but TikTok is based on creating and promoting trends. The FYP algorithm understands that viewers enjoy particular audios that previously went viral. Therefore, it will promote content that includes those pieces of audio. In essence, the algorithm believes it has located an audience for your content.
Once again, the FYP algorithm has been developed to keep viewers engaged on the TikTok platform for as long as possible. Any content that isn’t on-trend doesn’t contribute to keeping viewers on the app, so this content gets deprioritized.
The only way you could go viral with content that’s not on-trend is if your watch-time percentage is 100%. However, the chances of this happening for non-trending content are low.
Another advantage of getting on trend is that it lessens the need to produce creative content. It can be creatively challenging to make new and unique content every day, whereas trending content is simple to leverage and will save a considerable amount of time.
Consider following other creators within your niche. Look out for what they’re doing, their latest videos, and which of their content is having the best results. Also, try favoriting any audios on your FYP that you feel you could use and that your audience would enjoy.
It is crucial to assess what’s trending and decide whether it will work within your niche and will work for you as a creator. You
should understand that not all trends will work for every account. It is crucial to choose a trend that you can adapt creatively and with little effort. Here are some of the top trending categories of 2020:
You can go viral on TikTok without having a massive production budget. Thousands of creators get their content going viral every day with nothing more than a smartphone.
What matters most is to have a hook within your content that compels people to start watching it, keep watching it, comment on it, and share it with other viewers. If your content has this hook, people will be more likely to follow you because you’ve entertained them, and they’ll want more.
Once you’ve learned how to use TikTok, the next challenge is to start creating content that has the potential to go viral. What you’ve discovered in this article is how the algorithm works and the importance of trending and hooks. However, the thing that will trump everything is having great content.
If you have got content that’ll grip your audience’s attention so much that they can’t look away. Create such content, and add in your newfound understanding of TikTok's algorithm, your videos will go viral, and you’ll be unstoppable on the FYP.
Josh from Exolyt
This article is written by Josh, who works at Exolyt as a Senior Social Media Consultant. Josh helps influencers, marketers and content creators to improve their engagement and take the most out of their accounts.