How to grow your TikTok following, as highlighted by Alex Friedman and her 77K followers

December 9, 2022
Ashley R. Cummings
Share this article
Sponsored

TikTok is one of the most powerful tools to build a rapid audience online. Anyone who’s signed up has experienced the initial “boost” that comes with your first couple of posts. TikTok’s algorithm often sets you up for success, hoping to hook you to the platform.

But what happens next? You start to find out how competitive TikTok can be. After all, we’re talking about the first non-Facebook app to reach 3 billion global downloads. That’s great news if you’re looking to build an audience. But it’s also a high bar if you’re trying to stand out and build an audience.

Fortunately, Alex Friedman has some of the answers. As she put it on Twitter:

So, how did Friedman gain ~400 followers a day so quickly? It turns out it wasn’t any one tip, but an assembly line of tips she turned into a consistent TikTok strategy. Here’s what she did—along with an easy framework startups like yours can adopt to build your TikTok presence.

The first four months: use TikTok’s “virality” features

The good news is TikTok is rookie-friendly. You don’t have to have a giant social media audience to leverage. You don’t even need to buy followers. You only need to understand the platform and approach it consistently to get it started.

How viral-friendly is TikTok? One study poked and prodded at the algorithm to find out how often users could go viral on the platform. Researchers measured the likelihood that a TikTok “challenge” would resonate with particular users. They learned—maybe to no one’s surprise—that users would only engage with challenges that interested them.

But even more fascinating is that the researchers were able to predict who would participate in a challenge with astonishing accuracy. Their machine-learning algorithms eventually reached 49% accuracy. Not quite as good as a coin flip—but still far less random than you might imagine.

Alex Friedman believes exploiting TikTok’s viral-friendly features is integral to success. “I strongly believe TikTok throttles you as a creator,” said Friedman in her Twitter thread. “If it senses you have the potential to go viral, it will give you that early. But you have to take it or it will go away,” said Friedman.

@heyalexfriedman 2 of my favorite NoCode tools as a startup non-technical founder! @heyalexfriedman #startup #nocode ♬ original sound - Alex Friedman | Startup & Tech

What does she mean by that? “You need to take advantage of the growth in the beginning when you see your first burst of growth and traction,” said Friedman. 

“Creators can take advantage of this by setting a personal KPI such as posting 1-2x per day for 60 days and bulk creating your content so you have things you can post consistently without burning out. “

The data backs this up. The traditional thought goes like this. To encourage users to stick around on the platform, TikTok tends to give your first video added visibility.

But does it? 
Ben Thamite ran the numbers on tens of thousands of videos and found that second videos, in general, tend to score higher views and engagement:

Image Source

His conclusion? “There is no evidence to support the claim that TikTok does anything special with first videos,” said Thamite.

Alex Friedman’s advice lines up with this. Her idea that “you have to take it or it will go away” suggests you can’t rely on any short-term boost. Instead, you need a plan for staying consistent:

  • Don’t launch until you have a plan. If the data shows that second posts tend to outperform the first, it means that users will grow as they build a following. Don’t launch your own first video until you have a plan for a follow-up. When you do, you’ll be better positioned to post consistently.

  • Don’t forget about the early portions of your videos. Don’t depend on that first-post boost to do all your work for you. Instead, start thinking about the first few seconds of every video you post. For example, “opening a TikTok video with a powerful emotion such as surprise created a 1.7x lift over content that started with a neutral expression,” according to Hootsuite. That means you need to get consistent with creating your hooks.

Consistently create high-impact, no-intro videos. Do this from the get-go and you’ll likely notice yourself building an audience faster than you anticipated. 

Want an example? Here’s a Fabletics post that boasts no intro whatsoever—it just gets straight into the workout.

Don’t start with a bang by hoping for first-video viral success. Instead, start with a bang by opening each video you upload with high-impact hooks. Then start doing it consistently.

Pick your community and niche

Don’t try to be something for everybody. TikTok’s audience includes billions of users. There’s plenty of followers to go around.

In fact, you may find you’ll experience faster growth by picking a niche. Friedman recommends first picking a niche, then choosing the “pillars” of content you’ll create to serve this niche. 

Let’s take an example. If you choose a niche like fitness, your pillars can then be items like healthy recipes or workout suggestions. In short, your “pillars” become what you build your content around.

Why is it important to pick a niche? For starters, you’ll need an audience with whom you resonate. But let’s get even more technical than that. As we alluded to earlier, people were more likely to engage with content that appealed to their interests. By choosing a niche that appeals to the interests of a specific group, you’re more likely to resonate with TikTok users. This boosts your performance, which gets you more views.

TikTok’s algorithm isn’t ignorant of niches, either. 

“The more consistently you share videos related to your niche, the more the TikTok algorithm will recognize your expertise and begin to serve your content to the right audience,” according to Later.com.

