Of all the ways we could describe 2020, weird certainly is up there. With the majority of the world in lockdown for most (if not all) of the year, it’s meant a lot of spare time. Some of us learned how to make banana bread, others started a side hustle. As for me? I accidentally went viral on TikTok.
TikTok, once a platform I considered to be purely for teens doing dances, has grown to be a force in the social media ecosystem for all demographics. In case you’re not across it, TikTok is a short-form video sharing platform app that allows users to create TikToks up to 60 seconds long on virtually any topic. Its key difference? In my opinion, it’s the ability to tap into microcosms of society and culture.
You see, everyone starts out on TikTok with the same ‘For You Page’, which is essentially an explore page filled with all different users’ video content. You’ll be served dances, generic funny and viral videos, and then this is where the personalisation kicks in. Once you start engaging with a certain type of content (such as dogs, for example) the algorithm gets to work, personalising your FYP with similar content and creators.
Pretty soon, your FYP will be unique to your location, demographics and interests as TikTok categorises you into niches that it knows you’ll engage and interact with. As a queer, Australian powerlifter, for me this looked like: LGBTQ+ content, Australian politics, women in fitness… The more I engaged, the niche-r it became. Pretty soon, I started to post content of my own, and within a few weeks, one of my TikToks went viral, amassing over 550K+ views and 100K likes.
Spurred on by its success, I started to post more frequently. Almost a year on, I’ve grown my following to a community of 87K+ strong, with a total of 2.7million likes across all my content. While most of my content is centred around my personal experiences, as a digital marketing expert, I couldn’t help but glean some insights that can be applied to my day job as well. Although TikTok may not be a relevant channel for every brand to utilise, content marketing more broadly should be the cornerstone for any engaging digital strategy.
So, here are the 5 things I learned about content marketing by accidentally going viral on TikTok:
Find Your ‘Why’, Niche Down & Run With It
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’. While corny, it’s absolutely true. As a brand (business or personal), it’s crucial to identify your why, otherwise known as your vision, mission or brand story. Why do you do what you do? Drill down on that and then run with it. For me, my why is to empower women and non-binary people (especially POC) to take up more space and live authentically. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Find your why and let your content flow organically from there.
Test, Learn & Test Some More
Once you have your niche, it’s time to test! There are so many different variables to test when it comes to content creation. From the type (video, blog), length (short and snappy or long-form), tone of voice (humorous, educational) and even stylistic choices (colour, use of music, crop of video). The great thing about content marketing, especially on an app like TikTok with a short shelf life, is that you can churn and burn until you find something that sticks. Start to build your secret sauce with the content that resonates best with your audience.
Tap Into Trends To Boost Reach & Relevancy
Now you know what you’re saying and how to say it, how can you amplify this to reach new audiences? Trends and memes are a staple of internet culture, and while it can be confusing to get your head around some of them, jumping on them while they’re hot can work wonders for increasing relevance. Here’s a great example from one of our own clients, Pickering’s Gin, who jumped onto the ‘Bernie Sanders In Mittens’ meme with the below post:
As you can see, the post got some awesome engagement, with plenty of laugh and love reacts as well as shares. The key is to be quick: there’s nothing more cringey to a millennial or Gen Z audience than trying to revive a meme that is past its heyday.
Fuel Your Strategy With Insights
Now, you didn’t think I’d get through a blog post without mentioning data, right? While the analytics on TikTok isn’t as informative for creators as say, Google Analytics, they do provide some key insights on followers’ gender, location and (probably most importantly) time most active on the app. Using this, I know that my audience heavily skews to users in the US, followed by Australia and the UK, and that my key posting times should be around 5:00PM, 7:00PM and 11:00PM UTC to ensure all those audiences are awake and likely to engage with my content. On a post-level, I can see things like average watch time and the number of shares. These are crucial indicators of whether or not a TikTok will be successful and pushed out to more viewers! Use the data you have on your platform of choice to drive these decisions around posting time for the best chance of success.
Before Posting, Ask Yourself: Is This Relevant And/Or Shareable?
The best content is something that makes your audience think “oh my god, that’s so me” and then share it with their best friends. As mentioned above, shares and comments are extremely important metrics to all social algorithms and weighted higher than just likes, for example. When I look back at my best-performing TikToks, they’ve been something niche enough but also relevant enough for that specific audience to share around – like one of my best-performing ones below:
Your content needs to be super engaging, funny or informative enough that people want to boost and share it around. Before you post, ask yourself how relevant and shareable your content is. If you’re unsure of the answer, you might be better off going to the drawing board and coming up with another angle.
So there you have it! The 5 things I’ve learnt about content marketing by accidentally going viral have helped my TikTok take off and grow my personal brand. Although my first viral post was an accident, these tips will help you achieve sustainable growth for your own following and community, making your content strategy absolutely unmissable.
If you’re keen to chat more about content marketing, TikTok or need a hand with your own digital strategy, reach out to me at email@example.com.