How to Get TikTok Followers for Free: 11 Proven Strategies
Do you want to know how to get a lot of TikTok followers?
We completely understand! Everyone and their grandmothers are on TikTok, which has 689 million global active users as of January 2021.
Having a large number of followers can mean having a direct line to your company's target audience—a connection that most marketing strategists only wish for—so making sure your audience can find you is critical.
So, how do you become "findable"? And, even better, "followable"? Spoiler alert: it's not that simple. If it were, we'd all be famous by now. Don't be duped by apps that allow you to buy bots and fake followers. This will only feed your ego while doing nothing to increase brand awareness.
The following techniques will show you how to get more TikTok followers in an honest way. Get a free TikTok Growth Checklist from Tiffy Chen, a famous TikTok creator, that shows you how to gain 1.6 million followers using only 3 studio lights and iMovie.
How to get more TikTok followers for free
Define your target audience
You can't be everything to everyone. Knowing your audience will help you determine how to capture their attention. Make your point. Narrow your focus. What do they enjoy? What are their pet peeves?
Knowing who your target audience is (and isn't) will help you land your content on their For You Page. The FYP, or For You Page, is the first page you see when you open TikTok. You want to be there!
Find out what your target audience is interested in.
Do you have no idea what they're into?
Simply ask them! Ask your followers on other social media platforms what kinds of content they'd like to see on TikTok. Instagram polls and questions can make this very engaging while also informing them that you have a TikTok channel they should follow (wink wink).
Check out the competition.
It's also a good idea to look into similar creators and brands in your field. After all, game recognizes game. It's like free research because you have a similar audience!
Research Gen Z
Keep in mind that TikTok is popular among Gen Zers. The vast majority of TikTok users in the United States are under the age of 30.
If your target audience is still on the Forbes 30 under 30 list, your chances of reaching them on TikTok are significantly improved. But don't worry, as more people (including those over 30) join the TikTok party, you shouldn't shy away if you have a slightly older audience.
Participate in challenges
Challenges are one of the most popular TikTok trends, and they can significantly increase your follower count.
If you're unfamiliar with the term "challenge," it's when you ask or dares users to do or try something. They can, however, be anything:
Technically, challenges can occur on any network, but they are most popular on TikTok. Here are some pointers to remember when taking part in a TikTok challenge to gain more followers:
Choose the right challenge
Some challenges take off like wildfire, while others fade away. The ease with which they can be recreated and how relatable they are contributing significantly to their success. The #youdontknow TikTok challenge excels at this (which is probably why the hashtag has 237.1M views!).
Remember: It is your personal spin on a challenge that distinguishes it.
Try a branded hashtag challenge
Any company can create a branded hashtag challenge that allows TikTok users to create content and advertise for them. This works particularly well if you approach already well-known creators and offer to pay them to create a video for your challenge. You'll gain access to their devoted followers and broaden your audience. Check out the reactions to Walmart's back-to-school hashtag challenge regarding first-day outfits!
Get on the For You Page
The For You Page is TikTok creators' equivalent of Instagrammers' Explore Page. Consider the popular kids' table in the school cafeteria. It's where you want to be if you want to be noticed!
What is the TikTok For You Page?
TikTok claims to recommend videos for your For You Page based on your interactions with other TikTok videos. You can read more about the algorithm here, but in a nutshell, it curates content for you and only you. That also means that no two For You Pages are the same. Isn't that cool?
When your company's content appears on a large number of For You pages, you can easily gain more followers, likes, and go viral.
Don't know how to get onto TikTok For You Pages? Don't worry, we have some suggestions to help you get on as many FYPs as possible on a consistent basis..
Create engaging content
Unlike Instagram or YouTube,TikTok accounts with little to no followers can still hope to go viral with the right content. In theory, the creamiest content should rise to the top. Make sure your content is high quality, trendy or relevant, and what your audience would totally be into!
Create lots of content
Remember your ABCs: Always Be Content-ing! The more content you have out there, the more chances you have to land on For You Pages!
