Updated April 2023
With more than one billion users in over 150 countries, TikTok has become a powerful social media platform. This video-sharing app lets users create and share 15-second videos that could potentially go viral and reach massive numbers of viewers around the world. You might think a visual platform wouldn’t work for writers, but if your target audience is 18 – 29 years old, TikTok can be a great way to stand out and capture the attention of your readers. The social media experts at Web Design Relief have 5 tips to help you get your writing to go viral on TikTok.
How To Go Viral On TikTok And Build Your Audience
Does a visual platform work for writers? Yes! BookTok, a TikTok community posting videos reviewing and recommending books, is just one example of how you can reach your readers using this video medium.
As with most social media platforms, TikTok employs an algorithm to determine what content its users see. To get more views on your videos, you’ll have to tailor your content specifically to TikTok. Your basic SEO skills will be useful, but there are also specific actions you can take to boost your odds of going viral:
Get to the point. The average attention span of viewers has been getting shorter for some time, but TikTok takes brevity to another level. With a near-infinite supply of videos available, users don’t give new content more than a second or two of their time—unless it catches their interest. Showing something impactful at the very start of your video is a good way to grab attention and generate an audience, who will then give you likes and shares. And the number of people who watch your video to the end can improve your ranking in the algorithm.
Follow the trends. TikTok viewers follow what’s trending. Since TikTok’s unique format allows you to borrow audio and songs from other videos, it’s easy to drop your video in among the viral powerhouses to increase its reach. Just remember, copycatting other videos frame for frame won’t get you very far—you have to put your own spin on it!
Just like songs, popular hashtags are also tracked by the algorithm. If you can link your book announcements to current popular topics, you’re much more likely to attract interested viewers.
Pro tip: Some TikTok users believe hashtags like #fyp or #foryou will help your videos show up in other users’ feeds. It’s uncertain whether this is true, but since people keep trying, these hashtags are consistently among the most popular!
Know your target audience. When you post new content on TikTok, the app doesn’t immediately show it to everyone. Instead, your video will appear on the For You page for a small group of users who regularly interact with content like yours. Whether your video’s reach keeps growing after that depends on how this first group reacts—so it’s important to know what appeals to your demographic. Posting about life events unrelated to your writing is likely to muddy your message and make it harder for your videos to reach the right viewers. Instead, be consistent in your topics to build a reliable follower base.
Avoid the blacklist. While there is no official statement about what TikTok filters for, you can be confident that mentions or depictions of violence, nudity, and adult language will all be censored. The filters also catch videos that contain regulated or controlled substances, like alcohol, marijuana, or drugs, or that reference the LGBTQ+ community. If your writing includes or references any of these topics, you may need to find a way to talk around them to avoid a shadow ban that will limit the discovery of your content.
Follow good social media practices. There are some basic rules that apply to all social media platforms which can help you get the most reward for your efforts. Post new content as often as possible—every day or even multiple times a day. Respond to messages, questions, and feedback from your followers so they feel a connection to you and your content. Use your bio to redirect users to your author website or other social media account, and put links back to your TikTok profile on those platforms.
With these tips, your video has a better chance of going viral on TikTok. But remember, you don’t want to simply grow a following on TikTok—you want to effectively grow your author brand!
Question: Which authors have you seen on TikTok?