How TikTok Content Goes Viral

Blog Author
Ruby Yu
September 14, 2023
1:40 pm

TikTok began life as 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 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.

Have some great content to work with marketing. That means finding tiktok songs that will get your followers moving.

What is Considered Viral on TikTok?

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. 

  • For You: Virality isn’t necessarily tied to following certain users because users scroll their For You feed. They can however follow certain users, but the algorithm is very accurate in delivering what users like. 

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.  

  • Time Sensitivity: Attention is short on TikTok and it’s all about being current, so if you post tomorrow on today’s popular topic, you’re often too late. 
  • Trendiness: Trends come and go, as Twitter’s Trending section has shown for years before the rise of TikTok. Stay piped in and you’ll know where to start.
  • Authenticity: Anyone can follow a trend, but authentic angles on it are hard to find. Even if your take isn’t fresh, make sure it’s representative of yourself. 

How the TikTok Algorithm Works

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. 

  • User Interactions: There are layers of interaction you have with people on TikTok. They can broadly be separated into nine categories: 1. viewing videos 2. liking videos 3. commenting on videos 4. following accounts 5. watching videos until the end. 6. favorited videos 7. videos you create 8. creators you hide 9. videos you flag as uninteresting. 
  • Video Information: The algorithm pulls information from each video to help serve up to you content you would probably like. Hashtags help categorize the content and tell the algorithm what the video is about. Audio is identified when it is trending and delivered to those who already like the musician or broader content category. Captions tell the algorithm what a video is about, beyond just describing it to the user. 
  • Device & Account Settings: These details help optimize performance for a particular account.

Characteristics of Viral TikTok Posts

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. 

  • Trendy: Be relevant to the moment, and always stay tapped in. 
  • Attention-Grabbing: You have 3 seconds to grab your audience’s attention. 
  • Funny: Everyone loves to laugh, so if you’re funny, you’ll do fine on TikTok.
  • Hashtag-Friendly: To get the algorithm to share your videos, you have to inform it with hashtags.
  • Bite-Sized: To ensure people watch your content to completion, and thus have the algorithm share it more, make sure it’s short.
  • Interactive: Duet and Stitch features allow you to copy a part of a video or the whole thing and make your video alongside or after it as it plays and ride the wave of trending content.
  • Controversial: Emotional reactions always come from controversy, so an easy way to induce virality is by making posts that inspire polarizing emotions. 
Tiktok for social media marketing is a great platform because it's so interactive and engaging.

Examples of Viral TikTok Content

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. 

  1. Dancing: Drone 

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. 

  1. Cute Pets: Dog Painting

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. 

  1. Behind the Photography: Oranges

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. 

  1. Satisfaction: Restocking

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. 

  1. Funny: Frog

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.

Trendpop's tiktok marketing tip is to consider incorporating fun dancing videos into your strategy.
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