How to Build a TikTok Account
Updated: 1 day ago
Hello! I'm @bonblossman on TikTok. I haven't 'made it' yet on the app, but I've only been actively trying to grow my account for a year. Unfortunately, I made many critical mistakes that slowed my growth, so it's taking me so long to push the account toward my goal. Sigh. It's a process, and I'm still learning. However, I've experienced and studied enough over the last year to help new TikTokers, so I bring you eight suggestions on how to build a TikTok account and grow it to your potential while avoiding the pitfalls and hurdles I've endured. This is me:
STEPS FOR HOW TO BUILD A TIKTOK ACCOUNT:
#1 Settle on a target audience before you make your first post.
Since TikTok will judge your first five or so videos and establish what kind of account you will be - it's best to start with a purpose. Are you going to make jokes about drinking alcohol, or do you do cute clay animations with voiceovers? Don't do both - they are separate audiences, and TikTok will not promote you if you're all over the place. They'll be as confused as you. I learned this the hard way with slow growth until I established myself as a comedy account that caters largely to Generation Alpha. I didn't take it seriously the first year, and TikTok's algorithm knew I wasn't serious, so I did things the difficult way - as usual.
#2 Hashtag or skip Hashtags?
Hashtags are debatable. I say yes to hashtags for two reasons. First - you're letting TikTok know who you are, which is helpful if they can't figure it out from your video. I say 'they' - meaning the feared algorithm, which is very sophisticated and unforgiving. So be consistent with your brand (see #1 above). If you will have parents as an audience, use #parenting or #family with at least most of your videos to establish your brand.
My second reason for using hashtags is that is your video gets ranked on the hashtag that's used.
Here are the three ways TikTokers can view your videos:
1. Following feed - you'll have a random bunch of videos from those you follow. When you first follow someone, you'll have an assortment of old/new videos that dump into this feed. I can't use this for the reasons discussed below (insert pouty face).
2. FYP feed - this is the 'For You Page,' which is TikTok's hand-picked videos to show to everyone they think wants to see your video.
3. Searchable hashtag feed. Some people are very specific about the content they want to view, so they'll do hashtag searches. If one of your hashtag'd videos did well, it might rank high on that search page and will be discovered by those searching the hashtag - which is a good way to build the right audience for you.
Just think, if you get lucky with a viral video that is tagged with #parenting, you'll be one of the first videos shown when users search that hashtag. So, it might not cause your video to go viral, but it will give you continual views - especially if you get attention the first time around.
Also, you need to switch up your hashtag strategy on each video by changing the strategy each time, using a combo of broad and niche tags, and then mix in no hashtag videos about every 4 posts. I think the no hashtag does a kind of reset, as many of my viral videos have none. I might be imagining this, but it feels that way. I will eventually analyze the data on this. But I've casually noticed that most of my more viral videos have no hashtags but some have a lot - so I don't think that determines virality.
Below is one of my more popular videos with 1.9 M views and 185 K likes. As you can see - I did not use hashtags. Note: this has a watched full video of 43%.
#3. Post your top trending vids regularly at the correct times.
TikTok gives you analytics to view for each of your videos. Go to your profile, open the settings and privacy tab in the top right corner, under account - select creator tools tab. From there, choose analytics. So, the things I take note of are my trending videos. Since I have multiple storylines of comedy skits, I like to track which are trending, so I will create more and drop those that aren't performing. Again, I refer to #1 - find your audience and keep them happy. I didn't get a PhD to dress up in a virus costume on TikTok, but you follow the yellow brick road, right?
Second, you can view the most popular time that your followers are on TikTok. I've targeted this time and realize that I stay on FYP longer, as when your friends are on - they'll engage more on your video, and the TikTok algorithm senses that as you have a popular video. But as of now, my analytics for follower activity disappeared and says 'not enough data yet' so I'm unsure of what's going on there - I'm in the dark on what time is best at the moment.
So you know your top trending videos and the optimal time to post (well, maybe you do) - so do just that. And do it daily. Don't vary too much from the number of videos you post and the time(s). I'd say to post 2-3 times per day, hovering around your optimal time, but space it out enough so as not to put all your eggs in one basket (Easter cliché here).
#4. Genuinely engage with others & make friends.