Don’t delete your TikTok videos either. Sometimes a video that has been posted for a few weeks can suddenly hit the FYP page on a mass scale and go viral all on its own. Whether it’s timing, a force majeure, or just dumb luck, having lots of content in the algorithm increases your chances of getting on more For You Pages which could translate to free followers on TikTok.
Make quality footage
Another great way to get on the coveted For You Pages is by creating high-quality videos.
Use a ring light. Make sure framing is good. Get that audio crisp and clear. Edit your videos in an appealing way.
Viewers are more likely to interact and engage with your content if it’s high-quality. It’s also more likely to be featured on the For You page.
Hashtags help your TikTok content get seen by more than just people who already follow you. They’re easily created, searchable, and have even grown to become an effective marketing tool for organizations and brands as well as average TikTok creators. Not to mention hashtags help you with the TikTok For You Page algorithm. Using the right hashtag will help people who don’t already follow you find your content.
Here’s how to find the right hashtag to get your content seen and attract more followers.
See what hashtags are trending
There’s no magic hashtag that will land you on everyone’s FYP. Even using the hashtags: #Foryou #FYP #ForYouPage don’t guarantee you a spot.
Knowing what hashtags to use can still feel like a bit of a stab in the dark. Luckily, there are ways to see what hashtags are trending—via the in-app hashtag suggestion tool. You can find this when you’re creating captions for your videos. Hit the # and suggestions will pop up. Those are the ones to use (if they are relevant to your video, of course)!
Create a branded hashtag
A branded hashtag is a great way to get TikTok users to engage with your brand by sharing your unique hashtag. It should be a phrase or word that inspires people to get a brand involved in the conversations that they’re having on TikTok and take advantage of current trends. It can also be a branded hashtag challenge that encourages TikTok creators to create content for your brand and become unofficial brand ambassadors.
Fill your captions with relevant hashtags too!
It’s also important to include relevant hashtags to your post’s caption that suits your content and brand. That way your audience can find you and the algorithm knows what to do with you. Plus if you rank high on a hashtag people may search the hashtag and find your videos. Bypassing the algorithm all together!
Connect with your audience’s fave subcultures
Hashtags are also the reason a lot of niche communities and subcultures emerge on TikTok. TikTok is even calling them the new demographics which means finding your audience is all about aligning yourself with the right subculture. Is your audience really into #cottagecore or are they true #baddies? Know your hashtag = know your audience!
Post when your audience is online
Sure, what you post matters. But when you post it is just as important.
The best time to post content on social media? When your audience is online!
How can you figure this out? By switching to a TikTok Pro Account.
This free upgrade grants you access to TikTok Analytics including your profile’s metrics and data insights which will help you find the best time to post.
If you want even more detailed info, Hootsuite’s TikTok scheduler will even recommend the best times to post your content for maximum engagement (unique to your account).
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Use Analytics to find out when your audience is online.
Two things to consider when figuring out the best times to post: where your audience is watching from and the posting times of your best viewed content.
The Followers tab in your Analytics will track your follower growth, top territories, and followers’ activities. Keep in mind it only stores data for the last 28 days.
In the “Follower Activity” section of the Follower tab is a detailed look at what times and days your audience is most active. This is recorded in UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). So get ready to convert those active hours to reflect the time zones of wherever your audience is watching from.
The last part of the picture is the content performance. Under the Content section in TikTok Analytics you’ll see your posts’ performance over the last 7 days. Looking at your top posts and the times they were posted will help paint a clearer picture of the relationship between when you post your content and how well it does.
Getting a lot of eyes on fresh content right when you post it can help your videos get early traction and create momentum that could lead you getting more followers on TikTok.
Cross promote on other platforms
Most people use multiple apps at the same time. In fact, according to an article on social media use in 2021, looking at 18-to-29-year-olds in the US: 71% are on Instagram, 65% on Snapchat and TikTok accounts are roughly half. Putting your content on multiple platforms—Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—helps your overall visibility and will drive traffic to your TikTok profile.
Repurpose your videos for Instagram Reels
Instagram Reels are the new kids on the block and are kind of like Instagram’s own version of TikTok. Reels can be up to 60 seconds in length whereas TikTok videos can now be 3 minutes long—so be prepared to shorten your vids if necessary.
