TikTok began life as Musical.ly in China. US users took the most notice and made videos of themselves lip-syncing to songs until the popularity of this platform overtook Facebook and Instagram on the iOS store. Once Live.ly added video to the platform and celebrities started using it, it gained enough notice to be purchased by ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.
In the second half of 2018 alone TikTok went from 7 to 2 in the US most downloaded app list. In 2018 Snapchat also realized that TikTok was its biggest advertiser and adversary, spending nearly a billion annually on Snap ads alone. Now, advertisers are moving away from Snapchat as it brings the worst returns of any platform. TikTok is dominant, which makes learning how to create viral content on TikTok essential.
Bite-sized pieces of content that showcase entertaining content—comedy skits, music, informational explainer videos—are what goes viral on TikTok. Essentially TikTok has reframed content as shorter and content creation as easier, meaning virality happens faster and brands and celebrities can blow up, or crash down, seemingly overnight. This also means that creators of all types need to be able to replicate success more often.
Fortunately, there’s a sort of formula you can use whether you’re a celebrity, business, or unknown creator: keep up with trends, post a video at the right time, and be your authentic self. TikTok is representative of the fun of the moment, nothing more, so if you are tapped in, you’ll always have sources of content.
The accuracy of TikTok’s For You Page (more popularly known as the “#FYP”) is made up of three metrics: user interactions, video information, and device/account settings.
Short, positive, and engaging videos that encourage a response do best on TikTok. Intuitively we all know this, but producing this type of content consistently is difficult, with many people making videos regularly without knowing exactly why some blow-up and others fall flat.
We’ll keep it current with five popular 2021 viral videos to illustrate examples of content that shows how to go viral on TikTok. Remember, there is no predicting exactly what will blow up, but there are the general guidelines above that induce likelihood. Most accounts can’t replicate their biggest numbers very often, so there is certainly an egalitarian nature to the platform in that a bit of luck is required to go viral. Below are videos with their respective categories; remember, certain types of content do well, so focus on which you do best.
This drone dancing video received over 300M views. If you heard a description of the video it might not seem like much, but that camera’s 360-degree angle takes it to another level.
This dog painting a flower hit 1.4M views. Pet videos have been on the internet, at least YouTube, since the very beginning. But there’s still room to impress with this evergreen content form centered around cuteness.
Photographers get the chance to showcase their process on TikTok, as opposed to just showcasing the final process on other platforms like Instagram. This one gives you an appreciation of all the work that goes into an orange-slice selfie.
Have you ever watched a satisfaction video? It’s a simple yet pleasing concept: show someone performing a routine task that highlights orderliness, like squeezing Play-Doh through a tube or cleaning up a spill to absolute spotless perfection. Or, as in this case, restocking a kitchen.
Some videos need no real explanation. In this video, a frog wearing a scarf and sunglasses takes a road trip with his (or her?) bestie to the tune of 4.7M likes and 107M views.
By now you should have a much better idea about how TikTok content goes viral. If you can create consistently entertaining, ideally funny, short-form content that catches the eye and takes people out of the day-to-day for just a matter of seconds, you’ll be successful on this still-growing platform.