TikTok: your guide to growing your following organically

By Charlotte McClure, Content Marketing Editor

It’s easy to look at TikTok and feel overwhelmed, with millions of videos posted to the site daily, how can your health brand possibly stand out from the crowd?

When BabyCenter tasked our social media team to grow their TikTok channel we knew we had a challenge ahead of us. #babytiktoks are a multi-billion view industry and competition is fierce. It took time, experimentation, consistency, and creativity but in just seven months we grew the audience from 337 to over 11k.

BabyCentre UK’s TikTok following and engagement continues to grow at an impressive rate, regularly gaining 1,000 followers each month and millions of views. If these stats sound like they’d be music to your account manager’s ears, then read on, because we’d like to help you do the same.

Why you need TikTok for your social marketing

TikTok is a social app used to create and share short videos. It reached 1.6 billion users at the end of 2022 and is expected to reach 1.8 billion by the end of 2023. What was once a frivolous app for lip-syncing and dancing has turned into a powerful marketing tool that many brands have seen huge success on.

Its most mighty tool is the For You Page and the algorithm that populates it. It serves content based entirely on users’ interests and is uncannily good at predicting what videos will grab the viewers’ attention. For brands, this means there’s potential for reaching a massive audience, even if you don’t have a huge following.

But isn’t TikTok just for GenZ?

The TikTok demographic has changed in the last year or two. Although Gen Z continues to dominate the platform, it’s much more multi-generational now. Increasing numbers of Millennials, Generation X and even Baby Boomers are signing up and loving what they find. In fact, aside from those aged 50+ there’s an even spread of users. And if you’re trying to reach them, it makes sense to go where they are.

According to The Social Shepherd, these are the current age stats for TikTok:

  • 25% of users are 10-19
  • 4% of users are 20-29
  • 7% of users are 30-39
  • 3% of users are 40-49
  • 11% of users are 50+

So, what are the key ingredients for TikTok success? Here’s what we’ve learnt so far.

  1. Do your research before you start posting

It can be tempting to jump right in and post your first video immediately, but taking your time and getting a feel for the platform will help you to see where your content fits in. Have a peek at your competitor’s pages (it’s not a crime) to see what they’re posting and what type of content gets the most views. It’s also useful to check out big brands (with big marketing budgets) that you’re not in competition with, just to suss out their strategy or what’s working for them.

The hashtag #TikTokTaughtMe currently has 14.3 billion views, so sharing your knowledge or little-known facts might be a good starting point. And be creative. You can showcase your products or services but do it in a way that makes it valuable and/or entertaining to the viewer, otherwise, they’ll be swiping to the next video on their feed before you can say “TikTok”. More on this in our next tip…

  1. Aim to entertain as you educate

In our experience, the brands that give their viewers a hit of dopamine see the best results. Take language learning and translating resource Duolingo – its viral success was no accident. They used their green owl mascot Duo to create content that resonates with their target audience and makes learning a new language as fun as possible. Love it or hate it, the hard work has paid off and the account now boasts an impressive 6.7 million followers and counting.

Another example is Hobbycraft Wimbledon. Its humorous and quirky videos rocketed its following to over 24k, and the team even got a shoutout on KISS radio from Kylie Minogue after recreating the music video for her new song Padam Padam, featuring various types of red fabric. Free marketing with a huge audience!

  1. Run a challenge for maximum engagement

Many brands, such as fitness clothing brand Gymshark, have found success by creating their own TikTok challenge/competition. While Gymshark has a huge following on other social media platforms like Instagram, it has realised true growth via TikTok, and not by chance. Their first challenge, #Gymshark66, encouraged users to choose their own personal fitness goals and share before and after pictures using the campaign hashtag for a chance to win a year’s supply of their products. The hashtag generated over 193 million views. That’s a surefire way to gain followers and get eyes on your content.

  1. Use trending songs and sounds

TikTok is well-known for its viral sounds and songs. Using popular audio tracks in your videos greatly increases their discoverability and makes your content more relatable. According to TikTok for Business, 77% of users say they like it when brands use trends, memes, or challenges on TikTok to make new content.

And on the topic of trends, click the search button in the top right corner and you’ll see a list of trending topics, indicated with a flame emoji, and topics you may be interested in based on what you’ve already looked at. It’s a simple but handy way to see what content your target audience may be interested in. 

  1. Always add hashtags

Hashtags are every social media marketer’s right-hand man and a quick and easy way to get more visibility and reach. TikTok’s Trend Discovery tool is the perfect solution to quickly finding the right hashtags for your content. It’s great for finding hard data on hashtag popularity by their numbers, industries, and regions. But choose wisely as not every trending hashtag will be relevant or suitable for your brand and authenticity is important to TikTok users. A study by Neilson revealed that users find TikTok content more authentic and unique than other platforms and that users felt like they could be themselves. They expect the same from the brands they follow. 

  1. Be consistent

If you want to see success on TikTok, you must keep showing up. Maintaining a consistent presence increases your visibility and gives your audience a reason to follow you. Aim to post regularly, at least a few times a week, or try posting daily and assess how much of an impact this has on your follower count and engagement.

  1. Check your timings

For best results, share videos when your followers (and potential followers) are already scrolling in-app. If you’ve got a business account, you can go to the Business Suite and click Follower Activity to see the days and times your followers are the most active.

That’s how you do it organically. Of course, paid ads, also have their place and can be very useful when you’re starting out. You can even pay for followers but use with caution. 100,000 followers who don’t care about your brand (and if they’re paid followers, some are bound to be bots or inactive accounts) and rarely engage with your content are worth a lot less than 1,000 followers who support your business and love your content.

At the end of the day, we think there’s something extremely satisfying about growing an audience organically and quality is so much more valuable than quantity.

Charlotte is Content Marketing Editor at Thrive and is passionate about the increasingly vital role social media plays in marketing strategies.

Download our free white paper on the link below to learn how Millennials and Gen Zs talk about menstrual health and brands are getting it wrong

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