Blog Social Media Marketing How to Go Viral on TikTok: 10 Essential Strategies (+ Examples)

How to Go Viral on TikTok: 10 Essential Strategies (+ Examples)

How to Go Viral on TikTok: 10 Essential Strategies (+ Examples)
Joe Tobin
Editor
How to Go Viral on TikTok: 10 Essential Strategies (+ Examples)
Joe Tobin
Editor

After bouncing around tech start-ups and university literature programs, Joe has finally settled down as Billo’s Head of Content. Joe now spends his days writing ads about ads, teaching clients how to craft killer content, and combing through our web copy with a bold red Sharpie.

Tom Slipkus
Tom Slipkus
Writer
Tom Slipkus
Tom Slipkus
Writer

Tom Slipkus is an email strategist helping SaaS companies onboard users, reduce churn, and drive sales in the process. When he’s not digging through customer research or coming up with the perfect subject line, Tom also pens insightful articles about marketing and building lasting relationships with customers.

how to go viral on tiktok

TikTok has enjoyed an unparalleled rise in popularity, enjoying a 1239% U.S.-based user growth rate from 2018 to 2023. With 68% of active TikTok users between the ages of 18 and 34, it’s become the social media platform for getting in front of a younger audience.

But while many brands are using paid TikTok advertising to boost their content, generating organic views is often a challenge. That’s because traditional branded videos rarely work on the platform, with promotional or generic content often getting buried by the algorithm because of low engagement.

The good news is there are strategies you can use to increase your chances of success as a brand. If you tweak your approach to match TikTok and cater to the platform’s audience, you can get your videos to go viral and build your own loyal community in the process.

So, if you’re wondering, “How to make my TikTok go viral?”, read on to discover ten strategies you can use, plus examples of brands that made the platform a central part of their identity.

viral tiktok age stat

How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work?

TikTok uses a sophisticated algorithm to determine which videos will be displayed to users. Understanding the basic principles of how the algorithm works is essential for using it to your advantage and getting more of your videos picked up.

TikTok doesn’t publicly disclose the programming of its algorithm, but you can understand how it works based on the platform’s video recommendation process. Here are the main factors that influence how many people see your videos:

  • Initial engagement: Probably the biggest factor in how well a video ranks is engagement, especially in the initial hours and days after its release. If people interact with your video by watching, liking, or commenting, TikTok will likely show it to more people with similar interests, building on the initial momentum.
  • Video details: Another key factor in whether your video gets picked up is the information you provide. When figuring out how to get viral on TikTok, one of the key things you’ll need to master is choosing the right hashtags, captions, and sounds to attract the right audience.
  • Device and settings: TikTok aims to provide a seamless viewing experience, so it will prioritize videos based on the device being used to ensure good performance. It will also consider other settings such as language and country, which is something you should also consider if your content is aimed at an audience in a particular area.
viral tiktok algorithm

Can You Manufacture TikTok Virality?

The performance of TikTok content can be all over the map. One video may do extremely well in terms of views but have mediocre engagement. Another seemingly similar video may not get as many views but get people to engage much better. Finally, some videos will just tank and barely get views, despite your efforts.

But while understanding the reasons for the TikTok algorithm’s process can be a challenge, some clues can give insights into why some videos do better than others.

For example, a higher number of TikTok followers usually means that the video’s viewership will peak a bit faster. But that’s not surprising, considering that more followers means more initial views and shares, which helps the algorithm pick it up faster as well.

What can be more difficult to pinpoint is why some videos from the same account gain much more traction than others. That’s where you won’t find a lot of data that can give insights into the causes.

Until that type of research becomes available, the best bet for companies who want to create viral videos will have to rely on a combination of strategies that can have a positive impact on performance. The good news is that these strategies can have an accumulating effect, increasing your chances if you combine and use them regularly.

tiktok viral analytics

How to Go Viral on TikTok

There are countless ways to give your TikTok video a better chance of going viral. Let’s explore ten of the most effective strategies you should be using in 2024.

Define Your Audience

TikTok has more than a billion active monthly users. But the majority of them are probably not interested in your brand and products. To figure out how to go viral on TikTok, you need to use that to your advantage, choosing to go narrow to capture the attention of the right people and get them to engage.

