How to Go Viral on TikTok: Insider Tips and Tricks

Gatot Adri/Shutterstock, KVASVECTOR/Shutterstock, ART PAL/Shutterstock, Remix by Caterina Cox

Every content creator dreams of that first viral hit when they’re first starting out. If you’re wondering how to go viral on TikTok, the short answer is that there is no tried and true method. Sometimes viral success creeps up when you least expect it; sometimes it’s the result of years of hard work and trial and error until something snaps into place.

But just because you can’t predict it doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to increase your odds of racking up those views and unlocking the viral hit chapter of your career as a content creator.

How do videos go viral on TikTok?

While there’s no precise formula for determining what videos are going to go viral on any social media platform, understanding how the algorithm works can provide us a look behind the curtain at how it happens, at least.

TikTok keeps tabs on what types of videos viewers watch and whether they interact with them. This helps them determine which videos to push into an individual user’s “For You” page, where they can reach an audience beyond the creator’s usual viewers. The more people share and interact with a video, the more likely it is to keep gaining traction, and—in an ideal scenario—ultimately go viral.

How does going viral help TikTok creators?

For some people, having a video go viral is a fun novelty—just 15 minutes of internet fame. But if you are looking to grow your audience on TikTok, going viral can be a huge boost, especially if you’re well-prepared for it.

When hundreds of thousands of viewers get eyes on your viral TikTok, it only stands to reason that at least some of them will end up clicking on your page. If they like what they see, you could end up with scores of new followers, meaning more eyes on everything you’re making as well as monetization options (which you can learn more about here).

You don’t have to have a video go viral to be successful on TikTok, but it can certainly make building a career as an influencer or content creator easier.

How many views is ‘viral’ on TikTok?

Something going viral on the internet is just a broad term to express that it’s become popular to the point of being shared widely across social media. There is no numerical threshold that officially defines something becoming “viral.” Some people consider 250,000 views viral, whereas others believe something has to be seen closer to 2.5 million times to count. 

Read more about how how to get more TikTok followers, from a creator who tried to double her audience in 30 days by following advice from successful influencers

Laying the groundwork for going viral: How do I get my TikTok seen? What time should I post on TikTok?

Once you have a viral video on TikTok, you have a small window of time in which you are able to capitalize on the buzz and convince new viewers to become new followers. Some creators will have an easier time with this than others, and part of that comes down to who has already established their page and built good habits surrounding their work.

If you don’t want to let your own fleeting moment of TikTok fame pass you by, there are a few things you can make sure you’re doing now to ensure you’re prepared to take advantage of the extra attention when the time comes:

1. Post new videos regularly

Clicking on a TikToker’s handle only to discover their page hardly has any videos isn’t exactly a welcoming invitation to keep watching more content. Getting in the habit of posting new content at more or less regular intervals will provide you with a backlog of videos representative of who you are as a creator once your video does go viral.

2. Interact with viewers

The end goal is generally to build up your social media, which means you need engaged viewers. If you’re already getting comments on your works, try to take the time to appreciate viewers individually so as to form a connection and get them hyped about your new videos. This way, they’ll be more likely to share your TikToks and stick around in the future.

3. Create quality content

We all know that sometimes the videos that go viral on TikTok are not exactly brilliant cinema. That’s perfectly fine, but the surrounding circumstances are a little different when you want to be more than a one-hit wonder. We’ll dive into some specifics about the types of content that might go viral shortly, but making sure even your videos with lower view counts provide value can only help your subscriber count.

Read more about how the TikTok algorithm works

How to make your video go viral on TikTok

While no one can predict what videos might go viral, there are certainly methods creators can use to increase the likelihood of getting more views. Whether you’re specifically looking to craft a TikTok with the hope that it goes viral or just looking for more general tips and tricks, we have a few suggestions.

Seek out trends on TikTok so you can jump on them pretty quickly, before they die out and before the platform becomes oversaturated. Trending hashtags for challenges, events, or other things TikTokers are collectively talking about provide a great opportunity to jump into discussions, make your opinions known, or even put a fresh spin on something familiar.

You can also look into trending audio—sounds or snippets of music—and include them in your TikTokers. In either scenario, make sure your videos actually do relate to the trends you’re chasing. You don’t want to be the person who clogs the tags with completely unrelated content.