Also, try and avoid leaving the TikTok watermark on your Reel, as Instagram’s algorithm will not promote it.
Reels also have an Explore page so you have access to a whole new audience. If you’d like to set your Reels up for success with this powerful discovery tool, check out our guide to getting your content on the Instagram Explore page.
Use TikTok Ads
Another way to side step the algorithm and get in front of your audience is to set up TikTok ads. This option does depend on if you have a budget for it.
With TikTok Ads Manager, you gain access to a global TikTok audience with different ad management tools—targeting, ad creation, insight reports—to help you make the most of your ads.
Why TikTok ads? They’re still kind of new so there’s lots of room to get creative and be seen by the right people—without a lot of competition.
Here’s some stuff that’s cool about TikTok ads:
- You can target specific demographics and locations.
- The ‘Custom Audiences’ feature lets you find people who already know or have engaged with your business.
There are different ad options you can choose from (but keep in mind, they’re all expensive—$25,000-$50,000 per day—so if you don’t have an ad budget, skip to the next point):
- In-Feed ads
- TopView (making your ad the first thing they see when they open the app)
- Brand Takeover (like TopView, first seen when the app is opened but it’s a full-screen ad)
- Brand Hashtag Challenges (custom hashtag challenges placed on Discovery page)
- Branded Effect (your own custom augmented reality virtual filter)
Partner with other TikTok creators
Collaborating with a popular TikTok creator can amplify your message and ignite your campaign. You can use the Creator Marketplace to find a variety of creators, influencers, and TikTok personalities who might be a good fit for your brand and share a similar audience.
Turn your best videos into ads with TikTok’s new ‘Promote’ tool
Promote is newly available to help businesses reach more people and grow their community with their TikTok videos. Promote lets you turn any organic TikTok video into an ad so you can start reaching new audiences, build a following, and drive traffic to your business website. Its costs can also be high so you’ll have to decide if it is worth it for you.
Perks: You get insights so you know what resonated with your audience.
Keep in mind you can only promote videos that use original sound or sounds that can be used for commercial purposes.
10. Use trending songs and sounds
Why do so many people (myself included) know the words to “Into The Thick of It” by the Backyardigans? Because TikTok, that’s why.
If you look at the top charting songs right now, many of them are ones that are super popular on TikTok. This is no coincidence. TikTok is a big asset for the music industry and is wheeling and dealing with record labels to push certain songs in the app. Hitch your wagon to one of these songs and your video has a greater shot at getting played on FYPs. (And by that we mean, use a trending song in your video. It doesn’t have to be a dance!)
Here’s how to find trending music and sounds:
- Go into TikTok’s video editor
- Press the plus icon at the bottom of the screen
- Tap “sounds”
- Scroll through what’s trending!
Here’s how to find out what your followers are listening to:
To find the top sounds your audience has listened to in the past 7 days go to your Analytics tab (you need a TikTok Pro account for this!) and under the Followers tab, scroll down to see all the different music and audio your audience is grooving to.
11. Experiment with TikTok Duets and Stitching
Another cool feature of TikTok is Duets. They’re side-by-side videos, one of the original creator and the other of a TikTok user. They can be used to comment, compliment, respond or add to the original video and are a fun way to interact on the app. There’s also a green screen duet option that makes the original video the background.
Duets encourage people to share and interact with your brand’s content, increasing it’s chance of being seen by more and different users. It creates great brand engagement and opportunity for more followers who may not have seen your content otherwise.
This creator dueted her reaction to a popular video and scored over 2 million likes.
Stitch allows users the ability to clip and integrate scenes from another user’s video into their own. Like Duet, Stitch is a way to reinterpret and add to another user’s content, building on their stories, tutorials, recipes, math lessons, and more. It’s another engagement tool that can drive people to hit that plus sign.
Final thoughts on getting TikTok followers
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for getting more followers on TikTok. But there’s certainly lots of ways to get your views up and your content on the right For You Pages. Knowing your audience, taking advantage of trends, hashtags and challenges, using other social media networks and ads to promote your stuff, and timing your posts correctly are all great ways to boost your chances of gaining followers without downloading any sketchy apps or paying money for bots.
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