HOW THIS POST WENT VIRAL
This might be a super unsatisfying answer because it's one of those instances where I had no expectations, just did something for fun and it clicked!
I originally went on TT to post calligraphy videos to help promote worksheets that I sell. At the time I was making a lot of art in my sketchbook and decided to make a separate art account and posted sketchbook and process videos on a whim.
The post that went viral was a re-post of an IG reel that showed the process of my one-mark-a-day 100 Day Project. It's a minute long, I used a popular song for the background music, and I posted it without much thought.
I think it took a few days to gain traction but all of a sudden I was getting a ton of notifications and the number of views, likes, and comments kept going up! I had never experienced anything like this--the numbers were changing drastically, by the hundreds, minute by minute! I was like WHAT IS HAPPENING!? I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty awesome and it also felt really validating, like ALL the time I spent on social media and making posts was finally paying off!
The video currently has around 2.4 million views and I've had other videos go viral as well (but not as crazy as this one :))
DID I GET A MILLION SALES FROM IT?
I had NO expectations that anything would happen from my post so I actually didn't even have prints of this painting for sale at the time! I don't know what would've happened if I did, but what I ended up doing was getting more prints made, documenting that process, and sharing when the prints were available.
I didn't get a million sales and I wasn't up all night packing orders, but some sales did come in! The video also kept getting views for several months so even after the viralness died down, I still got some orders here and there.
Although it wasn't a huge game changer, do I feel that TikTok helped my business. It provided visibility and helped me connect with the right people--I've had some amazing customers who came from TikTok who are so supportive and have continued to support my work! And any time you get more eyes on your work means you are on more people's radars and they could be customers in the future.
When I originally released this print back in 2021 (before TT was even on my radar!), I was kinda disappointed with how it did so it felt really good to see it get a second life and have renewed interest from a whole new audience!
WHAT I LEARNED AFTER A YEAR ON TIKTOK
1) TIKTOK IS NOT THE SAME AS INSTAGRAM (FOR NOW?)
If you're like me and have been a long time Instagrammer who is trying out TikTok for the first time, it's a different world! What applies to IG doesn't apply here. Most of these things I find to be pretty awesome: your posts don't have to be pretty, you don't need a perfect first / introductory post (just start posting!), and I feel like the posts can be more random and less cohesive.
(I remember when I was first on TT, I wasn't even sure how to answer comments lol Like do you use emojis here? Should I use their first names? Don't worry, it's not that different, just talk like a regular person lol.)
The other major difference to me is that IG posts are for people who follow you while the majority of people who see your TT posts will be new people. I think this is why TT is a more viral platform than IG and you can gain more views and followers a little bit easier (I've been on IG for YEARS and still can't get to 10K lol 😅)
Nowadays, it seems like every social media platform is becoming the same: tik toks, reels, shorts, etc. etc. so I don't know if the above is slowly becoming untrue, but this how I felt when I first joined TT and still how I feel!
2) REUSE YOUR CONTENT!
Remove any watermarks from specific platforms (I use SnapTik for TT videos and I crop out the IG watermark) and reuse your content! I mentioned above that all the platforms are starting to become similar but that's actually kind of a plus because you can make one video and post it onto a bunch of different places! Sometimes I'll change the music or make slight adjustments but usually I'll use the same exact video. (I typically like to post on TT, first use the watermark remover, then use that video on IG and Pinterest.)
My viral video was a re-post of a reel--this is a chance to show your art and content to a completely new audience that has never seen anything from you before! Repost all your old videos that you think are still relevant and represent you.
3) YOU DON'T NEED TO HAVE A TON OF POSTS OR BE ON TT FOR A LONG TIME TO GO VIRAL BUT COMMIT TO POSTING AND TRYING DIFFERENT THINGS
I was on TT for about a week and the post that went viral was my 6th. I really feel like a lot of luck! At the same time, I was posting consistently (I decided I'd give it a real shot for a few months to see how I liked it) and trying different types of videos: flip throughs, sped up process, real time process, transitions, etc. and I think that helped. I was able to find something that worked sooner than if I had been posting only a few times a week and the same type of content.
