How to Get TikTok Famous:

Confessions of a Secret TikToker + What Brands Can Learn About TikTok Marketing

Disclaimer: I know you read that headline and asked one big question: Will TikTok even be around by September? In short: I have no idea. But in the meantime, you’ve still got 40ish days (or more, because who knows, Microsoft might save the day) to get famous. So before everything ends as we know it, read this article.

Some people learned French during quarantine. Some become champion bakers. One of my friends finished her novel (seriously jealous over that one).

I didn’t do any of that. Instead, I spent my non-working hours goofing off around the house with my best friends, going down the rabbit hole with a few of my nerdier tendencies, and ordering things off the internet I really didn’t need.

And that’s probably how my roommates and I figured out how to get TikTok famous. (Or as famous as 650K — and counting — views makes you). It all boiled down to this first step: We got really obsessed with Adam Driver’s performance as Kylo Ren in Star Wars, and it turns out, we had something to say about it.

Now for all you brands out there who are now CHECKED OUT because how could this have anything to do with anything: Hold tight. I’ve got the secret sauce, and here’s why it’s all important for TikTok marketing:

  1. Knowing what you care about is priority #1
  2. Understanding what kind of people out there like what you like is #2
  3. And priority #3 is going HAM on pursuing your idea, regardless of anything else

With those key factors in mind, TikTok marketing can be exactly what your digital marketing strategy needs. But even if it’s not, our TikTok success can teach you a little something about diving deeper into your creativity and coming up with winning brand content.

But first, a story.

How does one make the leap from regular Star Wars fan to over-the-top obsession with the franchises’ new baddie Kylo Ren? Mostly boredom, but having a cardboard cutout helped.


How to spice up your quarantine: 1) Buy a Kylo Ren cutout. 2) Wait for your Adam Driver-obsessed roommate to come home. ##adamdriver ##kyloren

♬ just did a good thing - lucaselvis

As I’m sure lots of people did during COVID house arrest quarantine, we watched a lot of Disney+, in particular, the new Star Wars trilogy. When we ran out of that, we turned to TikTok, where there is a huge amount of Star Wars content. And after we went through the good stuff on TikTok, we bought a cardboard cutout and started making our own.  

I’m not here to justify being a certified nerd — I’m here to say that no matter how crazy you think your interests are, there’s a good chance that more than one person out there is interested in it, too. Probably more than interested; probably willing to buy something.

For example, if my friends and I had decided to sell cardboard cutouts, we’d already have thousands of purchasers. Why? The #1 question people ask us on our videos is where they can buy a cardboard cut out like ours, which means there’s money to be made on TikTok if you care about cultivating the audience and giving them what they want.

Walmart already knows this — and that’s why they’ve partnered with Jason Derulo to promote their two-hour delivery model. It’s all over TikTok, and it’s attracting a new generation of shoppers to its offerings. TikTok is by no means Walmart’s only advertising avenue — I also get lots of ads on Shopify and YouTube from Wally World — but it's clearly one of their pushes. And that’s good news for your marketing.

Right now, millions of people are at home with nothing to do but WANT things to do. So whether you’re a big commerce seller like Walmart, a creator of Star Wars cutouts (call me!), or someone who’s hanging out on the couch with a desire to have fun and grow a following, now’s the time to try TikTok. And here are the keys to help your first experience with everyone’s favorite new social media platform win thousands of views.

1. Be a nerd about your work.

As John Green famously said, “Nerds are allowed to love stuff — like, jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair-can’t-control-yourself love.” And that’s exactly what a winning creative marketing campaign has to do (on TikTok or otherwise); it has to show that you are jump-around excited for whatever it is that you’ve got to sell (or say).

People are so attracted to passion, and it pays off. My roommates and I felt a little weird at first about showing the world that we essentially like to play dress up with a glorified paper doll (and I even felt a little weird about writing this blog in a professional setting talking about it). But the reality is, it was fun, and getting the opportunity to connect with people who like what we do was too much of a draw not to just go for it.

After all, we aren’t making money, we just like getting creative with this 6’ 3” cutout with Adam Driver’s face on it. It says a lot about who we are, but ultimately it says more that there are others out there who like watching our content. The world is weird, y’all. My advice is to get weird with it.  

