Let’s face it, with everyone stuck inside due to COVID, there has been an influx of new TikTok’ers (is that what we call ourselves?) on the app...me being one of them. I figured, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. So I called on my good friend, and (unofficial) TikTok guru, Holly Obbee for some tips on optimizing my content for the platform. Holly managed to grow her dogs TikTok account to over 70k followers in only a couple of months. She came through with some great tips that’ll help you beat the TikTok algorithm and get your content in front of more eyeballs.

TIP #1 Film In the App

The TikTok overlords prefer when you use the in-app camera to film your videos. This is their way of making sure that you are, in fact, a real person and you’re uploading original content.. That’s not to say that your camera roll videos won’t make for great TikToks but make sure you film a couple of videos here and there directly in the app.

Bonus Tip: Make use of as many features as possible. Add text, use effects, transitions, sounds and/or voice overs.

TIP #2 Be mindful of your screen real estate

Now, if you’re familiar with TikTok, you’ll know that there’s a lot of text and graphics on screen. You have your caption on the bottom and the comment, like, follow and share options on the right side. You don’t get a preview of that before you post, so always make sure you keep all of your text inside the parameters of the visible area. This way, your audience is more likely to stick around to watch your whole video.

TIP #3 Don’t be afraid to re-upload

If you post a video that you think is a real knee slapper, and it doesn’t perform well...either your video isn’t funny OR you happened to post at the wrong time of day. Now, there is no magic hour that dictates whether or not your video will do well, but if the first few people to see your post, love it and engage with it, that will help push it out to more people. So don’t be discouraged if your knee slapper doesn’t get the views you hoped for. Just try again another day at a different time and you might be surprised. Or...your video just wasn’t funny lol ;)

TIP #4 Don’t be fancy

The appeal of TikTok is reminiscent of the early days of YouTube. The content on there is raw, it’s relatable, it doesn’t involve fancy cameras or lighting, it’s just a bunch of people talking to their phones. So don’t get hung up on busting out the DSLR and the shotgun mic. Just stick to the basics. When people are scrolling through the for you page and see something that looks highly produced, their gut reaction is to think it’s an ad and just keep on scrolling. You might think that higher production value would lead to more views but it’ll actually work against you. If you’re a filmmaker and you’re bummed about that, use TikTok to flex different creative muscles instead. Use TikTok to practice the art of storytelling, rather than camera work!

TIP #5 Hashtags

Coming from the world of Instagram where we often use as many hashtags as possible, the TikTok hashtag game might feel a little strange. This tip came straight from an employee at TikTok so you know it’s legit. She recommends using only 3-5 hashtags but keep each one relevant to your niche. Using broad hashtags like #fyp will result in your video being buried by loads of content that has nothing in common with yours.

PROTIP: Before you post, in the description box, you have the #hashtags and @friends buttons. When you hit the #Hashtags button, you’ll see a bunch of suggested tags for your video. Tags with the clock beside them are tags you’ve used in the past that TikTok thinks you should use again. Tags with the fire beside them are hashtags that are trending right now.

TIP #6 Use trending audio

Using trending audio is sort of similar to using hashtags. When you add a song to your video, your video is then grouped with all of the other videos that have used that same audio. This just gives your video more opportunities to be seen by more people.

TIP #7 Put your own spin on trends

TikTok is allllll about the trends...trending audio,dances, challenges...you get the point. What you don’t want to do is recreate exactly what you see in these trending videos. Where’s the fun in that? People are more likely to just scroll past it if it’s something they’ve already seen before. So put your own spin on it. Make each trend your own by tailoring it to your niche and letting your own personality shine.

TIP #8 Watch time is key!

TikTok is a prime example of how short our attention spans have become. You only have 15 - 60s of each person's time and even then, they may not stick around that long. You want to hook them in immediately to make sure they watch your whole video. You can do this by either having a really strong intro, something that builds suspense and hints to your viewer that there’s something worth waiting for at the end. You can also accomplish this by using text on screen or in the caption to get that same point across. The goal is to have your audience watch 100% of your video. It’s better to create a shorter video with a higher watch time than a longer video with a shorter watch time.

PROTIP: It’s important to understand the business aspect of TikTok. They sell ad space in between videos on the For You Page. They want their users to hang around on the app for a long as possible so they can sell more ads. In order to get users to keep scrolling, they have to make sure to put the most interesting and engaging content on the For You Page...and that’s where you and your strong intro/caption come into play.

TIP #9 Start a series

Similar to having a strong intro/caption, a series will not only encourage people to watch your whole video, but it will encourage them to follow you! When you start a series think about showing the process of something from start to finish over the course of a couple of parts. Take the viral #sheshed series for example. Chloe (or @yorkielover2020) made a 10 part series of her home renovation project and it caused her account to blow up to over 2 million followers and each one of her videos has a minimum of 1 million views..some even reach upwards of 20 million views. Because of the way that TikTok is formatted, when you see a video on your For You Page but you don’t like, save, favorite or follow, it becomes nearly impossible to find it again amidst all of the other content. So starting a series that people will want to follow through to the end encourages them to follow your account to stay up to date.

TIP #10 Engage in the comments

This is one that pertains to all social media platforms. It’s in the name, SOCIAL media. This is a place designed for you to interact with other users, especially those who engage with your content. Think of it like this; if someone complimented your work in person, you wouldn’t respond with a fist bump and a fire emoji, you’d thank them for watching and spark up a conversation. When you’re replying to comments, take the time to post a genuine response. Everyone likes to know that they’ve been heard, so acknowledging and engaging with those comments will encourage those people to follow for more of YOU. After all of those tips, the most important thing to remember is that TikTok is a place to have fun and be creative! So go out there, have some fun and make some dope ass TikToks!