Read more about how to use hashtags on TikTok effectively.

2. Keep things short.

Over half of TikTok viewers find videos lasting over a minute to be “stressful.” Sometimes your content needs to be longer than that, but in general, making videos short and sweet is the ideal play.

There are all sorts of conflict reports as to how many seconds of a video a TikTok viewer will actually watch, but it seems staying under 30 whenever possible is a good call. Shorter videos are not only easier to watch and rewatch, but to share with friends.

3. Open with a bang.

Before viewers will watch even 30 seconds of your TikTok, you have to convince them that it’s worth their time. There are an infinite number of ways to hook an audience in those first few seconds, from saying something funny to choosing a great audio cue to teasing a twist to come via text. Ultimately, understanding your niche and specific content will help figure out the best way to get viewers to commit to the length of the video before they have time to swipe to the next option.

4. Hone those editing skills.

TikToks don’t need to be huge productions, but snappy editing and crisp text overlays even just via the basic TikTok editor will go a long way. If you have creators you admire who do a great job cutting between clips to keep things interesting, take the time to study what they do and figure out how to either match that or put your own twist on it. A big chunk of editing is making sure you have the right clips in the first place, so learning good editing practices may help enhance your filming, too.

Read more about video editors for TikTok

5. Leave viewers wanting more.

Are you hoping the hilariously awkward story of what happened when you and your friends were out the other night will go viral? Rather than sitting down up front and spelling out the whole story beat-by-beat, consider posting a short version with just the boldest highlights to get people interested and asking questions.

This 43-second video showing clips of three friends stepping and running the front desk of a hotel when they realized no employees were present is a great example. It eventually took them multiple longer TikToks to explain the full situation, but they created intrigue with the first video that had viewers begging to learn more.

6. Encourage interaction.

Getting a view is good, but getting a share is even better. Simply asking folks to share a TikTok likely isn’t going to cut it in this day and age, so creators have to get more clever. Top content creators often end videos with some sort of “call to action,” or something specific they would like their viewers to do. 

Look to your TikTok’s subject matter for ideas. Are you discussing a new Disneyland attraction and want to know what others think? Did you record a snippet of original music and could now encourage viewers to post a duet adding their own musical twist on top? A call to action might be more effective in the video itself, but you can also make a suggestion in the description box.

7. Don’t be afraid of controversy (within reason).

Taking bold stances, wading into controversies, and sharing opinions that leave emotions running high are often good ways to increase views and steer your TikTok toward going viral. If you opt for this route, though, make sure you’re emotionally prepared if you’re talking about something that could bring genuine backlash, and think it through before saying anything purely for shock value. There’s a difference between listing out the reasons why you hate a movie everyone else loves and putting out a video meant to offend or hurt people just for the sake of drumming up views. Stir the pot a bit, but don’t make the internet a worse place than it already is.

8. Educate and entertain.

We know people love coming to TikTok for laughs, but they also love to learn new things. Fun facts and helpful tips do well on the platform, particularly if they’re presented in an entertaining way. Bite-sized tidbits of information are easy to share, and it’s easy to get viewers excited about doing so. There’s a reason pages like @depthsofwikipedia are so popular, after all.

9. Start your own trend.

Using popular hashtags and audio snippets can help you go viral, but being the person who gets a trending hashtag started or creates an audio snippet that everybody else wants to use is next level. This option is more for the experienced TikToker, and it might take a number of tries before you succeed, but centering yourself and your content in a new trend that takes off can really bring in the views.

10. Cross-promote your content.

Surely you’re not just using TikTok, right? It isn’t necessary to be super active on every social media platform, but you can use sites like Instagram and Twitter to direct new and existing audiences to TikTok content they may have otherwise missed. It’s a good idea to have a strategy specifically for those sites that somehow includes additional content tailored for that platform, so that your feeds don’t become pure promotion for TikTok, but this is something you can experiment with to determine what works best for your needs.

Even if you set out with the intention to create a TikTok that goes viral, keep in mind that viewers generally place a lot of value on authenticity. Don’t lose sight of the brand that you’re building or any connection you may have established with your existing audience just to try to get a hit. Instead, look for ways you can incorporate these suggestions into your content with a unique twist that’s true to you, and you might just end up with that viral video sooner than you think.

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