2. TikTok isn’t just for 13 year olds anymore.

The demographics are changing, and it’s a good thing for your take-over-the-world TikTok marketing plan. Not only is the audience more diverse, older, and more global than you imagine, it’s also got the highest social media engagement rates per post. Here’s a breakdown of the most important statistics to keep in mind when company considers how to get TikTok famous (and whether it's worth it):

  1. TikTok is available in 155 countries and 39 different languages. Source
  2. It was the second most popular free app download in 2019. Source
  3. The app has 800 million active users. Source
  4. In February 2019, TikTok hit 1 billion downloads, beating Instagram and Facebook. Source
  5. Only half (50%) of the global audience of TikTok is under the age of 34, with 26% between the ages of 18 and 24. Source
  6. TikTok’s average user session is close to five minutes, longer than Snapchat or Instagram. Source

3. Being a little recognized with the right people is a great place to start.

I get it — when you saw my headline, you expected me to say we secretly had millions of followers on TikTok and trillions of views. We don’t, but here’s why that’s not important: Social media success, 99% of the time, doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it’s a result of a consistent amount of great content.

My roommates and I aren’t early adopters — TikTok was first launched in September 2016 — but we did have some luck providing consistent, relatable content that was trendy over the past several weeks. We post once or twice a week, constantly engage with our commenters, and most importantly, are keeping up with other things that are trending. And we’ve been rewarded with consistent growth, and a loyal fanbase.

4. When no one knows you, connect with something they do know.


We’re definitely having too much fun with this thing. ##adamdriver ##kyloren

♬ original sound - fishwad

Our most popular post is a short video with the Full House theme song — it got 200K views in the first 48 hours it was live. Why? I’ve got a couple of theories:

  • It was short, and that’s a big deal on TikTok. With a quick video, viewers might need to watch it 3+ times to understand what’s going on, and that exponentially adds to the view count.
  • The video didn’t require that anyone understand a lot of dialogue or context, which is important because TikTok users are all over the world and speak many different languages.
  • We riffed on something wildly popular and well-known. Kylo Ren/Adam Driver lovers are relatively niche to the popularity of Full House, one of the most well-known TV shows in the history of the world. So where we pigeon-hole ourselves with our other content (which is primarily based on Kylo Ren’s character in Star Wars and Adam Sackler from Girls), anyone who has ever seen the Olson twins say “You got it, dude” can relate to our parody.

5. More is better.

A lot of people out there have personal accounts, so take this note with a grain of salt, but having an extra brain (or two) around for content creation, filming, ideas, and more, has meant better-performing content for my roommates and me. There’s always an extra hand in filming, there’s someone to hold the cutout, someone to act, and someone to direct.

There’s also an extra opinion being thrown around to say, this is a great idea, but what if we pushed it and made it even better? When it comes to creativity, that’s one of the things that gets most overlooked, but having lots of good brains in the room, and having the space to hash out ideas until everyone feels excited, has led to some of our better ideas.  

6. There’s a little bit of practicality to it, too.

Consistent content wins. Well-timed posts win. Clips that have the appropriate hashtags win. Good editing wins. All of the things that always matter when it comes to good content still apply to TikTok. So don’t forget your best practices — they’re still important.

In summary: If you want to know how to get TikTok famous, or learn how to be a pro at TikTok marketing, the rules are clear:

  1. Be real, even if you feel like you’re weird. You aren’t.
  2. Be user-focused. If you aren’t, people will drop off.
  3. Be consistent, especially with your posting and engagement.  

There is a need for more content out there — TikTok’s popularity is proof of that — so get out there, post your weird-ass videos with purpose, and see if you can’t create a great community of like-minded people and start sharing ideas, products, and services. After all, three months ago, I didn’t even know what TikTok was, but today it’s connecting me to people who share my sense of humor all over the world. And that’s not only fun, but it’s powerful. And in the right hands, it can be an excellent platform for building your brand.

Need help figuring out how to make TikTok marketing work with your content strategy? Send me q’s on Twitter (@maggieharney) or drop me a line via this form. I’d be happy to brainstorm.

Maggie Harney is the content strategist at Marketwake, a digital marketing agency headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and a self-nominated Top Nerd of All Nerd Things. Read more from her, including her beef with the Game of Thrones Season 8 finale, on the Marketwake blog.  

Maggie Harney

Content Strategist

Disclaimer: I know you read that headline and asked one big question: Will TikTok even be around by September? In short: I have no idea. But in the meantime, you’ve still got 40ish days (or more, because who knows, Microsoft might save the day) to get famous. So before everything ends as we know it, read this article.

Disclaimer: I know you read that headline and asked one big question: Will TikTok even be around by September? In short: I have no idea. But in the meantime, you’ve still got 40ish days (or more, because who knows, Microsoft might save the day) to get famous. So before everything ends as we know it, read this article.

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