For brand marketers, creators, and aspiring influencers choosing which social platforms deserve the most attention, TikTok should be somewhere near the top of the list.
Its rapid growth has astonished everybody — the channel only launched in the US in 2016, but it became the most downloaded app by 2018 and held on to that spot for most of the last five years. TikTok is predicted to hit 834.3 million monthly users worldwide in 2023, and close to 1 billion by 2025.
TikTok matters not just because of its skyrocketing user numbers, but because TikTok-ers are so engaged on the channel. You’re always looking to boost the visibility of your content, and TikTok delivers that opportunity in spades. In Q2 2022, TikTok users spent an average of 95 minutes per day in the app, the most of all social platforms.
Thanks to the algorithm that surfaces content on the For You feed, TikTok’s user experience is optimized to produce viral posts, which makes it easier to drive massive views and boost your following than on other platforms.
TikTok can thus play an important role in helping you expand your audience and earn a reliable income from your creator business.
Why build an engaged audience on TikTok
An engaged audience makes you more popular in-app, boosting your visibility and reach, and helping form a supportive community around your content. This sense of community produces more loyal followers who are more likely to promote your content to other people and on other channels, enhancing your overall influence and impact.
As your engaged audience grows, you’ll stimulate more opportunities to monetize your content, especially as brands come to realize the potential that TikTok offers. Despite its rapid growth and committed user base, TikTok is still relatively under-used by marketers in 2023, with an adoption rate of just 23%, compared with Facebook’s 94% and Instagram’s 84%.
TikTok has been dubbed “the new Google” for Gen Z, who are more likely to search for information on the social platform than through a search engine. Within a couple of years, eMarketer projects, TikTok will have almost as many social buyers as Instagram, and brands are following the trend.
7 steps to build an engaged audience on TikTok
Just like any social media channel, it takes time and effort to build an engaged audience on TikTok. Here are some tips for creators and influencers to forge a supportive and engaging following on TikTok.
1. Know your target audience
To be fair, understanding your target audience is vital for building an engaged audience on any social media platform, but that’s particularly true for TikTok. The platform is most popular among Gen Z and Millennials, with 69% of its users aged under 40, and these are the generations that prize authenticity and relevance.
If you don’t truly know your audience and what excites them, you won’t be able to create content that resonates with them, speaks their language, and addresses their specific challenges or desires. When you know their concerns and priorities, you can craft videos that are relatable and relevant, increasing the likelihood of capturing their attention and building a loyal following.
This is exactly what makes Spikeball so effective on TikTok, reaching 1.3 million followers and hundreds of thousands of views for many of its videos.
Spikeball describes itself as “if volleyball and foursquare had a baby,” and it capitalizes on producing content that speaks to its audience, like this TikTok which shows off the deft moves that Spikeballers love, combined with a perfectly timed soundtrack.
2. Create eye-grabbing TikTok videos
The thing about growing your following on a platform with billions of global users is that someone is always posting a video. TikTok delivers a virtually limitless scroll, so you’re competing for attention with countless videos. Visually captivating content is what entices users to stop scrolling and invest their time watching your videos.
Sometimes it only takes a well-chosen audio effect or expert highlighting to move a video from mediocre to extraordinary.
Eye-catching videos with their intriguing visual effects, vibrant colors or creative cuts immediately draw viewers in, piquing their curiosity and compelling them to watch till the end. Use tools like Lightricks Videoleap to combine stickers, templates, soundtracks, and all kinds of special effects to create awe-inspiring, scroll-stopping content.
By consistently delivering visually stimulating content, you not only stand out amidst the sea of videos but also leave a lasting impression on your audience, encouraging them to like, comment, share, and follow your account.
3. Keep up with current trends
Content that responds to recent trends is popular on every channel, but TikTok is particularly rewarding to profiles that create relevant content around top trends. It’s like a platform built around what’s hot and what’s not, so accounts rise and fall by jumping into viral challenges, popular hashtags, and the latest TikTok trends that captivate users' attention.
By staying informed and actively participating in these trends, creators can tap into the collective interest of the TikTok community, increasing their chances of discovery, exposure, and engagement.
