TikTok had, by far, its most successful year in 2020. Throughout worldwide lockdowns, its user base grew and grew, officially cementing it as a top-tier social media platform, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The great news is that the platform is still growing. There are major wins to be had on the platform. So, how do you grow and reach virality?
A huge part of how you grow and reach new audiences is your TikTok ‘account authority’. From the very top accounts (Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and Zach King) to the account you just created today -- all of these are given a grading by TikTok’s algorithms. These algorithms are determining how great your videos are and how good your account is overall.
By having a high account authority ranking, you’re able to achieve virality a lot quicker. This is because the TikTok algorithm doesn’t have to vet your performance metrics so much.
So, what are some of the key things you can do to improve your TikTok authority?
When you create a new account on TikTok, you don’t want to use your first 5 - 10 video as a testing ground for ideas. You need to hit the ground running. Make sure that your first videos are really original and unique.
It’ll help you a lot if you can plan ahead. Choose what your account is going to be about. For example, if your first five videos are drone aerials, the TikTok algorithm will determine ‘this is a drone aerials account’. However, if you post one drone aerial, two (hilarious) pranks, one car shoot and a dance routine? The genre and type of content you’re posting is very scattergun. The algorithm won’t be able to determine what type of account you are and this can impact on how well your future videos perform.
As tempting as it may be to delete a video that isn’t performing very well, don’t do it!
Deleting videos impacts your TikTok account authority because if you’re constantly deleting your videos that don’t perform well after the first few hours or days, TikTok then views your account as one that has a high rate of poor-performing videos.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the life cycle of exposure on TikTok is different to other platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook where the content disappears from feeds after 24 hours. On TikTok, it can be restarted at any moment and suddenly gain traction - something that’s been termed the “delayed explosion."
As mentioned with those first 5-10 videos, pick a niche and try to stick to it. The better your content sticks to a theme, the more you’ll grow. You need to be patient in the early days and build an initial core fan base around one theme or idea. If you start moving away from this, your account authority will reset because suddenly, the content is new and clearly different to what you were previously established as and known for.
This is the key to growing your TikTok authority. Each and every video you post is passing through different viewing tiers. In order to progress to the next level, it must pass a series of evaluations being made by the TikTok algorithm. These evaluations are based on the overall performance of your video and how well it achieved the following within each associated tier:
This process of evaluation lasts about two hours from the moment you post, so it’s really important that you pick the right time to post! Find your prime time - the period of the day where the largest number of users (specifically people who will be interested in your content) are active.
Now that you understand how the evaluation system works, here are the different tiers your video can pass through:
Now, depending on how good your videos are and how committed you are, you will be able to ‘“skip” certain levels of content distribution. The better your TikTok authority, the less TikTok has to vet your metrics each time. So if you have good account authority, you could post videos that automatically go to tier 3, where they achieve 300,000 views each time.
Heading into 2021, there are new and exciting updates coming to TikTok.
TikTok is experimenting with longer form video. It’s been reported that some accounts with over 100,000 followers are being allowed to create and post videos that are up to 3 minutes in length - triple the current 60-second cap.
This should come as no surprise. This is a clear sign that TikTok is levelling up, looking to establish TikTok as a “household name” alongside Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and others. We’d argue that they’re already there but this move to longer video duration is a smart (and welcome) one.
It will undoubtedly attract more creators, no matter their age or niche. The classic stereotype of TikTok is that the platform is only for cringey dance routines. A lot of creatives have found that the 60-second cap is very limiting. TikTok has heard this and reacted. A lot of users are now reporting that their content is starting to perform better when it’s over 40 seconds long.
The stereotypes of this platform are outdated. The nature of content has expanded far beyond dance routines and lip syncing. Throughout the year, expect to find certain integrations appearing, including commercial avenues opening up. Just like Instagram added the swipe up link option to Instagram Stories, links in video could very soon be a thing for TikTok. There are several cases of businesses coming on board and experiencing tremendous growth with millions of followers.
With Instagram Reels looking to muscle in on the action, TikTok is looking to promote and take advantage of its best unique selling proposition. For example, the platform has a great FX library and is pushing videos that make use of this. In recent months and weeks, camera effects such as clone photos, time warp, and I’m a ghost have all been trending. If you tap into this, you may well receive a helpful boost from the algorithm!
So, that’s the not-so-elusive TikTok algorithm cracked for you. Using this inside info, you can dive right in to TikTok, establish real authority and ensure that your videos achieve virality quicker than ever before, helping to share and spread your message to a new audience.
As you can see, once it’s broken down into these bite-sized steps that are easy to follow and understand, it’s nowhere near as daunting as you perhaps thought. Stick to the winning formula (but remain vigilant as it changes) and you’ll quickly grow!
Josh Edwards is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, and storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK). He’s really passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films.
Josh is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, and storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK). He’s really passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films.