We challenged ourselves to make a TikTok every day for one month straight to discover more about the platform. In this process, we accidentally made a TikTok that went viral with 200k views in 24 hours and is now sitting close to 500k views. Some people say that it’s beginner’s luck when in reality there were a lot of elements (that we now know) that contributed to the video gaining so much traction, here is what we learned.
What is TikTok?
TikTok, if you haven’t heard of the social media application TikTok by now, we would be incredibly impressed. When TikTok burst into the social media scene back in 2018, it was impossible to predict what a dominating force it would become. Today with well over two billion downloads, TikTok is the seventh most popular social networking app in the world. TikTok consists predominantly of short-form videos paired with a song or sounds made by users. Sounds are often comprised of snippets from movies or television series, allowing people to lip-sync to them, applying their own unique twist to follow the trends. Speaking of which TikTok is heavily influenced by current social trends and can consistently be used as a source of the big news going on around the world. The most recent case is the Jonny Depp v Amber Heard case.
How does content go viral on TikTok?
Like any other social media algorithm, TikTok curates content for its users by recommending videos similar to those the viewer has already engaged with. Unlike other platforms, the TikTok algorithm doesn’t account for the number of followers the creator has which is why people with 0 followers who upload a video can go ‘viral’ overnight. This means you are just as likely to see a video from someone with one million followers or someone with zero followers. Additionally, every single TikTok video gets the opportunity to go viral through a part of the app called the ‘For You’ page. Not every video will appear on the for you page, but each video has a chance to do so.
How we got 200k views in 24 hours
One of the elements that we did understand was before we even uploaded the video to TikTok, we ensured that we filmed the footage on an iPhone camera in a high-quality setting. Following this, we then changed the TikTok settings to allow for high-quality video uploads, so the resolution isn’t impacted as heavily. Avoiding filming on the TikTok application will also ensure you have higher-quality footage, making it more appealing to the viewer. Once in post-production, editing is key, as if the video is not edited in a visually pleasing or coherent manner, the viewer will find it difficult to follow the story behind the video. TikTok’s optimal video length for engagement is 21-32 seconds, which we made ours to be.
Another aspect that played a role in creating a successful video (which we found out) was choosing a trending sound while putting our own personal touch to it. The original purpose of the trend and sound was, “telling friends to come over at a certain time compared to what time they actually show up”. We took this trending sound and applied the idea within a work setting and made it “telling the team there is a 9 AM meeting vs what time they actually come in”. We then exaggerated the arrival time of each team member for comedic effect, also generating a fair amount of controversy. Due to the controversial nature of the video, we faced a fair amount of backlash from viewers who had strong opinions on punctuality, this resulted in them commenting, which boosted our engagement and helped our video gain traction within the TikTok algorithm. With the addition of some trending hashtags, our TikTok was well on its way to going viral.
Finally, the most important part of a TikTok is the first 2-3 seconds, as this is the crucial stage in which the viewer will decide to keep watching your video or simply scroll to the next one. With this in mind, we made sure we included the purpose of the video, a reason for watching the entire video, and finally, a trending sound that the viewer knows produces interesting videos. A crucial part of our success was that only the first 2 people were early to the meeting, so it enticed the viewer to keep watching to see how late the rest of the team would be. Once we had the viewer hooked at the start we held their attention for the duration of the video, and even encourage them to watch it more than once.
We had the perfect combination of high video quality, optimal video length, trending video idea and sound, great introduction, and of course a splash of controversy. We are looking forward to continuing our challenge of a new TikTok every day using this same formula to get another viral video.
Digital Media Coordinator