How I gained 10,000 followers on TikTok in less than six weeks


 Spoiler alert: I didn’t dance. 

With over 800 million users, it’s no surprise that people everywhere are jumping on the popular video app. TikTok is a video app where users can create 15-60 second videos and attach sounds and text to each video. It’s “For You Page” is where you can endlessly scroll and be shown videos that the algorithm thinks you’ll be interested in. 

So, what’s the secret to gaining followers? 

In my own experience, the method to gaining followers on TikTok involves choosing a niche audience, using hashtags, and engaging with videos. 

Choose your audience and make content that resonates with them

In order to gain followers, you’ll first want to decide who you want those followers to be. When I first opened my account, my videos had no rhyme or reason to them. When you post videos that don’t have a theme or an audience in mind, the algorithm will have a harder time figuring out the appropriate people to spit your videos out to. 

I’m a lesbian, so I decided I wanted my audience to be the LGBTQ+ community. I made my account during quarantine, and I knew I wanted to find a community of people that I didn’t have in “real life.” With this in mind, I started making videos that I knew would resonate with the LGBTQ+ community (specifically, women-loving-women or “WLW"). 

For example, one of my first videos to gain traction was a tattoo my fiancée (then girlfriend) got for me. I quickly realized that the WLW community loved content that resonated with their experiences, so I try to make the majority of my content with that in mind. 

Maybe your niche is your pets, or home decor, or crafting, or comedy, or maybe it’s dances - whatever it is, try to keep your videos relevant to that and use the appropriate hashtags. 

Use the right hashtags

If you Google “how to gain followers of TikTok” a lot of pages will recommend using trending hashtags. Personally, I’d advise against it if it’s not actually relevant to the video because it could just confuse the algorithm and start spitting your videos out to the wrong people. 

For example, if I uploaded a video and used a trending hashtag that had nothing to do with my video, it might reach people that aren’t gay-friendly. I’d rather not have that audience engaging with my videos because, A.) they definitely won’t follow me and B.) it could encourage the algorithm to push my videos out to more people like that. 

Once the TikTok algorithm figures out your audience, it does an excellent job at getting your videos to the right people. With this in mind, I never once strayed from using my audience-focused hashtags (#LGBTQ, #gaygirls, #lesbiansoftiktok, etc.). 

Engage with other videos

In my opinion, engaging with other videos on TikTok is just good practice. Not only are you helping support your fellow creators, but it also gives you more exposure. 

TikTok users FREQUENTLY go to the comments on videos to see what people are saying about it. I’ve commented on a video before (someone else’s video that blew up), and the comment has gotten 500 likes. The more likes, the higher it pushes this comment to the top which gives you even more exposure.

Most importantly, when you engage with content, you create relationships. I’ve made friends through this app and consider them my community. 

Other things to note

Try to jump on trends early 

The longer you wait to hop on a trend, the more saturated that trend is. Sometimes I’ll scroll right past a video if I’ve already seen the trend a hundred times. If you’ve found a trend you love but it’s already overdone, try to add something different to it and make sure you let your audience know in the caption by saying something like, “A twist on this trend!” This will encourage people to stay. 

Make sure your videos are high quality

Super fuzzy or dark videos just don’t do as well as higher quality videos with good lighting. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy an expensive camera or professional lighting - I use my iPhone camera but I make sure I’m filming in a bright area of my house. 

You’ll also want to make sure you’re avoiding using excessive filters. An account with videos that all use the “rain” effect (for example) and multiple filters don’t do as well and aren't as “aesthetically pleasing.” Go to any TikTok account that has a ton of followers, and you’ll notice that the majority of their videos are clear and don’t use excessive filters. 

Post frequently 

It’s simple: when I don’t post for days, the rate at which I’m gaining followers slows down dramatically. I try to make sure I’m posting 2-3 times every day. This is especially important in the beginning when you don’t have any videos trending. When I started out and my videos were getting less than 100 views, I couldn’t rely on them being spit out to people for days (or even weeks/months) at a time like some of my videos do now. 

As far as the right times to post - this is always changing as the algorithm changes and as the current pandemic changes. When I opened my account in May of 2020, most of the country was in quarantine and had more time to scroll on their phones. Now (November 2020), more people are back at work and are on TikTok at totally different times. 

To add to this, TikTok “spits” out your video at totally different times from video to video. For me, sometimes it’s 30 minutes after I post, and sometimes it’s 5 hours after I post. So, my only advice on this is to avoid posting super late at night or in the middle of the night. I like to post mine from 10:00AM - 8:00PM EST.

Just have fun with it

At the end of the day, if your only goal is to gain as many followers as possible, you won’t enjoy the app and might end up being frustrated when videos flop. As I said before, I’ve made real friends through the app and it’s given me a real community of like-minded people who I can engage with while quarantining. I also have debilitating social anxiety, so communicating through social media is a very safe and comfortable option for me. 

Hope this helps. Have fun!

- Sammy (@sammymermell on TikTok) 

November 17, 2020 — Sammy Weller