TikTok is more fun with friends, trust me. I'll post my favorite accounts to follow and befriend at the end of this blog - at this time, they haven't done anything scandalous to my knowledge. But if you follow them - you better support them correctly, watch their videos to the end, like/share, and leave a comment that makes sense to the video. But find genuine friends that have similar interests, and most importantly, post videos you want to watch. Like a rube, when I opened my account, I followed everyone back that followed me. I ended up following 7K accounts before I realized that it was a dreadful idea that my following feed was jammed up with 'watch my videos, or I unfollow you' or very angry 'why are my videos not going viral' content. Therefore, do NOT follow for follow - not everyone is a good follower/friend. You'll be penalized for following too many accounts too fast. You'll be punished via shadowban for unfollowing anyone, so you're stuck with this dead weight if you follow a bunch of thirsty accounts just wanting you for a number on their follower count that will, in turn, most likely unfollow you in the long run. Oh, I have so many of these :(
Now that you've made the right friends engage with them daily. Support them as you'd want to be supported. Do NOT leave a string of laugh or heart emojis on every comment, or even worse, copy/paste the exact words or emojis without even removing the @: (yeah, if you try to copy/paste a comment on TikTok, it tells on you). Leaving only a string of the same emoji as a comment is a neon sign that you might not be watching the videos - so some could likely pay you back by doing the same to you, which murders your video's analytics and kills the momentum. I believe in karma and will play videos to the end - sometimes even multiple times. But - I will silently stop supporting you if I can tell over time you're just blasting emoji comments on my videos or making bland comments that don't relate to the video at all.
Just type something in response to their videos that show you watched it and care - they work just as hard as you do, so either support them or leave them alone. I used to do the 4-5 laugh emoji comments all the time when I thought that's how it was done - until I got made fun of by Generation's Alpha and Z. (LOL.) And, I realized that it makes it cold, impersonal, and makes you look like you didn't even watch the video when that's all you ever leave on videos.
Nevertheless, you can still get a 4-5 emoji comment from me on occasion as I still get from some of my fav people - we're all busy and it happens - as long as we know we've watched each other's video to the end, if we can't think of something to say, or don't have time - that's better than nothing. But I guarantee I won't kill your 'watched full video' percentage. If I like you as a TikTok friend, I want your account to do well, so you don't leave!
When I stopped engaging with several accounts that were leaving only 4-5 emoji comments on all my videos, my 'watched full video' percent went drastically up, and my account's growth % increased. And I say this the day after I get a 6% watched the full video on this one below. And, on this one, I put a message at the end to make a specific comment so I'd know who watched until the end - so I must have been pushed to the wrong FYP feed. The algorithm was updated on April 17th, 2022. That's when all of my views went down drastically - and I initially thought it was a shadowban, but then many others were complaining about it, so it's a thing. But when the FYP feed and your friends aren't helping your numbers on the watched % - you don't stand a chance against the algorithm and will get buried like this one.
So, if you're stuck with terrible 'friends' who pop on your video, paste the emojis, and then bounce - they are doing far more harm than good for your account, so get rid of them. Their one comment isn't worth the damage they do to you. Plus, they are likely to be making the content as I described above that you don't want to be watching in return. But don't instantly ditch someone for an emoji comment - but if it becomes a thing on every one of your videos - ditch them by dropping engagement on their videos.
5. Make quality videos, be creative.
Many accounts have grown by only participating in trends, doing voiceovers of existing sounds, etc. I don't know how to develop an account that way, so I'm writing this blog from my experience. I am an author by occupation, so it's easy for me to write in abundance. I am also an actress, so I act the parts of my skits myself - funny or not - it's what I do. I'm not saying that I'm a good author OR actress, but it's just who I am, so I made a pact when I decided to grow my account in ~ May of 2021 (or so) that I would only post original content. Unfortunately, TikTok didn't appreciate it as I had believed it would, and I refer back to #1 - I hadn't found the right audience. The wrong audience will not - I repeat - will not grow your account. I'm still trying to grow the correct audience while ditching the wrong one. I always do things the hard way, I swear.