To do that, start with your audience, analyzing their interests, problems, and habits. Once you do that, figuring out how to create content around the things they care about will become much easier.

Of course, not all viral TikTok content is niche-oriented. But as a brand, you need to consider whether the content you’re creating helps you accomplish business goals, such as raising brand awareness or bringing in new leads.

Achieving these types of goals means you need to be deliberate about what you create, how you promote it, and what strategies you use when engaging viewers on TikTok.

viral tiktok audience age

Follow the Trends

TikTok trends change fast. But while they come and go in a matter of days, that can actually serve you if you manage to tap into a current trend and leverage it to boost your views.

If you can utilize a popular format, audio clip, or topic, that can allow your video to ride the wave of views and engagement that the trend is currently enjoying, giving your account a huge boost that can result not just in views but in a rapid increase of followers.

But how can you figure out what’s currently hot on TikTok?

The easiest way to do that is to engage with TikTok from the perspective of a typical user. A good place to start is to look at your For You page, which displays content that the TikTok algorithm thinks you’ll enjoy.

Even five or ten minutes of scrolling will likely give you a pretty good understanding of what types of videos are popular right now, as you’ll likely see at least a few different videos following the same format or around the same idea. As you’re identifying the trends, think about how you could implement them to create relevant content around your brand and products.

It’s also a good idea to keep track of your competitors. While you shouldn’t copy their ideas, you may discover challenges to participate in or topics to cover from your perspective.

The important thing to consider is that since TikTok trends don’t last long, you need to be fast and get that content out quickly if you don’t want to be late to the party once you’re ready to publish.

following viral tiktok trends

Take Advantage of Hashtags

Hashtags play a crucial role in how content is displayed on user feeds, so you need to be deliberate about what hashtags you use to get it in front of people who are likely to be interested.

First and foremost, prioritize hashtags that are relevant to your niche and to the people you want to reach. Simply inserting a bunch of trending hashtags may get your video displayed, but it probably won’t result in much engagement, which will make it harder to go viral.

If you do use trending hashtags, make them relevant to your video. For example, you can participate in a trending challenge, using the keyword to tap into a larger audience.

But how many hashtags should you use? The often-cited sweet spot is around 4-6 hashtags, with video, search, and audience-specific hashtags included in the mix. Use a couple more general hashtags for a wider reach, but make the others relevant and specific to your audience and brand.

viral tiktok hashtags fyp

Select the Right Music

Even though TikTok is a video platform, music plays a huge role in how much traction a video gets. In fact, 88% of users say that sound is an essential part of the TikTok experience. The platform makes it easy to add audio to your videos, offering a huge library of various sounds you can use to make your content more engaging.

But while you’re free to use any sounds or music you see fit, it’s a good idea to check out which sounds are trending right now. Sounds are often an important part of viral video trends, so if you want to build on a specific trend, it makes sense to use a soundtrack that makes it immediately recognizable.

What’s more, the TikTok algorithm can actually boost your videos if it uses trending sounds. Because many users are engaging with videos using the same sounds, TikTok will be more likely to boost videos it deems to be similar.

Find Your Hook

The first seconds of your video are by far the most important. If you don’t instantly hook your viewers and get them to stick around, you won’t have time to impress them later because they’ll scroll on.

You need a big idea that instantly captures attention and breaks the pattern of their feed. And you can use a few effective data-backed strategies for creating a hook that will be more likely to succeed:

  1. Start with a strong emotion: People are wired to respond to emotion. If your video starts with someone showing excitement or surprise, that can trigger a subliminal response, nudging the person to continue watching to see how the video progresses.
  2. Lead with your CTA: Using your CTA in the opening frame may seem counterintuitive, but ads that feature it see a 44% increase in click-through rate, as well as better engagement.
  3. Use voice effects: TikTok users are used to a range of voice filter effects, so adding them to your video can better match expectations, boosting engagement in the process.
  4. Highlight the key message: Many of the best TikTok business videos lead with a big promise or a problem the target viewer is facing to provide instant context about what the video will offer.
viral tiktok thumbnails

Be Entertaining

People come to TikTok to have fun. So even if your ultimate goal is to reach your audience and help them discover your solutions, you need to be entertaining if you want your videos to have a chance of going viral.

