TikTok has fast-become one of the biggest online platforms for content creators looking to fast-track their online careers. Given its easy-to-use mechanic for sharing, creating, discovering via mobile devices, the platform has taken teenagers by storm and other age groups are slowly, but surely jumping on the bandwagon.
We spoke to two Aussies who have found phenomenal success on the platform - professional body builder Kwame Duah and fitness influencer Helene Philippou. Between them, Duah and Philippou have an online following of more than three million people globally. Here are their tips for building and maintaining a following on the platform.
TikTok is one of the world's most downloaded apps but millions of people would struggle to explain what it actually is. In similar fashion to musician Billie Eilish, who has millions of teen followers but far fewer outside of that age bracket, TikTok remains a bit of a mystery for anyone over the age of 18. Here are the main things you need to know.
TikTok is a content creation tool for mobile phones that enables users to express their creativity through short form video. It has given rise to multiple "Gen Z" trends, from dancing memes to grovelling voicemails from exes to users startling their pets with cat-face filters.
It's also not without controversy - particularly when it comes to political activism. But if the content you plan to create is entertainment focused, it's one of the best platforms for building followers quickly.
TikTokers Kwame Duah and Helene Philippou are a case in point. Both joined less than 12 months ago and now sport a combined audience numbering in the millions. Amongst a sea of known influencers, the pair use the platform to showcase their skills and educate their audiences – all in a comical manner.
Professional bodybuilder and 2017 Musclemania World Champion, Kwame Duah joined TikTok eight months ago and now has more than two million fans. His friend on the other hand, fitness influencer Helene Philippou, has amassed more than 800,000 fans in just five months. Helene comes from an influential family - sister to popular YouTubers RackaRacka - who encouraged her to start her own channel and begin shooting her own content.
Ever since, she has built up a strong base through Instagram too. However, both of her channels have increased in audience since she joined TikTok.
So how do you build a dedicated following on the newest digital platform? Kwame and Helene share their top five tips.
Evolving from YouTube to TikTok, Helene swears by her creativity. “Creative content is key. The most viral content Kwame and I have created has always been at its core, creative. Be it comedy, dance or lip syncing, make it your own.”
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Recovery/ sleep ???? - How many of you still sleep with your favourite toy ???? okay I’m just playing buttttt most of you know the importance of sleep and having rest days / recovery days or how important it is for your body! I’m not going to lie my sleep is not the best at times as I prioritise other things instead which isn’t such a great thing and it’s definitely something I’m working on How many of you sleep for more than 6 hours a day?????????
#2 Be authentic and differentiate
Kwame highlights the importance of differentiating your content from others. “We’re all unique individuals who simply need the right outlet to bring out our creativity and TikTok is perfect for that. The TikTok community are switched on, they can sense if you’re not being real in your videos, plus you never know if what you create will become the new trend. Don’t waste your time by copying other TikTokers, rather create your own. This is totally different to taking inspiration from a TikToker you love – use this and put your unique spin on it and you’ll see your followers soar.”
#3 Don't forget the hashtags
Social media 101: hashtags work on TikTok according to the pair. “Do your research and find the hashtags in the genre of the content you’re producing and use these religiously. Making it in the top for hash tags will increase your reach and bring more people to your channel. It’s the easiest win-win you can get on TikTok.”
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Proud to announce that @kwameduah and I will be the face of @tiktok_australia at the @ozcomiccon in Sydney!! We will be headlining on the TikTok stage at 1pm on Saturday 28th of September. Come and have fun with us, have a chat, participate in events. There will also be a #tiktokfighter competition where you can win lots of prizes!! Can’t wait to see you there ❤️
#4 Think critically
Helene’s approach to engaging content is done through a critical lens. “Like any sort of media you would read or watch, you’re only interested in it because it resonates with you. The same goes for your TikTok content – you have to understand your TikTok community and what they want to see from you and also understand the type of content that works on the platform. If you’re not delivering what your followers want, they’ll scroll right past you and go elsewhere to find what interests them.”
#5 Storytelling leads to engagement
The pair swear by the art of storytelling, “We find if we can engage our audiences through the content we’re posting, they are most likely to leave more comments, tag their mates or even share the post further which at the end of the day, helps boost our reach. TikTok is a storytelling platform, you’ll come across content and users that you invest in because they have an interesting story to tell so one thing we’ve learnt is, whether its 15 seconds or 1 minute, the goal is always to tell a story as it will go a long way and speak to your followers.”
To sum up, using TikTok in the right way can quickly strengthen your online presence. It’s the ideal vehicle to build your profile - which can lead to endorsements and other paid opportunities.
“I think the fact that the TikTok community is positive and supportive, and the platform is user friendly makes it one of the most powerful platforms now to build your profile," Philippou explains. "It is also quite global opening you up to a wide range of people, which is so helpful for those trying to build their online profile and basically, find new people to connect with.”
A whopping 12% of the population aged 13 to 38 consider themselves social influencers, according to marketing company Morning Consult. For those at the very top, it's an incredibly lucrative business where 8-year-olds have been known to make tens of millions of dollars in a single year. But what about those lower down the totem pole or just starting out?