Since its launch in 2017, TikTok has rocketed in popularity to become one of the biggest social media platforms. TikTok boasts impressive user statistics, with 732 million monthly active users (MAU) and approximately 690 million daily active users (DAU) globally (both figures excluding China). When including the Chinese version of the app, Douyin, TikTok/Douyin is the 7th most used social media platform globally.
TikTok’s success as a social media giant is due in part to its virality. The huge user base, highly trainable algorithm, and popular sounds/filters/effects/hashtags all combine to create an immensely viral social media platform.
The Ingredients of TikTok Virality
Algorithm, Sweet Algorithm
TikTok’s algorithm is known for being accurate and second-to-none in terms of social media suggested content algorithms. There have been attempts to recreate the TikTok virality and near-perfect algorithm, but no other platform comes close in terms of accuracy and usefulness.
On the user end, the algorithm is highly trainable and you’re able to curate a very personalised feed. For creators, you have a good shot at your content reaching a wide audience, sometimes seemingly by chance or luck – you’ve no doubt read countless stories now of ‘overnight’ TikTok sensations.
Forbes predicts that TikTok will keep growing and broadening its appeal in 2021, down to 4 key reasons:
- Constant improvements to its second-to-none algorithm and data sets,
- The ease of training the algorithm as a user,
- Highly accurate targeting and connecting of micro-cultures,
- For creators, the barriers to entry are low.
The For You Page
TikTok’s amazing algorithm culminates with the For You page. The For You page is a tab on the TikTok app which pulls content together that the algorithm thinks you’ll enjoy. This page is usually highly targeted, and based on several factors such as your viewing/commenting/liking habits, your location, accounts you follow, and more, contributing to the potential of TikTok virality.
Popular music is a big driver of TikTok virality. Songs and artists can have overnight and/or explosive success due to the platform. In 2020, 176 songs reached at least 1 billion video views on TikTok through the sound tag and associated hashtag, with made-for-TikTok #ToosieSlide by Drake the fastest to 1 billion.
Not only can TikTok shoot new artists to fame, but older music can gain modern popularity. From Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams to Boney M.’s Rasputin, TikTok has revitalised many songs from a few years to decades old.
Republishing TikToks to Other Platforms
Due to TikTok’s success throughout 2020, many other platforms have introduced ways to share short-form video content on their apps as well. Two notable features are Instagram’s Reels and YouTube’s Shorts, both of which feature a mix of original content and repurposed TikTok videos. Sharing your TikTok videos across other social media channels is just one way to increase the popularity and virality of your TikTok account and boost views/reach.
When sharing an already-posted TikTok, there is a visible TikTok & username watermark, to help combat content stealing. However, on Instagram, your Reels will be ‘punished’ for featuring a TikTok watermark. To get around this and repurpose your TikTok content on Instagram and other platforms, simply download the finished video to your camera roll before you post it to TikTok. Of course, this only works for your own videos – we do not endorse stealing another creator’s content!
TikTok Case Studies: Brand Content
Typically, it’s individual users and content creators who become viral on TikTok, but that isn’t always the case. There are a few brands and businesses on TikTok killing the content game and reaching impressive view and follower counts on the platform. You can never guarantee viral success, but there are best practices that we can learn from successful brand content on TikTok.
Ryanair started a TikTok account in May 2020, with their first video pertaining to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a return to air travel. Since then, they have amassed almost 620k followers and over 13.4m likes across their videos. In terms of video views, they frequently reach over 1m views, with some videos reaching 4m views and above.
One of their most popular TikTok videos is this humorous take on ‘clapping when the plane lands,’ sparking a debate in the comments around clapping vs not clapping. Another very popular TikTok of theirs is this take on the expectations vs reality meme, coupled with a trending ‘sound’, with a behind-the-scenes look at “what [their] TikTok guy does”.
@ryanairI spent 4 years in college to master my craft #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #ryanair♬ september on crack ft. a recorder (Earth, Wind & Fire – September) – frickin weeb
Some of their most popular videos use the “I’m Lost” effect assistant to add the creator’s eyes and mouth on top of green-screened images and photos. These videos do well in terms of comments/engagement and creating shareable, humorous content.
@ryanairPassport ✅ Mask ✅ Nuggets ✅ #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #ryanair♬ original sound – Spinmovin
What do all of these popular TikToks from Ryanair have in common? Essentially, they all had a human, personal and humorous aspect to the company’s content. Videos typically contain debate-worthy and/or relatable sentiments regarding flying, holidays, airports, and other travel-related topics. This increases their shareability factor and encourages genuine engagement from followers, customers, and those who stumbled across the video on their For You page.
You already know that Innocent have an incredible social media presence, but did you know they have a TikTok account now too? Well, probably, because they have over 1m likes and hundreds of thousands of views on most of their TikToks.
Similar to Ryanair, they also drive engagement with humour and relatable topics, and use the “I’m Lost” effect to add faces to personify their products, add a reaction to a green screen image/video, or sing along to a popular song (or a mixture of these).
Innocent also point out the absurdity of their TikTok videos and mock themselves, identifying the human behind the content with videos featuring lines such as “Maybe you should stop using that filter and do some actual marketing” and “when someone asks how close we are to being fired”. This is a common feature of their social media presence, creating the illusion of ‘breaking the brand voice’ while actually upholding the brand voice and identity.
@innocentdrinksWe think our boss might’ve found our TikTok account. #almostthere #dontbesurprised #buysmoothies♬ Almost there – Cayden🏙
They also make sure to respond to customer/follower comments and continue with their friendly, funny tone. From relatable “we haven’t changed out of our pyjamas in 6 months” to agreeing that their videos are the best marketing videos of all time, Innocent know they’re killing the TikTok game, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.