Following trends allows you to showcase creativity, demonstrate relevance, and connect with your audience on a shared cultural and social level. It signals to viewers that you are in tune with their landscape, making them more likely to engage, follow, and share your content.
For example, Duolingo often pulls key storylines from UGC and viral trends. Look at its fabulous #DuaLipa series where the Duolingo owl professes love for the singer Dua Lipa. The entire very popular premise began because Duolingo noticed that followers often misspelled the app’s name as Dualingo, and began capitalizing on the phenomenon.
The climax came when the Duolingo owl appeared in “person,” outside Dua Lipa’s concert in Madison Square Garden to propose. UGC videos of the event conquered TikTok.
4. Collaborate with other TikTokers
Collaborating with other influential TikTok accounts is a powerful strategy for building an engaged audience and driving ROI. On a simple level, it can potentially double your exposure right from the start, because you gain access to each other’s followers, increasing your visibility and reach.
But collaborations can go deeper than that. Part of why duets are so popular on TikTok is because people get to see the energy that flows between both participants. The same is true for all collabs. They bring a sense of novelty and excitement to your videos, as viewers get to see the dynamic interaction between personalities.
Collaborations can come in many guises. There are artistic partnerships, when influencers work together to produce a video, and informal duets and challenges which can result in exciting and unexpected content.
In the case of HP’s #HPCoachellaDreamland Challenge, HP worked with a few influencers to kickstart the challenge, which was a big success, eventually driving over 183 million views. Social media star Kailey Lynn even decided to jump on board.
5. Interact with your TikTok followers
People might check out your video because of your awesome content, but they’ll follow your profile, share your videos with their friends, and support you in their communities because they feel like they have a relationship with you.
Responding to comments, acknowledging feedback, and engaging in conversations creates a sense of connection that makes them feel valued and heard. This not only strengthens your relationship with existing followers, but also encourages new followers to engage with your content. It’s a vital step towards building a loyal community.
Tools like Metricool make it easier to keep track of comments and responses, so you can make sure to engage with every follower.
Engaging with your followers also provides valuable insights into their preferences, interests, and needs, allowing you to tailor your content to better meet their expectations. This two-way interaction builds a positive feedback loop, where engaged followers are more likely to share, comment, and promote your content, further expanding your reach and attracting new followers.
6. Go Live on TikTok
Live video has a power all of its own. When you go live on TikTok, you can connect with your followers in real time.
Your audience can interact with you directly through comments, questions, and even collaborative activities like real time music duets. It’s a great way to foster a deeper sense of authenticity and intimacy.
The live format also instills a sense of urgency and exclusivity, as the content is happening in the moment and cannot be replayed later. This encourages your audience to actively participate, ask questions, and engage with other viewers, creating a vibrant and interactive community around your content.
7. Measure your TikTok content performance
Last but not least, it’s vital to measure how well your content performs on TikTok. To misquote Thomas Edison, success is 1% inspiration and 99% measurement and analysis. You need to see which content types and formats resonate the most with your audience, so you can double down on what works and tweak what doesn’t.
It’s a good idea to use a tool like quintly to track and crunch metrics like views, likes, shares, comments, and follower growth. Data can give you valuable insights into the styles and topics that generate the most engagement and interest, so you can refine your content strategy, create more targeted and compelling videos, and optimize your efforts for maximum impact.
When you track your content performance, you can make data-informed decisions, tailor your content to your audience's preferences, and ultimately foster a more engaged and loyal following on TikTok.
TikTok is the ideal channel for crafting a community
With its virality-friendly algorithm, committed user base, and hefty growth, TikTok is one of the best platforms for creators to build a supportive community. By taking a strategic approach to engagement-building and producing top content, you can grow your following on TikTok and turn it into lucrative sponsorship and collaboration opportunities with leading brands.
About the author
Val is a freelance SMM consultant who helps small businesses promote their products and services. She’s a big fan of Instagram marketing, so Val also writes for marketing blogs to share her tips on using this platform for business growth. In her free time, Val learns Spanish and travels around the globe to meet new people.