5 Tips to Get More TikTok Engagement on Your Videos

Learn how to increase engagement on TikTok with these five easy-to-implement tips, including running contests and using video thumbnails.

By Will Blunt ・6 min read
Best Practices
Social Media

With TikTok use on the up and up, especially with millennials, brands the world over are trying to understand how to make the most of it.But while TikTok has some similarities to other social networks, most obviously the Instagram Reels feature, it’s got numerous layers to understand that make it difficult to break into.TikTok is all about entertaining video content. The short, funny, shocking, upbeat, cute, or abstract videos you find on TikTok create an addictive user experience that keeps people on the platform for hours at a time. Scrolling, laughing, liking, and engaging with videos of all kinds.This high level of engagement makes marketing managers salivate who are used to battling it out on Instagram or Facebook for a few measly likes or dropping their whole budget on paid ads.So, then, how do you get more engagement on TikTok so your videos have an impact on your brand? Here are five easy-to-implement tips to put you on the right track.

1. TikTok Contests

Social media contests are the perfect accompaniment for the viral nature of TikTok videos. You’ve got the built-in excitement of participating and winning a contest, which attracts people anyway, with the addictive nature of short entertaining videos.Unlike TikTok challenges, which are “owned” by the public, TikTok contests are started and controlled by a brand. They offer a prize for the winning entry, have a start and end date, collect entries on a landing page, and require participants to create videos that are unique to the campaign.If you’re planning on running a TikTok contest, make sure it abides by best-practice contest rules. Read TikTok’s Community Guidelines, don’t infringe on copyright by accepting entries with music, logos, or other materials, include official contest rules on all promo material, and follow regulations for your local geography.Chipotle runs a yearly Halloween #Boorito contest with huge success. The top five entries get a year’s supply of burritos from its restaurants. Participants enter with a TikTok video showing a before and after Halloween dress-up and Chipotle’s campaign music.[caption id="attachment_48680" align="alignnone" width="600"]


Chipotle's #Boorito contest[/caption]Cosmetics brand, e.l.f., launched a TikTok contest by combining a unique hashtag, relevant prize ($250 of its products), and influencer collaborations to reach over 5 billion people:[caption id="attachment_48681" align="alignnone" width="600"]


e.l.f.'s TikTok contest[/caption]Auntie Anne’s also uses TikTok contests to increase engagement – like with this collaboration:[caption id="attachment_48678" align="alignnone" width="553"]


Auntie Anne's Pretzels' contest collaboration[/caption]As you can see, it works! TikTok contests are your best friend when it comes to increasing engagement.Want to get started? Use ShortStack’s TikTok Contest Template to create a landing page and collect leads and TikTok videos, it’s super easy to do:


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2. Video Thumbnails

Using video thumbnails on your TikTok videos helps categorize your content and makes it simpler for viewers to find the posts they may be interested in. These graphics also draw in a viewer’s eye and in many cases get them to click on a video they may not have.What are video thumbnails? When you upload a video to TikTok you can add a thumbnail (cover image) that viewers see prior to a video starting and when on your profile page. You’ll see how English soccer team Arsenal uses this concept below:[caption id="attachment_48687" align="alignnone" width="600"]


Video thumbnails on TikTok[/caption]Arsenal has a series of content styles, including the “Crossbar Challenge” and “Goal Recreated,” that they label using video thumbnail quotes. You can see how this would increase engagement if a viewer landed on their profile page. It guides where they click and keeps them interested in future videos of the same type.Don’t neglect your video thumbnail when uploading content, it helps viewers navigate your content and will keep them on your profile longer.

3. TikTok Trends

By monitoring TikTok’s Discover page and following other popular accounts, you can identify trending hashtags, challenges, and post styles that will improve your engagement levels.You can’t be complacent with TikTok - trends and tactics are always evolving. The next viral dance challenge, video effect, or trending catchphrase is a matter of moments away from catching fire.Here are some examples of TikTok trends that brands have capitalized on to connect with more people:

  • Effects - Such as the 3D Photo Effect. Turn a photo into a 3D image and create a mini video montage. Then post with the hashtag #3dphotoeffect. Like this video from the UFC:

[caption id="attachment_48686" align="alignnone" width="600"]


UFC using 3D Photo Effect[/caption]

  • Challenges - Like the Vogue Challenge. Edit photos of you, your team, or one of your products into a Vogue cover picture, and then use the tag #voguechallenge to get eyeballs on your content. It works for the Miami Heat:

[caption id="attachment_48688" align="alignnone" width="600"]


Vogue Challenge[/caption]

  • Phrases - Such as ‘I’ll Never Forget You’. Highlight someone (or something) that has had a big influence on your life - such as your first customer, founding owner, first product, or a mentor. Share your video with the hashtag #illneverforgetyou to reach more people searching for it. I like how the Smith Family Popcorn company uses this trend to bring back customers.

[caption id="attachment_48683" align="alignnone" width="591"]


Smith Family Popcorn using #illneverforgetyou[/caption]What trends will work for your brand? Check out the discover page and see what you can come up with.

4. Games

Interactive games are all the rage on social media at the moment - especially Instagram and TikTok.The concept is simple, games take more brain capacity to process than a standard post, so users view your content for longer. The more time someone spends thinking about your video, the more likely they are to remember your brand the next time they plan to make a purchase. Or compare products.Auntie Anne’s creates mini-games for TikTok to increase engagement with followers, such as this “Sweet vs Salty” poll:[caption id="attachment_48679" align="alignnone" width="470"]


Auntie Anne's Pretzels' 'Sweet vs. Salty' poll[/caption]Simple concepts like this work a treat (pun intended) because they are associated with people’s preferences and personalities.The WWE puts a twist on the concept of an interactive game by pitting two staff members against each other to guess the theme music of certain superstars. It really drops the guard of the brand and connects on a personal level with fans:[caption id="attachment_48689" align="alignnone" width="600"]


WWE's staff square-off[/caption]The key with games on social media is to make them extremely simple to get involved with. Auntie Anne’s A/B format is the perfect example of simplicity. When a simple game is linked to a core belief or strong opinion, it will garner tons of engagement.

5. How-to Videos

It might seem like a stretch to teach something in such a short video, but with a little creativity, you can make it happen. And how-to videos attract excellent engagement on TikTok. People love learning new things.Whether you’re teaching a dance, instructing your audience on a workout technique, or putting together a recipe video, how-to videos capture and hold a viewer’s attention. People may even watch the video multiple times to nail down the skill you’re teaching.Sweetgreen, for example, create how-to videos giving their audience an insight into their dressings and salad creation process. Here is an example of how they make the cilantro vinaigrette:[caption id="attachment_48684" align="alignnone" width="565"]


Sweetgreen's how-to video[/caption]Check out this how-to example from Planet Fitness that teaches its members how to work out all parts of their biceps:[caption id="attachment_48682" align="alignnone" width="600"]


Planet Fitness' how-to video[/caption]As with anything on TikTok, your how-to videos should be simple, easy to understand, and cover a fairly broad topic so that many people could be interested.


The biggest takeaway from this article is that TikTok has numerous layers and small complexities. While the concept is simple - sharing short videos - the variations are almost endless.To up your engagement with followers, it comes down to understanding what they are looking for on the platform. Try out some of the tricks in this blog, but also test and iterate other ideas to see what works. You’ll find a sweet spot that resonates with your audience and start to reap the rewards.Good luck!

About the author

By Will Blunt ・6 min read

Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.

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