The quality of your videos is one of the things the algorithm looks for, so if you are filming with bad lighting or your audio is very poor - you won't grow your account, so invest in a halo light and speak up, and speak clearly. Don't film in the wind or with a lot of background noise, such as in a busy cafe. Make use of the golden hours of the day during sunrise and before sunset. You don't need expensive lighting for that - it's perfect.
6. Participate in challenges & trends.
I'm going to be blatantly honest here - when I do trends, they flop, so it's not for me. That's probably because it's not what TikTok thinks my comedy skit account should be doing. However, if you are a voiceover/lipsync or dancing account - this is probably critical to your growth and easy views/likes/shares for you - especially if you get one of the top spots on the hashtag. It's a must to use the hashtag with the challenge, by the way.
7. Avoid violations at all costs.
Shadowbans - what are they? A shadowban is an informal, sneaky way that TikTok penalizes you without admitting that you are punished. Suddenly, your account growth will drop to nothing, or you'll even start to lose followers, your videos will drop to ~90% engagement, and you won't show up on the following/ FYP feeds nearly as much.
The guidelines had supposedly updated and became super strict on March 7th, 2022, when my latest shadowban commenced. I went from gaining 2K followers per day with an average view count of 47K on the 20 videos posted before the ban down to an average of 13K of the following 20 videos posted after the comment violation. Therefore, shadowbans are legit, authentic, and most likely 14 days (stay tuned for my next article where I break down the stats of shadowbans). I'm still under a shadowban until March 21st if the 14 day period is accurate. Update: the shadowban lasted about 11 days. Since this article, I got another one, it was erroneous, but that doesn't matter - and it was another 11 days. Sigh.
Before you post or comment, think What Would Mr. Rodgers Do? Albeit, you'll find many comments and videos that violate their guidelines, but don't be a tattletale - remember: snitches get stiches. But I also live by karma so I don't report anyone for nonsense.
Violations that will get you shadowbanned, suspended, or terminated are as follows, but not limited to:
1. Minor safety, such as dangerous acts (doing a headstand in heels, etc.), suicide content, disordered eating. This is highly subjective.
2. Faking emergencies
3. Copyright/trademark violations
4. Impersonations - if you happen to have two accounts (which I don't suggest you do), if you post content that mirrors the other account - you could get this violation.
5. Military history
6. Terroristic threats
7. Bullying (this is so subjective) - maybe don't say the word 'ew' in a comment.
8. Disordered eating
9. Illegal activities (pretty subjective and easy to get banned for innocent content) and violent extremism
10. Hateful behavior (so subjective)
11. Adult nudity and sexual activities. Oh, this is laughable, as I can view my FYP and watch some shocking stuff.
12. Dangerous acts - petting your pet snake, milk crate challenge, anything that would encourage others to mimic you.
8. Other non-violation TikTok don'ts that will get you shadowbanned:
Do not unfollow accounts. It's not worth it. There's no reason to do this. As I said above, unfollowing too many can lead to an account ban.
Do not delete a comment. This will kill your video's momentum. If I make a typo comment, I post a new one under it to explain what I meant.
Do not delete a video. This is a definite account killer. It's best to mark it as private and leave it alone if you mistakenly post something from drafts, etc.
Don't make too many comments at once - spread out your support throughout the day. If TikTok thinks you are a spammer, your account is doomed.
Don't like comments at a fast pace. So if you start clicking like on every comment on one of your videos without pausing in between to post a response to them or just waiting a few seconds - you'll look like a spammer.
Don't spam-like other accounts. If you find an account you like, don't like 20 of their videos in under a minute - they'll know you didn't watch the videos to the end and they are likely to block you. Being blocked by too many people will get you shadowbanned. If you spam-like someones videos, it does harm them by lowering the 'watched full video' percentage, which will remove them from their FYP momentum. It's okay to like a bunch of their videos - just watch them all until the end.
Follow these accounts - my friends on TikTok:
These people will not only engage with you, but they are genuinely fun and nice people to 'social media know' and interact with. I'm unsure if all will watch the videos until the end, as I've tested with an end message and many have failed - but maybe they just didn't want to leave the comment I requested? lol And to be fair - many haven't commented yet on the test videos.
**@originalrevster - you've never met someone as funny, relatable & magical as Rev. Verified video watcher until the end.
**@granddaddysoul518- Greg is hilarious and sells his own merchandise. Love this account! Verified video watcher until the end.
