We asked the biggest TikTokers how to get TikTok famous
Read this every night before bed
I have a problem: I’ve thought about TikTok at least three times a day since I got the app five months ago. What started as an ironic download to laugh at what today’s 16-year-olds were doing for clout quickly became a sickening addiction and I know I’m not alone. I’ve got hundreds of videos saved and I quote most of them in conversation daily. I incessantly tell anyone who’ll listen to download it so I can share my obsession. Screentime tells me it’s overtaken literally every app I use, including Instagram. I watch it while I’m on the fucking toilet.
I’ve long since come to terms with the fact I now unironically enjoy TikTok. But constantly gathering mates around my phone in the kitchen to show them the treasure trove of post-Vine brilliance is no longer enough – I want to be a TikTok star myself.
To be TikTok famous isn’t something most people have really figured out yet. Sure, there’s a Team 10-esque house somewhere in LA where elite creators pump out videos every day, and the rat race for true influencer status is still a bit of a free-for-all. But honestly who cares? How do I, an actual adult, become big on TikTok?
To find out, I slid into the DMs of dozens of TikTokers with huge followings. Most obviously aired me, but some (including a dude with over six million followers) actually replied and told me everything you’ll ever need to achieve TikTok fame in a matter of months.
Here’s how you become TikTok famous:
You have to post videos every day, even if they don’t reach many people
“There is no such thing as posting too much on TikTok,” says Grant Beene, a TikToker with 1.3 million followers. “If you can post three TikToks a day you are gonna grow quicker than someone who posts once a day.”
Knowledge about TikTok’s algorithm is sketchy at best, but unlike Facebook, it doesn’t punish users for frequent uploads.
“You can’t oversaturate your content on TikTok because every time you post, TikTok is sending your video to different people,” says Grant. “It’s like owning property. The more properties you have the more income you have.”
Most of the TikTokers I spoke to mentioned the word “consistent” at some point. Alessandro is the CEO of The Influencer Marketing Factory, a company that matches TikTokers with brand deals. He says even if you have a 20 million viral hit you risk “disappearing into the sea of TikTokers” if you don’t follow it up with frequent posting.
Nick Uhas, whose niche is gigantic eye-grabbing science experiments, has over seven million followers. He reckons the rule isn’t black and white, but still says you should “post as often as you can.”
“Some people who do dances and comedy can post four or five times a week, where others who do more selective bigger-style videos post two or three, or even as low as two times a week,” he says.
Pay attention to trends and capitalise on them
Nick says whether you give a shit about trends “totally depends on your content,” but agrees you’ll have to “use the trends to your advantage” if you want to stand out.
“If you make videos about aeroplanes, you probably don’t need to do the new hot dance that’s trending,” he explains. “It certainly brings you into the TikTok community if you can adapt the trending concepts into your own style.”
Alessandro tells me the key is to get on the For You page, TikTok’s equivalent to Facebook’s newsfeed. The For You page basically puts your video in front of 30 million people, so “obviously” it can’t hurt your journey to TikTok stardom.
The way to do this is to hop on anything that’s trending. He says: “If you know what a song is working for others then it’s gonna work for you also.
“When you see 10 different videos with the same song while you’re scrolling down the For You page there’s a trend going on.”
Be unique and show people something they haven’t seen before
Of all the accounts I messaged, Friendly Quest is the weirdest. His account showcases the dancing skills of his ferret, Matilda, and it has a bonkers 8.7 million followers. Friendly quickly carved out a niche as a kind of Ferret Guru. He says: “I post tips about healthy snacks for ferrets.”
“I did a video about ‘toxic foods for ferrets’ and informed people that chocolate, vegetables, wheat, and dairy products are not good for them. Many liked this video, it got 700,000 likes,” he tells me.
George Walker is a student at Bournemouth University. A big fan of Vine in his childhood, he spent a lot of his fresher year making TikToks in his room while struggling to fit in with his housemates. He reckons TikTok is “oversaturated” with wannabe influencers, and says “you need to have something about you” to succeed.
George continues: “One thing that I started to do quite quickly was establish a personality. It’s the one thing people don’t tend to do – they tend to just make videos of them dancing or miming words, and that’s not something most people can connect with. It’s not something you can humanise.”
