TikTok’s rise into the mainstream has created a new generation of influencers dancing, singing, acting and meme-ing their way to stardom. While you might be already following blogTO on the social media platform, there are plenty of other local accounts that might be worth your attention.
Here are TikTokers from Toronto dominating the FYP (for you page), and what you can learn from them.
Samantha and Madeleine Caleon, 24, started posting clips of themselves lip-syncing on Musical.ly (now TikTok) in 2016. Four years later, the twins have 3.4 million followers on the app, and what started as a hobby has turned into a thriving business.
The sisters have found success sharing authentic and relatable content that shows people what it’s like to be a twin.
“I think our niche is reality entertainment. We feed off our brand of being twins,” Samantha said. “For example, we’ll do skits that revolve around the pros and cons of being twins, and different challenges where we dress the same.”
The Toronto-based content creators were born in the Philippines where the largest portion of their audience resides. They also have hundreds of thousands of fans in the United States and Canada.
Whereas their musical.y content appealed to a younger demographic (ages 6-10), the Caleon twins’ newer TikTok content is drawing older viewers.
"People are looking for influencers, and idols that they can see themselves in to inspire them further," Madeleine said. "So I feel like if you are able to relate with a certain group of people or a certain audience then it’ll really help you grow and create that sense of community of people that think like you."
There’s an entire industry behind studying and achieving influencer success on emerging platforms. Gabe Feldman is responsible for influencer marketing at Viral Nation, an agency that represents over 100 TikTokers. He says that authenticity is integral to success on TikTok.
"Audiences today are smart, and they can smell content that is inauthentic. On a place like TikTok, it’s all about being yourself," Feldman said.
With one hand on the steering wheel and another grasping a karaoke microphone, Danielle Voit's commentary blasts through her car speaker and onto the streets of Toronto.
Countless TikTok creators have joined her in the trend she started, called "Carpool Microphone Karaoke". No, this is not the recurring segment on The Late Late Show with James Corden.
In a video that has more than 23 million views, Voit starts a rap battle with another driver as onlookers cheer on.
"It was crazy...I didn’t have many views on TikTok. I just bought the microphone one day. I posted something so random using it, because I thought it was funny," Voit said. "I remember that night it got 100,000 views. The next day, I did it again to see what would happen...it exploded."
She continued to post the Carpool Karaoke videos, knowing her audience responded to them. Voit stressed the importance of consistency, posting frequently and not being discouraged by a low view count when growing an audience on TikTok.
"I had a video that I posted that got no traction...three weeks later, it got 200,000 views. I was like, 'woah, where did that come from?'"
"One day you’ll post and you’ll get no views. The next, you’ll post and it’ll explode and your whole account will blow up."
This happens to TikTok creators often, according to Feldman. "I can't tell you how many people I know that posted TikToks for fun and then randomly, one of their TikToks — out of the 45 they posted that month — blew up," Feldman said.
"If you’re posting one-offs, you’re not going to be favourable in the algorithm," Feldman continued. "So consistency and volume are incredibly important."
Remember when the Eaton Centre was flooded with thousands of teens hoping to catch a glimpse of some very popular TikTokers? Matthew Scarfone does. He has over 1.2 million followers on TikTok.
"I was lost in the crowd. People were making videos around me. It was a weird situation. I couldn’t even move," Scarfone said.
Scarfone has made a lot of new friends on TikTok. He’s a member of the Canada Clubhouse - a group of Canadian TikTokers who lived together in a sponsored house (pre-pandemic) and collaborated with each other to create content for the app. He says collab-ing is one of the best ways to grow an audience.
"Doing collabs, you’re combining two audiences. Both creators post them on their pages. It’s a win-win."
Feldman says collaboration is a crucial part of growing an audience. "The key to success in becoming a popular creator on a very popular platform is connecting yourself to other creators, networking and cross-pollinating audiences together in the coolest ways that you can," Feldman said.
Scarfone has had his following since 2015 when he was making videos for Musical.ly. His audience used to be primarily young girls, but like the Caleon twins, his audience is skewing older after he transitioned to TikTok. Now his content is primarily made up of reaction videos and comedy skits.
Saif Shawaf’s content about living in Canada and being of middle-eastern origin has drawn over 420,000 followers to his TikTok page.
Hundreds of thousands of viewers watch his content from Canada and the United States, but an equal percentage of viewership comes from Middle Eastern and North African countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
Saif knows that to succeed on the app, he needs to participate in trends while making them his own.
“For me to not follow the trend, is a very unstrategic move on my end,” Shawaf said. “What I like to do is I like to see what the trend is, and what my version can be like.”
When the WAP challenge took over TikTok, Saif made several videos adapting the trend to his niche. In a post that has over 1.5 million views, he chants the lyrics to the song while a group of professional Zaffe (traditional Arabic musical procession) performers echo the lyrics and play a Goblet drum behind him.
"The coolest thing I do is inject everything about who I am into my content... And a lot of what I am, is being middle eastern, and having a lot of siblings and being a part of a big family," Shawaf said. "A lot of people can relate to that."
Feldman says adopting what’s trending is a relatively easy thing to do on TikTok. "These trends, these challenges...this is what's bringing communities together in the funniest, most outrageous or even cool ways possible."
No article on going viral on TikTok is complete without the mention of music.
Vivian Hicks started singing when she was just three years old. Now, the 16-year-old posts raw videos of her singing to her TikTok account — no autotune, no filter. Hicks’ account began to grow when she overcame her shyness and started showcasing her talent.
"I was really scared to do that at first, but then I did it, and that was one of the first videos that blew up for me," Hicks said. "Now I have over a million followers on TikTok which is absolutely insane."
Her audience ranges from the ages 11 to 16, something she keeps in mind when making content for TikTok. She says music and song choice plays a big role in virality on TikTok.
"The app is all about music, so the song has a really important role in anything you do," Hicks said. "I definitely think if you sing songs that are trending, [your post] will show up on the for you page."
Her top tip for anyone hoping to grow their following in TikTok is to use the sounds that are trending on the app to increase the likelihood of the post showing up on people’s for you page.
"Songs and music are a massive proponent of virality on Tik Tok," Feldman said.
by Maria Sarrouh via blogTO