**@lisaprince12 - positive videos, trends, and a very cute dog. Verified video watcher until the end.
**@brauerc lip sync duets and fun singing. Very positive account and great videos. Verified video watcher until the end.
**@.vOnnyy does lip sync acting scenes and is phenomenal at it - she should be casted somewhere. And she does watch until the end.
**@freesetime Krista follows trends, posts cute animal content, sells merchandise, and is super supportive. She does watch until the end.
.@livingdeadgirl_01 - great person inside and out. Funny videos. @alishabeginsagain - fellow slytherin, Swiftie (if you like that, lol), cute and funny videos. @johncole01- talented photographer - I can't say enough how nice he is. @edawg5150 - very nice guy, posts funny scenes from movies. @kitsunelotusjewel -- great person inside and out. Funny videos. @maria.c.1971 - one of the nicest people on TikTok. She's beautiful and posts lipsync/dance @roberteo70 - all around awesome guy. He posts videos with great vibes and FX @mladell - cleaning, organization, and comedy content - she's super nice. @luckydad7 - my two favorite fur babies on TikTok. Oh, and Cole's nice too, lol. @paula_p73 - funny girl, post funny and relatable lip-sync/dance
@keithschofield2 - great guy from the UK (I think) - love his content! @christinelindsay_beauty - gorgeous inside and out, gives beauty and makeup tips @charmed_in_nh David is awesome and posts an eclectic assortment of content, love him.
@shelley2451 Positive vibe dancing videos - love it! She's very sweet.
@lucyboo58 One of my fav accounts, love her style, humor. Love her!
@jessie1_ She doesn't post much, but when she does it's great. @justmylittlespace excellent account to follow, very friendly, dog content, which I love :). @winston.and.crew more animals! Love this bunch!
@koreankimmie funny videos, Schitt's Creek scenes, amazing person. @ally_and_sam Great account, I just started following them :)
@brandy.bah She's hilarious - posts funny stuff. @thereal_marnie Marnie posts hilarious parenting content and is super nice. @fortyacres relatable comedy and is super nice. She lives on forty acres, literally. @heatheranncan another animal account with Banksie the dog - she's super friendly. @mommascrazyfamily1 a super friendly account that posts unique family games. @gosia2104 married couple from Europe (not sure where), but they post cute comedy @let_there_be_light_now beautiful, talented veteran who dances, does photography, etc. @marilynroguedesigns a jewelry designer who posts lip-syncs. She is super nice
UPDATE - SEPTEMBER, 2023
Whereas this is all good information above, I felt the need to update you on why I have abandoned the platform. I was up to about 196K - I'm now at 186K after leaving the account alone. I read someone else's blog on how your account is reviewed when it approaches 200K followers. This might be a rumor, but it did happen to me, so I am forced to believe some truth exists. Supposedly, they decide whether they- live humans or AI algorithms - want you to continue to grow on their platform. I suppose since I had comedy videos about a virus, they might not have liked it, even though my videos were going viral continuously. It's all I can guess that happened. Well, overnight, I went from a 157K average of views to barely hitting 1K views. I wouldn't care, but I also went from making ~ 1100 per month to nearly nothing. That's what matters. My growth ceased, and then, they began to remove almost exactly 30 followers per day. Some of these were my friends who mentioned that they didn't unfollow me, so they had to refollow me when they realized I wasn't showing up on their feeds anymore. I went from ~ 1-3 K daily growth to minus 30 overnight. This was April of 2022. I held on since I had a book release coming up in August and the whole point of growing the account for the year and a half was to find my audience who might also like my books. Since they shadowbanned me and stole my growth, my book trailer took over a year to reach 1K views. Mind you - on my account that had an average of 157K per video with highs hitting ~ 2 million and the low never going under 10K. So, I'm done with them. I've tested it again recently to see if I was still banned and yep, they are done with me. I've looked at my friends' accounts who have reached over 200K and they, sadly, aren't getting much more views than me nowadays and have barely grown in followers since I left in August of 2022. That's probably why I'm seeing them on other platforms now.
Therefore, I advise highly against wasting time on the TT platform, but if you're just doing it for fun and not to actually earn money from it or use it to promote your business, go for it.