How to Be an Influencer on TikTok and Start Your Own Brand

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It has become undeniable that TikTok now dominates social media, and rightfully so.

Consider these industry facts:

The number of people using the platform has soared to more than 1.5 billion as of the start of the new year. Out of that number, 1 billion are active users.

TikTok has also increased its share of users, and industry data show that more than 30 percent of the world’s internet population uses the platform. In terms of download, estimates say 3 billion people have downloaded the app and 1 billion videos are being watched every day on the platform.

These numbers naturally attract companies wanting to take advantage of the huge audience on TikTok, and it is projected that advertisers will reach 885 million TikTok users belonging to the 18 and above age group.

Of course, companies and/or advertisers cannot do it by themselves. This is not to say that advertisements or ads do not work on their own, but for social media platforms, including TikTok, it definitely pays to get that extra push—or extra leverage—to get a popular TikTok user to help the marketing and advertising efforts of companies. Influencer marketing is now an important business strategy not just for online companies but traditional brick-and-mortar businesses as well.

The go-to strategy of companies in this age of social media is to partner with so-called “influencers.” To simplify, one can consider “influencers” as product endorsers. Let’s have a more detailed discussion on what an influencer is.

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Enter the TikTok influencer

Simply put, a TikTok influencer is TikTok user who is being paid to promote a brand or a company. The basic rule is that for you to become a TikTok influencer, you need to be more than 18 years old and have more than 10,000 followers, plus 100,000 views in the last month.

Once you reach these milestones, you can then apply to the TikTok Creator Fund which pays influencers depending on the views on their TikTok videos. Basically, the TikTok Creator Fund pays you outright depending on the views that your videos generate.

But this is just for starters. As a TikTok influencer, you can also work with brands for sponsored videos. To simplify, you can include the product in your videos, or better yet, create a video featuring the brand or company’s products and services.

As a potential TikTok influencer, one of your main goals is to go viral.

Before reaching your target numbers (100,000 followers and 100,000 views in the last 30 months), it would help if you can produce TikTok videos that can go viral. How do you go about this? Going viral means your content—primarily videos—is being shared and reshared many times over a short period of time. Many experts will agree that a base number of about 100,000 views can now be considered “viral.”

To go viral, you can take advantage of TikTok’s algorithm which automatically shares recently uploaded videos. Be aware though, that the algorithm limits your video previews to only 3 seconds to a pre-determined audience. Thus, your video should be interesting enough for the audience to click it and see the video in its entirety.

Also, TikTok’s algorithm wants to find out if your video content (at least the first 3 seconds of it) is interesting enough so that it can show it to more users.

A good TikTok influencer also means you have a grasp on how to captivate an audience and how to keep them hooked on your videos. Go back to the basics and use a good intro, set a pace, and make sure you have an interesting conclusion at the end.

A tool for TikTok influencers is a specific call to action: One of which is to constantly remind your audience to comment or react to your videos. TikTok keeps tab on these interactions, and they will play a big role in your videos to reach an even wider audience.

Build your TikTok influencer brand

Now that you know some of the “guidelines” on how to be an influencer, the next logical step is building your brand as a TikTok influencer. Let’s look at some of these basic tips and concepts.

For many of us, the thought of starting and becoming an influencer (be it on TikTok, FB, or any other social media platform) maybe daunting. This is indeed true, and for many, it took years to build enough of an “influence” and enough followers to be considered a bonafide social media influencer.

However, there are a few basic guidelines that will hopefully help you achieve your TikTok goals. Let’s list them down here:

Familiarize yourself with how TikTok clicks. One of the basic ways content is shared through social media platforms is the algorithm. Simply put, the algorithm is a piece of programming software that can somewhat predict what a social media user wants depending on interests, demographics, groups, etc. Basically, using this information, social media platforms can present or preselect the kind of content a specific set of users is inclined to like.

While other social media platforms will rely heavily on interests, locations, the other social media users you follow, etc., TikTok is somewhat different. TikTok’s algorithm uses what is called an “interest graph” which shows how audiences react or interact with TikTok videos.

In essence, TikTok serves content depending on a few basic guidelines such as how long an audience watches your videos and if there are certain “actions” from users such as likes and reactions.

Remember that TikTok will not discriminate if your audience or follower count is a bit lower than others. If your videos catch enough attention, then TikTok will “serve” it to even more TikTok users.

Also, don’t forget to use hashtags to promote your videos and your brand extensively.

Be consistent. After catching the attention of your audience, creating and uploading TikTok videos now becomes your primary goal.