Luckily, you can provide useful information and add value for your audience while still matching their expectations as TikTok users. Here are a few effective strategies you can consider:

  1. Use humor: If you can make your viewers laugh, you’ll already be well on your way to cracking the code on how to go viral on TikTok. The trending section is full of funny and original videos, so consider how you can inject humor into your message to make it more engaging.
  2. Keep it brief: TikTok videos can be as long as three minutes, but you need to carefully consider whether you can keep your viewers’ attention for that long. More often, you will probably do better with short videos of around 15-60 seconds, which is still plenty of time to share your message and get people to respond.
  3. Be relatable: One of the biggest mistakes businesses make on TikTok is trying to match the brand voice they use on their website. If you want to connect with the young audiences using TikTok, you need to find ways to become more relatable, showing the people behind the brand in ways that form connections.
  4. Add controversy: Controversy can be risky for brands, but if done right, it can also fast-track your way to a ton of views. If you have a message you truly stand behind that goes against the grain, it makes sense to lead with it in your content, injecting a new perspective around a topic your audience cares about.
tips how to go on tiktok

Make Your Videos Useful

When figuring out how to go viral on TikTok, being entertaining and instantly capturing attention are essential. But for a brand, going viral is not the ultimate goal but rather a means to achieve business results.

Unlike regular TikTok creators, businesses need to think about how growing their TikTok viewership will lead to better brand awareness, new leads, and more sales. Because of that, your videos need to have a framework that offers value to the people you want to reach.

In practice, that means you need to tie your content back to your solution, linking the problems you address or topics you cover with how your brand can help. For example, while your hook may revolve around a funny situation or a trendy format, you should connect that with your product and create a desire for people to learn more about your product.

One of the best ways to do that is to utilize storytelling. People are naturally more likely to respond to stories, so you should use the initial hook to set up the premise and then offer a resolution that highlights your brand and the way it helps people in your audience.

Post Often

Every video you post is a new opportunity for you to go viral. Because of that, it’s easy to see that a big part of figuring out how to make your TikTok go viral is being persistent and posting as often as possible. But besides the fact that quantity raises your chances, there are other benefits of posting often you should consider.

For one thing, when you create more content on TikTok, you can test different formats, using trends, music, CTAs, and other variables to determine what works best for your audience.

At the same time, each video you and your team create is a valuable learning opportunity, allowing you to get better at creating engaging content. You need to familiarize yourself with the platform and get good enough at making TikTok videos before you can consistently create viral hits.

Finally, as you post more often, you’ll condition your followers to expect new content. Whether you post daily or every few days, sticking to a schedule helps maintain momentum and receive more initial engagement that’s crucial when getting your content in front of as many people as possible.

Interact with Your Viewers

For brands on TikTok, the work doesn’t end after publishing the video. It could be argued that what you do after your video goes live can have an even bigger impact on its performance, especially if you’re a brand that’s still building its following and needs all the engagement it can get.

But since interacting with people in your audience takes time, you need to be strategic about the tactics you prioritize to maximize their impact and get your video that initial traction that helps it go viral.

Here are a few ways to interact with your video’s viewers:

  • Ask people to engage: If you want to have good engagement, you should encourage it in the video itself using a CTA that urges people to leave a comment. For best results, make the request specific, asking them a question that’s relevant to the video you created.
  • Respond to comments: Your viewers won’t be motivated to post comments if there’s no interaction. Building an authentic brand image can be challenging enough, so you need to make sure to respond to as many comments as possible, creating a two-way conversation.
  • Create interactive content: If you want to get your audience used to engaging with your content, you can create interactive videos that entice people to participate. With an Ask Me Anything (AMA) video, you can collect questions and answer them. You can also run a contest that asks people to create UGC around your video.

Post at the Right Time

Since TikTok virality can come down to the initial views your video gets, it’s not surprising that the time you post can have a significant impact on performance. As a general rule, posting at the right time means 1) knowing the peak hours of TikTok usage and 2) understanding your audience’s preferences and browsing habits.

