In November 2018, I joined the world of TikTok. I discovered its binge-ability and new-age video curation techniques that set it apart from other platforms of established social media.
It was clear the TikTok platform allowed others to share their message through short-form video content, and a new wave of content creation was on the way. However, at the time, the platform was dominated by the 15-year-old, newly converted Musical.ly users.
This youngness of the user base and confusing full-screen snap-swipe user interface deterred many from joining the platform. Yet, I saw a diamond in the rough and decided to invest time into creating content for this young platform.
And after a couple months (and a few flopped videos), I was on my way to creating a small following.
As of this writing, I have gained:
- 15k+ Followers
- 8 Million+ Total Video Views
- 2 Videos Make it to the Global Discover Page
- 1 Video “Featured” by TikTok
- 1 Video Banned (I thought it was funny)
- 1 Video Used for TikTok advertisements
- 1 Video Featured on the TikTok Global Instagram (20M+ Followers)
What I observed then dictated the content I made, how I engineered that content for success through TikTok’s algorithm, and the power of a 15-second video.
Before I get into the details of content creation, it’s worth understanding why TikTok is different than other existing forms of social media, and it’s informal predecessor, Vine.
In August 2018, ByteDance officially merged TikTok with it’s newly acquired lip-syncing video platform, Musical.ly. In the acquisition, ByteDance gained over 100 million users.
ByteDance was previously famous for its AI curation of news information in China and was searching for new applications of its technology. They started Douyin in China and identified Musical.ly as their path towards breaking into the American markets.
The plan was to revolutionize the way that the world consumes entertainment media. TikTok’s main page was thereby designed for addictiveness and an endless scroll of content. No repeats, limitations, or a half-second of boredom; everything was designed to keep you involved.
The AI (Artificial Intelligence) curation prioritized entertaining content. This allowed small accounts to gain followings and trends to multiply as every video was carefully curated to fit your previous liking and interactions.
I realized AI curation, and the promise of anyone to become an influencer (or muse, for those that know) was too desireable to be ignored for long. Thus, content that could be engineered to go viral or attract the attention of eyeballs the best would likely be a success.
My strategy for creating videos was as follows:
- Consume content to figure out what people currently enjoy
The most natural first step to success is to emulate other’s success. So that’s where I started. And, understanding the culture is critical toward creating for it.
2. Design an idea that follows a trend but has a twist
This rest of the hypothesis behind pop music: people like to hear something new and different, while having everything feel familiar.
3. Proof the concept in video
Filming is important, but editing can make or break a TikTok. I started with making rough proofs then investing time in editing if the idea proved viable.
4. Find a sound and carefully edit
Sounds are king on TikTok. If you can find a song/sound that fits your content or holds user attention, you’re much more likely for success.
5. Start the hype ball
I would reach out to close friends and family to force them to like the video. The first hour is vital for a TikTok’s success, make it count.
6. Accept the possibility of failure
Despite what you may have heard about TikTok making it easy to go viral, rarely do people nail it on the first try. Accepting the failure and learning from that allowed me to cultivate more engaging videos.
Of the 25 videos I made:
- Nine videos had greater than 10k views
- Seven of those had greater than 50k views
- Three had greater than 500k views
- Two had greater than 3 million views
I was by no means a hit factory or modern influencer, but I realized the ability that patterns and timing can make when delivering carefully planned TikToks. Just like anything else, creating videos and making TikToks is a skill that takes time, effort, and a little failure. But, with growth and understanding, you can get it right.
An online brand is incredibly important to the future and some even argue that online real estate is becoming an entirely new investment category. So, don’t be afraid to have some fun and try new tactics on TikTok.
Who knows, you could go viral for something as silly as pumping gas or messing around in a college dorm.
If you’d like to know more about TikTok, my thoughts on the curation algorithm, the impact video has on the modern digital age, or anything similar, feel free to reach out and let me know you’ve enjoyed.
You can reach me at email@example.com, on LinkedIn, or on TikTok as @corbinbalzan.