From 0-400,000 TikTok Followers in 40 Days
To say I wasn’t expecting this to happen is a gross understatement. Whenever I hear people talk about building six-figure followings in short periods of time, I immediately assume they’ve paid for the followers (or been featured by Oprah). After all, it seems impossible to build an organic following that large that quickly these days, right?
And yet, after just three days on TikTok, I garnered a million views on my content. Within a week, I had 40,000 followers. And over those first 40 days, my following grew to over 400,000.
As a content creator who has spent almost a decade writing, editing, and distributing videos, blogs, and articles across multiple platforms, it was easy to write off this phenomenon as luck.
But after reviewing the stats and my approach, I realized there were a number of factors contributing to my growth on this platform, which I want to share with you now.
If you’re looking to grow a social media following quickly, here are seven strategies I recommend:
1. When joining a new platform, commit to being an active user.
One of the surprising things I learned after joining TikTok was that a majority of users only consume content; they don’t create it. With TikTok’s Creator Fund initiative, like many other platforms, they’re specifically looking for creators who will keep users engaged.
When I joined Instagram and Youtube, I was a non-committal user. I figured I’d fly in under the radar and see how things went, which left me DOA for building an organic following. Having coached and worked with numerous elite-level influencers, I now understand how platforms reward new users for posting frequent content. When I joined TikTok, I committed to posting a video a day for a week and immediately saw results.
2. Consider how the platform wants you to create and distribute content.
Oftentimes, whether due to burnout, overwhelm, or sheer laziness, people will post the same piece of content across platforms without modifications. It’s important to consider the types of content being pushed out by the platform and the features the platforms provide to you (i.e., filters, sounds, editing tools, etc.).
I found the more I utilized the features TikTok provided me, like adding in soundtracks, title cards, and faster cuts, the more it rewarded me. Similarly, I’ve seen videos in a square format (1:1 ratio) not perform well because they’re not platform-friendly.
3. Save the best for first.
Oftentimes, people want to ‘save’ their best content, waiting to post it until they’ve accumulated a certain number of followers because they want it to go viral. This is a mistake.
To give your profile the best shot, I advise you to lead with content you feel will perform well for you. Let your best content give you an initial boost.
4. Experiment. A lot.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a content creator over the years is that while it’s great to do content you love, you have to consider what your audience wants to watch. You’ll have a better understanding of what that is after you’ve posted twenty TikToks and can analyze their performance to see what types of content people are gravitating towards.
5. Engage with your audience.
When people comment on your videos, respond back! I was shocked to learn that most content creators do not engage with their viewers. Sending replies to commenters can make a long-tail difference in their loyalty to you and your content. However, this can become a big-time commitment the more comments you get. So be prepared!
6. Don’t allow a ‘flop’ video to discourage you from creating.
TikTok can be fickle (as can any platform); one video may perform really well, and the next may tank. I, too, have experienced disappointments when a video doesn’t perform the way I hoped. But, the beautiful thing about TikTok is that initial performance is not necessarily indicative of long-term success. Just by having a couple of videos perform well, the surrounding videos also received bumps. And the worst thing you could do for your following and yourself is to judge your content's quality (or ability to grow an audience) by the initial views.
7. Release attachment to the numbers.
This may feel hypocritical considering this entire article is about garnering a following, but I’m convinced that part of my success was because I was unattached to the outcome. When I joined, I was more interested in exploring TikTok and took a purely experimental approach. I had fun with the process. I didn’t join in search of a following or needing numbers to affirm my worth.
While I now have almost 700,000 followers on the platform, I still have other platforms with just a few thousand followers. This tells me that growing an organic following is about finding a platform where your audience lives, not about spreading yourself thin across all platforms.
As a brand strategist, I work with clients who have millions of followers on Instagram, but only a few thousand on TikTok. I work with clients who have hundreds of millions of views on YouTube but don’t have a Facebook following. You don’t need to have it all to succeed in a digital content world.
If you can figure out where your audience lives, make a run at connecting with them on that particular platform.