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Accidentally Viral

I went accidentally viral on TikTok the other day. A long time lurker on the platform; I’ve never considered it for business use, but after posting my first video (on a personal account) and seeing it blow up with over 500 views an hour for a steady four days, (now at over 47,000 views and climbing) I’ve learned some important things that I believe could help those of you wanting to develop your presence on the platform.

A post it note lies on a wooden table. There are pebbles and a plant in the top left corner. The word VIRAL is stamped on the post it note and there is a magnifying glass over the workd.

1: TikTok users like certain types of posts.

  • Useful/informative

  • Funny/sarcastic

  • Emotive/inspirational

The post I put up is definitely in the latter category; a spoken word poem to video of my son’s birth injury journey. After I started getting so many views I did a little research and as I thought, the above three categories are the ones that get most views. If you’re considering using TikTok for your business, ask yourself – have you got a business that fits into one of these categories, or can you create posts related to your business that fits one? Could you tell a story, offer a “how to” video series, or be humorous about your area of business?

2: Like on all social media, engagement is really important.

As the likes, comments and questions flooded in, I’ve been sure to respond, answer questions, and give thanks. They key to social media is in the word social – don’t merely post and run, but return to your posts across all platforms and engage with your audience. People want to feel special – and they are special. Whether engaging with you on a personal level or a business level, this is a two-way relationship and you need to appreciate your audience. It’s definitely worth taking the time to do this on all your platforms.

A chalkboard with the words Social Media written on it. Arrows coming from Social Media point to other words which say content, goodwill, success, relationship, and customer. There are a few sketchy images around the text such as a lightbulb, a cloud, a graph, and some stick people.

3: Be authentic and honest

The worst mistake you can make in business and life is to try to be something or someone you’re not. Never try to emulate anybody else; there’s only one you, there’s only one business like yours, be proud of that uniqueness and express it. There’s no definitive social media guide that will help your business to succeed; no off-the-peg one size fits all instruction manual, beyond the most important point – BE AUTHENTIC.

As soon as you try to copy another person or business, as soon as you find yourself trying to do better than a perceived rival, you’ll start to fail. Your focus ought to be on what YOU can bring to the world in your capacity as your SELF. There are no competitors. There are only other people and other businesses and organisations who are right for the people that find them, and the people that find you are right for what YOU are offering. If a business deal or a client goes elsewhere, be assured that it's to leave space for the right person or people to find you and you to find them. This may sound a little woowoo but trust me it works. I’ve got the perfect number of clients for me, in the perfect areas for me, and this has come from saying no to others to allow space to say yes to the right ones.

In my business, I have chosen to focus on certain niche areas – psychological, caring, educational, holistic, therapeutic, ecological, sociological, and creative businesses. That’s because I know that these are the fields I’m genuinely passionate about making a difference in, and I know that this passion will ensure that I give the very best to my clients. It leaves space for me to say no; to turn down business that isn’t quite right and to let those people go on to find the right person to help them better than I can.

4: Understand your platform and how it works.

TikTok, like all other social media platforms, has certain ways that it works, and it’s important to learn these to get the best out of the platform. For example, TikTok is more likely to show videos that include a trending sound or song. Hashtags and keywords are important and should be included in captions.

Whereas on Facebook and Instagram, likes and follows are king, on TikTok you can have zero followers (as I did) and still have a video go viral – it’s all down to the number of people who view the video, and this only counts if the video is viewed from start to finish. There are options to display videos from 15 seconds right up to 3 minutes. (Although 10-minute videos are in Beta testing). Mine was almost 3 minutes long, so not a short video at all, but the emotive content meant that people started watching and carried on watching to the end.

Make sure your video is accessible. As with ALL online content whether it’s your website or your social media, accessibility helps your content be seen more widely – as well as just being common decency for a wide audience of people who access content in different ways. I include captions on my videos so that people who can’t hear can still see what’s happening, and so that screen-readers can read them the content. If you need help figuring out how to make your online content more accessible, there is lots of information online or you can get in touch with me.

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