Nick says showing people “something they haven’t seen” is part of what’s made his growth so explosive, and even the trade-loving Alessandro encourages TikTokers to “be creative and weird.”
Use the tools the app gives you, especially if they’re recent additions
As you might expect, TikTok’s algorithm rewards users for playing with the newest toys on offer. Users can upload their own audio, but Nick says it’s important to take the hint that the app wants you to use what it’s giving you. Like Instagram, TikTok is always adding new filters and effects, so you’ll have to keep pace with them if you want to do rack up the followers.
“When you’re using effects people are seeing for the first time,” says Alessandro, “they’ll probably see more videos of you, then they’ll go on your profile.”
Another vital element is ensuring your video can be repurposed by other users, he continues. If other TikTokers can remix your video, duet with your it, or reuse your audio, “you’re gonna get tagged and people are gonna follow you.”
If you get a big viral hit you need to ride the wave
I asked everyone I spoke to how they got their big break, and for most, it came out of the blue. The key was to capitalise on it.
You’ll doubtless remember Jade Pinner, the Tesco girl who went viral for her rant about working a shift on a hangover. When I interviewed her back then, she said she’d had the video on her camera roll for months, and hadn’t really given much thought to whether it would make her TikTok royalty. She now uploads fairly consistently and has over 380,000 followers, as does George, who used his early success posting thirst-trap videos to pivot to comedy sketches.
Epitomising this approach is Woody Mabbott. Fresh from his GCSEs, he’s your archetypal British TikToker, and boasts 660,000 followers. He says: “I gained my first followers from just posting videos of me and my friends in school at lunchtime as a joke.
“The first video got 2.5million views so we carried it on and then when I left school I just filmed the videos on my own and it carried on blowing up.”
Grant’s growth has been more explosive. “I deleted TikTok the day before I blew up”, he remembers. “The next day I got hit with an idea I thought was too funny not to post so I downloaded the app again and posted my idea.
“Right after I posted I took a shower and when I got out my post had 300+ likes. In the next 48 hours, the post got 50,000 likes.
“Every video I posted after that I put tons of thought into and would spend as much time as it took to perfect the very line, angle, and concept. For the next five months, every video I posted did really well and that’s how I began to build my following.”
Make sure your videos are rewatchable and shareable
“Rewatchability is a bit part of the TikTok algorithm”, says Gianluca, the Angry Pasta Guy who went viral earlier this month and who now has 2.6 million followers. “Rewatchability and shares. Who’s gonna send this to their friends? That’s what gets the video flowin’ and gets it pushed out to your viewers. You want people to want to watch the video again.”
Grant prides himself on his ability to make viewers rewatch his TikToks – “it’s the only hack I know” – and he too is convinced the algorithm looks favourably on it.
Of course, you’ve got to get people to watch the TikTok in the first place. Alessandro suggests making sure videos have a “plot twist,” i.e. formatting your video so the laugh out loud moment comes right at the end, so users can’t help but stick around.
You have to take risks – don’t be afraid to get weird
You can’t deny watching a barrel of “elephant toothpaste” erupt into bright blue foam is excellent stuff. At 207 million views, it’s Nick’s biggest video. Between him and Matilda the ferret you have a fairly decent picture of the kind of weird shit TikTok users are into.
“You can’t be scared to be cringey,” says Sean, a Brighton student with 100,000 followers who he’s recently started funnelling towards an Onlyfans account that pays him £900 a month. “Cringey is good because that’s what sells. People wanna watch you do that video because they’re too scared to.”
That being said, you don’t have to push the boat out too far – Gianluca tells me relatability sells too.
“I wanted to be a personality people could get along with, not an influencer,” adds George. “It’s not about getting big, it’s about starting a community who supports your character, not just your content.”
Sean, who suffered a dip in views about halfway into his TikTok career, also admits “being semi relatable” is important, but not giving up and “keeping up the grind” is equally necessary.
What’s the lesson here? How could you become TikTok famous? Well, if you went into this article thinking you might zip to the summit of TikTok fame by dancing like a prick in your room I’m afraid you’ve got another thing coming. Like these guys, you have to really love what you do and push boundaries.
Basically what I’m saying is go and buy a ferret.