One good thing about TikTok is that the format is short. Thus, you can post as much as you like. Better yet, follow a posting schedule and stick to it. Some will even go for a certain number of videos a day. Remember that the more videos you create, the better chance that these videos will reach even more users. Your goal is that your videos will go far beyond your main audience.

And once you gain a substantial number of followers, you now have a great insight into what videos to create. So keep those videos coming and keep them fresh and exciting.

Know your audience. By now, it has been established that members of “Gen Z” make up the bulk of TikTok users. Sure, almost all age groups can be found on TikTok, but it is undeniable that members of the younger set are the ones spending significant time on TikTok.

Remember the TikTok user base we mentioned? Out of that 1 billion monthly active users, a majority (about 60 percent) belong to Gen Z. If your goal is be a TikTok influencer, then knowing what the Gen Z crowd will like can become the holy grail for you. However, the rule is not set in stone. Knowing what the Gen Z likes is an altogether new challenge for a prospective TikTok influencer.

Here’s a quick tip: TikTok has a For You Page or FYP. Take advantage of what you see on your FYP and try to create similar videos that will have the chance to become popular and appear on other users’ FYPs. Try to review what is trendy and be ready to jump in on trends.

Speaking of trends, be mindful that TikTok trends can constantly change or evolve. What is tricky is that these trends can also be unpredictable. Thus, it is perhaps a good strategy to jump in on the trend right away instead of sitting it out. 

Fortunately, TikTok has a “Discovery” tab that will allow you to have a glimpse of trends and trending hashtags that you can in turn use for your TikTok videos. The good thing about trends is that they can be found in almost all niches.  

Know you niche. Now that you’ve identified your target audience, this is perhaps the best time to know a certain area or niche that you can jump on. While some will say that specific niches might be limiting, it would certainly help your brand if you can stick to a specific area. Sticking to a specific area can also be helpful, as you now have a firm grasp of the kinds of videos you want to upload and focus on.

First, let’s take a look at what the popular TikTok niches are.

Many will say that dancing will always be in the Top 3 niches on TikTok, followed by lipsynching, fashion, comedy/opinion, cooking, and arts and crafts. among others.

TikTok challenges are also very popular but are somewhat controversial. Some challenges can pose a real danger to participants, and just to be on the safe side, perhaps you can focus on other niches while you’re still building your brand. Admittedly though, some TikTok challenges can fast-track your TikTok page to reach that target number of subscribers.

There are a lot of niches and do try to jump on these niches, and it would be helpful if you have a genuine interest in certain niches. If you like cooking, then it would help if you stick to this niche. Try to be creative, because there will be thousands of TikTok users also “playing” in this niche. This is where your creativity—and unique approach—come in. Your videos should be able to capture the interest of the audience.

Cooking, despite being a specific niche, is still very broad. How about focusing on Japanese-style cooking for instance? How about combining cooking with a few tips? How about combining Japanese cooking with trivia or bits or nuggets of interesting factoids about Japan? How about combining travel and cooking?

Fashion is also another TikTok niche that is constantly being used by many TikTok influencers and brands. Similar to cooking, fashion is still very broad. As a TikTok influencer, you can choose which area to focus on. How about fashion depending on the season? How about fashion for teenagers? Developing your brand around these subcategories can be worth it. Perhaps you can even develop your brand as a TikTok influencer who is very knowledgeable of fashion trends.

Your own take on these niches will most likely dictate your brand’s success. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Again, the short-form nature of TikTok allows you to constantly create until you find your groove.

Conclusion

It will take a lot of patience and a good bit of time before you can reach the point where companies will be lining up to have you as one of their TikTok influencers. With millions of videos uploaded every day, it might even be very daunting.

For many, being a TikTok influencer means building your brand. And that brand is you—be it your personality, your demeanor, your wit, your character, your knowledge, etc.

Speaking of character, be wary that there are certain etiquette or “norms” even on very open social media platforms such as TikTok. Be careful with the videos you post and just be sure that you follow community guidelines.

Try to experiment and go for viral content. This is easier said than done, but going viral on TikTok is relatively easy compared to other social media platforms. However, bear in mind that one viral video will not cut it. You still have to work hard to create videos on a consistent and ideally, regular basis.

Last, do remember that anyone can be a TikTok influencer, and with a good mix of creativity, a nose for the latest trends, a feel for your audience, and consistency in content creation, you are on your way to becoming a successful TikTok influencer with a trusted, and consistent brand.

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