According to research by Influencer Marketing Hub, the peak TikTok engagement times in the United States are:

  • Monday: 12 PM, 4 PM
  • Tuesday: 4 AM, 8 AM, 10 AM, 3 PM
  • Wednesday: 1 PM, 2 PM
  • Thursday: 5 AM, 3 PM, 6 PM
  • Friday: 1 AM, 11 AM, 7 PM, 9 PM
  • Saturday: 5 PM
  • Sunday: 1 AM, 2 AM, 1 PM, 2 PM, 10 PM

While these times can be a good starting point, it’s important to test them yourself and see how your audience engages and interacts with the content you post. Over time, you’ll be able to develop a posting schedule that consistently produces good initial engagement, which will get more of your videos to go viral.

Examples of Viral TikTok Videos

To get a better idea of how to go viral on TikTok, let’s explore a few examples of brands that do a great job on the platform.

Ryanair: 2.1M Followers | 35.5M Likes

In the past couple of years, the Europe-based budget airline Ryanair has built a huge social media presence thanks to its unique and quirky approach. Many of their posts center around common complaints from customers, creating funny videos that poke fun at their customers by highlighting the amazing value of the tickets despite the company’s supposed shortcomings.

@ryanair

We’re gonna charge you extra now ❤️

♬ original sound – The office quote.s

Ryanair uses memes, pop culture references, contests, and social media trends to create viral content that often gets millions of views on TikTok. Plus, the company posts often, always testing new formats and video types to see which ones generate the most views and engagement.

@ryanair

Benji is a good boy. be like benji! 🎵 @KhakiKid

♬ original sound – Ryanair

While some videos get 50-100 thousand views, many others become viral, generating millions or even tens of millions of views and helping Ryanair highlight its USP, boost brand awareness, and maintain its status as the largest low-cost airline in Europe.

Chipotle: 2.2M Followers | 53M Likes

Social media plays a key role in marketing for restaurant chains, and Chipotle is a great example of a brand that managed to tap into a younger audience using engaging content and a variety of successful viral campaigns.

The company created an authentic brand voice that works really well on TikTok, using user-generated content, contests, and challenges to get people involved and boost the views of their videos.

More recently, Chipotle has seen success with tapping into various TikTok trends, as well as holidays, to generate millions of views on individual posts.

@chipotle

is your school among the college towns that eat the most Chipotle? find out at link in bio. 👻 if ur college town is listed, order a $6 entrée* with code BOORITO until midnight on 10/31 👻 if u just want a burrito on Halloween, u can still order a $6 entrée* from any Chipotle from 3pm-close using code BOORITO in-app or online on 10/31 👻 *rewards membership & promo code req’d. Chipotle app/.com only. Terms: chipotle.com/boorito

♬ original sound – Chipotle

The brand is also taking a proactive approach to creating trends around its brand. Good examples are their launch of car napkin holders for people who hoard the brand’s napkins or renaming a KC restaurant “Chipolte” as a response to an old Travis Kelce Tweet that misspelled the brand’s name.

Using authentic brand-centered memes provides endless opportunities for creating funny content that people are much more likely to engage with and share.

Vessi: 164K Followers | 1.9M Likes

Vessi is an excellent example of a smaller brand that gets its brand noticed on social media through authenticity and engaging content. The company produces waterproof shoes and apparel, and it leans into that unique sales proposition in all of its branding and communications, creating a variety of content that showcases its products in action.

The company isn’t afraid to position itself against its bigger competitors, creating videos that showcase how Vessi products are superior to others.

@vessi

#duet with @Jenn Jensen if only there was a jacket that was *actually* waterproof

♬ original sound – Jenn Jensen

Another effective way Vessi generates views is by developing funny memeable content based on trends and popular videos, like this video using an audio excerpt from the hit Netflix show Cunk on Earth.

@vessi

Here to let you know you never need to feel wet socks again #waterproofshoes #summershoes #whitesneakers

♬ original sound – Vessi

Finally, Vessi creates content around people from the company, with many videos centering around office life, making the brand more relatable and authentic.

Bottom Line

Going viral on TikTok is one of the fastest ways to grow your audience and increase your reach. But while there’s no way to guarantee your videos will take off, following a few simple strategies and being consistent will get your videos to go viral sooner rather than later.

The good news is you don’t need a large budget or a designated production team to be popular on the platform. If you tap into the current TikTok trends and find a way to connect them with the authentic voice of your brand, you will build a loyal audience and turn TikTok into a key part of your marketing.

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