- TikTok can be unpredictable for content creators looking to build an audience on the app.
- Its algorithm and "For You" page are a black box, surfacing videos based on ever-changing trends.
- TikTok music lead Corey Sheridan said livestreams and engaging with comments can help drive growth.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
For creators looking to build an audience on TikTok, there's no uniform playbook.
Some influencers grab attention by posting a viral video that spreads on TikTok's "For You" content discovery page. Others post multiple videos throughout the day with the hope of eventually getting noticed.
But TikTok's recommendation algorithm is a black box, and planning out a single growth strategy is difficult.
Still, there are some basic strategies that creators can deploy to grab attention on the app. One area to focus on is livestreaming, according to Corey Sheridan, TikTok's head of music partnerships and content operations in the US.
"One of the biggest growth drivers for audience and followers on TikTok are livestreams," Sheridan said, speaking at an Insider panel on TikTok's impact on the music industry on Thursday. "Artists creating livestream events, creating a cadence of going live, is going to help them drive their followership in a very, very big way."
TikTok has regularly hosted live events for artists in 2021. The company said its most recent show featuring Ed Sheeran set a new viewership record, crossing 5.5 million viewers. But less-famous creators can also go live on TikTok if they're at least 16 years old and have over 1,000 followers.
Another effective strategy for building an audience on TikTok is engaging directly with users in the app's comments section, Sheridan said.
"If you're an artist that's creating content and people are commenting at you, comment back," Sheridan said. "It is one of the easiest ways to engage your followers and really make sure that you're showing that positive signal to the community."
The team at NPR's podcast Planet Money told Insider in November that they viewed TikTok's comment section as its own separate engagement platform.
"It's not just engagement to juice engagement," Alex Goldmark, the podcast's senior supervising producer, said at the time. "It's treating the comments as another platform, which they are."
Kristen Bender, the SVP of digital strategy and business development at Universal Music Group, said at the event Thursday that chatting with followers in the comments section isn't something that can be outsourced, either.
"It's going to be pretty obvious if there's an artist's account where the label is doing all the posting for them," Bender said. "This is definitely a platform where you can't get away with having an artist management team or a label posting on their behalf."