We don’t need to tell you that TikTok is far and away the buzziest, trendiest social media platform right now. However, when it first launched, it was easy to dismiss TikTok as just a flash-in-the-pan app used by Gen-Z, that would soon fade into obscurity.
Though its popularity was undoubtedly helped by COVID lockdowns and worldwide boredom (it reached two billion downloads in August 2020), there’s no denying that TikTok is here to stay. And if you’re not already on it, now is the time to jump on board.
Of course, with the rise of any social media platform comes a wave of brand-new influencers. Some of these TikTok stars, like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, have become household names for Gen Z –– but you don’t have to be mega-famous to be a TikTok influencer.
In fact, TikTok is probably the easiest social media platform to crack, thanks to its unique algorithm and no-holds-barred vibe.
Let’s jump right in.
What is a TikTok influencer?
TikTok influencers have built up their accounts to the point where brands and companies will pay them to promote their content. And honestly, anyone can be a TikTok influencer. The app’s unique algorithm means that it’s a lot easier for creators to get their content in front of new audiences and grow their follower base substantially over a short amount of time.
TikTok has made it way more attainable to become an influencer. Depending on a creator’s audience size, type of video, and engagement rates, brands can pay anywhere from $200 to $20,000 per branded video.
Also, TikTok – like YouTube – has a partnership program called the TikTok Creator Fund, where the app pays creators to make content. For this, you need at least 100,000 followers and at least 100,000 video views in the last 30 days.
How to become a TikTok influencer
Though the idea of starting from scratch and becoming an influencer on a whole new platform may seem daunting, it’s actually pretty straightforward to get around. Some things to know before you get started:
The TikTok algorithm is unique
Other social media platforms use a social graph to predict content that their users will want to view, recommending things based on who you follow, your interests, where you live, etc. But TikTok uses an interest graph, which measures users’ interests based on how they interact with videos.
The longer you watch a video, the more of that type of content they’ll serve you. Similarly, if you interact with a video (like, comment, or share), that will inform the content you get.
This is something to keep in mind when you’re creating content! Keep your videos fresh and exciting, so viewers watch to the end. Make them surprising (a little unpredictability goes a long way!) or relatable so that they share your content with friends.
You need to become familiar with your market
At this point, you’ve probably already spent some time in the app, learning the ins and outs of the platform. If not, it’s time to start scrolling and engaging with content. Again, the algorithm is superb! Within an hour of starting an account and interacting with content on your For You Page (main feed), you’ll be served the kind of content you want to see.
One pro tip: when you see a video on your FYP that you really like or is really suitable for your niche, share it with a friend (or even message it to yourself). This notifies the algorithm that you really like it, and you’ll be served more content in a similar vein.
By using the app as a consumer, becoming super familiar with the other creators in your market, and the kind of videos they’re creating, you can identify what works and what doesn't.
Find your niche
You already know all about the importance of finding your specific niche when creating content, regardless of the platform. But on TikTok, it’s even more essential to find your niche and stick to it; the more specific the better.
Say, for example, you want to be a fashion influencer on TikTok. In itself, this is too vague. So instead, find what makes you stand out. Maybe you recreate Pinterest outfits for mid-size bodies. Maybe you assemble outfits from chain stores, or source all your clothes second-hand.
Maybe you combine two niches, and make videos about what Harry Potter characters would wear if they lived in the 21st-century muggle world.
No matter how wildly specific your niche is, there’s definitely going to be an audience out there hungry for that content. And once you start putting it out there, the TikTok algorithm will do most of the work for you in finding those supporters.
The one thing TikTok creators say, across all demographics and audiences, is that in order to be successful, you need to keep to a consistent posting schedule. The more videos you upload, the better chance of your videos being seen by new audiences. Like you with your favourite creators, your followers want as much content from you as possible.
Unlike YouTube, where one 20-minute video each day might be too much, TikToks are short and digestible.
Jump on trends
As well as posting consistently, it’s also essential that you spend a good amount of time in the app, scrolling through content as a regular user would. Trends on TikTok are constantly changing and evolving; often, a trend that’s fresh one day will be dead by the end of the week. So jumping on trends is a great wait to boost your views and reach new audiences.
Fortunately, most trends on the app are inherently simple to adapt to any niche. Remember that the ultimate goal with a trend is to create funny or relatable content. You want people to share and engage with your videos to give them that extra boost in the algorithm.
Similarly, using trending songs in your videos will also help push them onto peoples’ FYP. You can check out the ‘Discover’ tab, found in the bottom menu bar, to see trending hashtags, effects, and songs in your region.
Think outside the box
On Instagram and other platforms, it can pay to play it safe. Audiences there are used to seeing a certain type of content, and it works.
But on TikTok, it’s a whole other ball game. The TikToks that are the most successful are surprising, disruptive, or straight-up wacky. In a way, many TikTok influencers feel more free to be themselves on the app, as it does not have the same aspirational aesthetic as Instagram.
In fact, many successful TikTokers started by using their accounts as a fun place to experiment and be themselves, separate from their main feeds where friends and family follow them.
Pay attention to the comment section
As we’ve said, the algorithm picks up on your audience’s engagement. The more people share, like, and comment on your videos, the better they’ll perform. Keep your audience engaged by creating a two-way conversation.
It’s interesting to note that users treat the comment section on TikToks in a completely different way to comments on other social platforms. For example, after watching a video, many users will go straight to the comment section to see what others say about it. Forbes even went as far as to say that comments are now the best part of TikTok.
A unique thing about TikTok is that creators can now reply to comments with a whole new video, rather than just text. This is a great way to keep the momentum on a viral video going without feeling strained or desperate.
Work with brands
Obviously, if you want to be a TikTok influencer, you’ve got to form some relationships with brands. But, as a consumer, you know that any brand partnerships need to be a natural fit for your account. Anything that seems like an obvious cash grab will flop with your audience.
If there’s a brand you’re already loyal to, that you’d love to work with, start mentioning them in your videos. If you’re making content that they love, which is resonating with your audience and making waves, chances are they’ll get in touch.
Another way is to work with an influencer platform that connects brands and creators. At TRIBE, we streamline the entire influencer marketing process, helping Creators and brands form partnerships that make sense (and of course, are mutually beneficial).
Learn more about TRIBE and download the app here.