Not too long ago we started noticing that the most successful TikTok videos seem to have a pattern. Almost like a formula. To begin with, there is always a soundtrack like Old Town Road. Or EyesLipsFace, which has made e.l.f cosmetics one of the most well-known brands amongst millennials and Gen Z.
But what else? What could we learn as marketers?
Using an influencer analytics tool and some good old spreadsheets, we analyzed a selection of the world’s elite or Top influencers on TikTok (N=20) and what makes them special. These influencers have anywhere from 14M to 105M followers and we looked at factors that generally drive engagement, but more specifically views, comments, shares.
Let’s dive into the findings.
#1 The most followed influencers are not the most engaged.
Averaging at 16.52% ER, the top 5 most followed creators are much less engaging than our top 5 most engaging creators which average 24.68% ER.
This is probably due to a larger audience diversity of the biggest influencers – they just attract a myriad of people. And probably a good amount of new followers come from other sources than TikTok (eg Charli being featured in news outlets) without knowing what she is really about.
On top of that, a lower post frequency (4-6/week) might also contribute to better engagements as content would have more time to wear in and gain more engagements before audiences move to the next video.
4 out of the top 5 most engaging TikTok accounts are held by groups of 2 or more people – either families, siblings/twins, or couples. This might give audiences a sense of belonging within the creator’s social circle.
#2 Stunts gain views and comments.
Top 3 Most Viewed Videos
THANK YOU FOR 25M💙 WE BACK BABYY🤪 @itsjonathanle♬ Dream Girl – Ir Sais
periodt!!! but like also stop @larrayeeee @bradypotter♬ GOOBA – 6ix9ine
Top 3 Most Commented Posts
Most viewed videos are generally eye-catching and often public stunts, cool edits, and popular dances. However, the most commented posts generally include a specific call-to-action message like @laurengodwin’s video caption “So tell us… who won?”.
This isn’t necessarily new, brands have attempted flash mobs (please don’t!) and used polls to gain engagements. The key is to ensure campaign objectives align with the creative.
If you want to drive traffic to your site, make sure the CTA is red, bold and clear. On the other hand, if you have a brand objective, then design for an element of surprise from your audience to maximise views. And of course, with both objectives it is key to match the organic TikTok look-and-feel with your creatives. Duets can work incredibly well when the music and filters are well chosen.
#3 Dances are the most viewed content type. But Vlogs and Comedy are most engaging.
In some way, TikTok content trends are throwbacks to popular old school YouTube formats. Comedy around genuine life moments but shorter and elevated with filters, music and voice-overs.
Comedy and Vlogs’ natural storytelling element encourages a more open-ended way of engaging compared to Dance videos. The Stokes Twins’ video definitely made fans LOL when it showed the twins mocking a politician’s speech about wearing masks which is both funny and topical.
#4 Dance videos are also the most shared content type.
Dance videos with a high % of shares are likely due to fans sharing with friends to learn the moves. Besides Dance videos, we’ve also seen examples of highly shared vlogs such as the one by @jasoncoffee which explicitly asked fans to share the video.
In the context of TikTok, there are still many factors such as soundtracks, hashtags challenges, types of dances and so on which we didn’t cover in this article. Regardless, we hope this gives you a high-level idea of successful content some of the world’s Top TikTokers publish.
- Most followed does not automatically mean most engaged. IF you have a brand objective, focus on getting views through a strong emotional reaction (eg. surprise).
- If you have a direct response objective, then message/CTA clarity and relevant brand cues trump all else. Lastly, make sure the content delivers entertainment value.
- Post 4-6 times a week for creative to wear-in, not more.
- 4 out of 5 most engaging TikTok accounts are held by groups of 2 or more. Worth to consider when choosing your next influencers or talent to work with.
- Mimic the organic TikTok look and feel for best engagement. The best ads don’t look like ads.
- Dances get most views and shares, because people are trying to learn and replicate the moves.
- Vlogs and comedy are more open-ended, and actually the most engaging format type. Best suited for slightly longer storytelling.
- Definition of Engagement Rate, ER (%), last 30 days:
- Engagement Rate = (total likes + comments + shares)/total number of views*100
- This article was based on 20 TikTok influencers
Top 5 TikTok Creators by followers
Top 5 TikTok Creators by ER%. You can find the full list here