Later recommends going above and beyond simply picking a niche. Here are some ways you can help TikTok understand the niche you’re aiming for:

  • Use niche-specific hashtags and post tags. TikTok’s algorithms are highly capable of discerning niches, but why make it difficult for them? Load your videos with keywords and hashtags. Audiences will find you more easily this way. But just as importantly, TikTok’s algorithm will know what to do with you.

  • Keep posting consistently. It’s not enough to post one video, load it with keywords, and call it a day. Don’t wonder why TikTok isn’t making you the new king or queen of your niche after a few videos. Once again, consistency is key. TikTok will look at your posting history to gauge how serious you are about contributing to the platform. 

The key in picking a niche is to avoid the temptation to be something for everyone. TikTok’s got just about every niche you can imagine. There’s going to be room for you. And even if your ambitions will eventually move beyond that starter niche, view your resonance with one niche as your stepping-stone to greater things.

Repurpose valuable content

If you’ve been creating content consistently for your niche, you’re going to notice something strange about your TikTok presence. It’s turbulent. One post may have 100,000 likes. The next one has 1,000. This may play out on smaller or grander scales, but the point remains the same—it’s never going to be linear.

At this point, you might feel lost. It may seem as though there’s nothing predictable about the resonance of the content you’re creating. But there’s good news: those posts that went more viral than the others are your guiding lanterns.

When you notice one post making it “big”—at least bigger than the others you create—you should repurpose that content in other ways.

As Friedman puts it, “Learn to say the same thing, three different ways.”

“People absorb information in different ways,” elaborated Friedman. “Some people absorb best by reading, some bet by listening, others best by seeing someone actually do the thing.”

Friedman highlighted one example: how to create a digital product, saying, “some people will be able to learn that best by…

  1. Seeing the step-by-step written out on a screen
  2. Hearing me talk about how to do it
  3. Watching me do it on my screen.”

This is known as content repurposing, and the central idea is simple. You’ll take a piece of information—tips, factoids, etc.—and turn them into multiple types of posts.

As Friedman says, one single piece of information can look very different in three different TikTok styles:

  • Talking
  • Text-on-screen
  • Walk-throughs

What you’re doing isn’t recycling content, but doubling down on the content that’s proven to work. 

Imagine that your niche is skincare. You’ve posted all sorts of content about skincare—tips for morning routines, getting rid of acne, etc. But one particular post about makeup removal went viral. You can’t explain why it did—it just did.

You now have a piece of information to work from. What about that post resonated with your audience? And how can you repurpose it in new, fresh ways to continue to provide value for your followers? Maybe you’ll give out the same information, but this time, rather than talking to the camera, you dial it down to simple text-on-screen tips.

Then you post it, watch the results, and see if this is a specific type of content that continues to build engagement. If not, try something else. But if it is, you can keep on building out content pillars around that topic.

Create a sales funnel by knowing your goals

If you follow Friedman’s steps, you’re going to create a successful TikTok account. But then you’re left with a higher-level question. What do you do with that account?

  • Do you want to hype coaching services?
  • Connect a business to your TikTok profile?
  • Do you want to advertise on TikTok once you figure out the formula? (If so, you can start using options like a TikTok pixel on your website to track your conversions from the platform)
  • Do you want to become a full-time creator?
  • Are you just working on general brand awareness?

Choose one, because these strategies will inform the way you approach TikTok.

In another Tweet, Friedman suggested thinking about what people are searching for. “TikTok is a search engine,” she said.

So treat it like one. Use the knowledge you can glean from that search engine and start researching what they’re typing.

If they’re typing “How do I…” or “where to…” then what does it say about their needs? Start filling in the blanks with your content in a way that positions your strategy as the solution to what they’re searching for.

TikTok’s continued growth is inevitable—get on board

The tips above will all help you, but there may be no two tips more important than these: simplicity and consistency.

Friedman keeps it simple, she says, usually only requiring about 15 minutes to produce a TikTok video. This makes the second habit possible—consistency. Like most other social media platforms, TikTok will reward those who consistently create content that serves their audience. 

Put your own TikTok profile in a position so that your content delivers. Eventually, you’ll find your audience—and maybe to a greater degree than you ever imagined for yourself.

This week
Want more insights?

Join thousands of brands who already subscribe to the BANKNOTES newsletter

Thank you! You've been added.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

related articles

June 20, 2024
Emmy Liederman
Creator Mya Pol on what real accessibility looks like
As Pol talks disability inclusion on TikTok, brands like Hilton are backing her work
June 6, 2024
Emmy Liederman
How can creators leverage content freedom?
After investing in educational content, TikTok’s “friendship expert” approaches brands with creative control
April 29, 2024
Emmy Liederman
“Creator-first” is an industry buzzword, but creators are still chasing down payments
Creators and advocates take to social platforms to share their frustrations