4) TAKE ADVICE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT
5) LOOK AT YOUR OWN DATA
I don't do this anymore but I did find it helpful the first few months. The most important thing I got out of it was that videos that strung together a lot of different processes worked well for me and that my videos didn't have to be short.
6) YOU'RE NOT TOO OLD & YOU DON'T NEED TO SHOW YOUR FACE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO
7) GOING VIRAL IS PRETTY COOL BUT IT'S NOT THE END ALL BE ALL
Each situation is going to be different. I've seen artists go viral and completely sell out of their product! I've seen artists go viral and get no sales at all. I've seen artists go viral, get a ton of sales, then once the virality dies down, so do the sales which can be very discouraging. There's also a lot of unseen benefits that you might not reap until later down the road. Going viral is unpredictable and the results are also unpredictable!
At the end of the day, I think we need to create content that feels right for us and our community, keep going, and to not take it so seriously!
8) DON'T LET HATERS & COPYCATS GET TO YOU!
For the most part, comments are nice and feedback is constructive. I also find that the TT audience is very interactive which can be amazing if want to ask questions or get ideas/suggestions.
However, if you do have a post that gets a lot of views, you are for sure going to get some haters! Personally I don't read and I don't engage. If a comment is hateful or vulgar, I will delete those if I come across them. These aren't your people and we don't have time or energy to waste on their negativity! (And there must be something going on with them to take the time to spew hate at a complete stranger or they are just immature.) And the more time they spend commenting and watching your videos, it's actually helping your stats!
FYI, if you are an abstract artist, people seem to LOVE hating on abstract art but again, they don't get it, they aren't your audience.
The other downside of sharing our work in very public spaces are copycats. When I share ideas on any platform, I like encouraging other people to try it and I love it when people do and put their own spin on it! It's one thing to do that and give proper credit, and it's another thing to take an idea, give zero credit, use the same techniques and colors, then sell it 😑 If it's a blatant copy (I can overlay my work over theirs and it's an exact copy and there are dates to prove I created it before they did) I will ask them to stop selling but usually there's not much that can be done. I try to ignore and block them and stay focused on my own journey and the new ideas I will continue to have!
9) DON'T LET THE PRESSURE GET TO YOU / NUMBERS FLUCTUATE
Once you share content that is really well received or amass a larger audience, I think there can be this pressure to keep creating viral content or to only post things your audience wants to see or worry they might not like what you share next. For me, that feels backwards. As the artist we should be the ones deciding what we want to post not letting our audience decide. Social media is just part of how I share my business and I think there's a balance between generating the same type of videos over and over again because you know they will do well and growing as an artist and a person. I'm an artist first and a content creator second.
Don't worry if you have one video that has 100K views and then the next one only has a few thousand. This has happened to me and I've seen this happen on much larger accounts. There could be a million reasons why that particular post didn't do well. Don't get hung up on it, keep going!
Also, try not to delete if you can help it! There's been many instances where all of a sudden a post will come back to life and get a lot of traction even though it didn't do so well when it was first shared.
10) ENJOY THE MOMENT! :)
If you DO go viral, enjoy the moment!!! Share it with people who will be happy for you and celebrate this win!
HOW IT'S GOING & WILL I CONTINUE TO USE TIKTOK?
Throughout the year I've been pretty consistent with posting on TT and feel like I have a good idea of what works for me and what doesn't. Now that I've been on there a little bit longer, I'm more relaxed and don't feel as much of a need to post daily/almost daily as I did before. I post when I can and when I have something to share. This past month I've been pretty quiet because of the holidays and haven't had as much time or desire to post but I do want to pick things back up in the new year--I want to finish my 100 Day Collage and I'm excited to share more ideas and art as I dive back into my sketchbook practice.
Heading into 2023, I'll continue to use TikTok with this more laid back approach.
As with any of these platforms, you never know what can happen to the app or to your account so I want to try to find more ways to invite followers to subscribe to my newsletter.
I'm also excited to have fun with it and see what new and creative ways I can come up with to share my work in video format! If you'd like to join me, you can find me @atiliay :)