TikTok Thumbnail Insight

In part 1, we covered how TikTok differs from Instagram Reels, what subcultures are (aka community), how trends form, and why audio both does and doesn’t matter.

This round, we’re breaking down how your brand can create for TikTok, why subculture matters, and finally, we’ll shine a light on brands that are flourishing and what the takeaways are.

But first, the pre-requisites for effective content creation on TikTok

From the metrics the algorithm values to what captures user attention, success on the app comes with a set of rules. Though open-ended, these rules offer guidance towards understanding the algorithm and leveraging it to create compelling content.

One of these so-called rules is neatly wrapped up in the term “account authority”.

Account authority

In a nutshell, this impacts how your content is distributed to new viewers. Think of it as your content being graded by TikTok’s algorithms, based upon a few elements which are worth taking note of for a successful TikTok strategy.1

First 5 posts Verticality View tiers Deleted videos
TikTok wants you to create a consistent type of video. The first five you create help TikTok evaluate what kinds of videos you’ll continue making. Think of these as your first impression on TikTok. To build authority (or credibility), pick a theme or topic and stick to creating content around it. Switching into a new category is akin to starting all over because you lack authority in that vertical. The number of views you get determines what tier your account is and how easy or challenging it would be to go viral. E.g., 1000-3000 views mean you’re a mid-tier account. Constant deletions tell TikTok that your account puts out a high rate of poor-performing videos.2

Why do view tiers matter?

View tiers are levels of distribution to a cold audience (people who aren’t following you) and your followers based on certain metrics1 such as:

  • Watch time completion and re-watches
  • Engagement variety (e.g., Likes, comments, shares)
  • Engagement velocity (how quickly users engage with a piece of content)

There are 5 view tiers in total, where each level up increases the number of cold audiences TikTok shows your videos to. Whether your video is shown to additional viewers is dependent on overall performance, including the above mentioned metrics.

This brings us back to the fact that TikTok is extremely user-centric. They want to show their users videos that will capture and retain their attention. Hence, watch time is the most competitive metric and the most important one.

While trends abound, people also enjoy content that is unique. This leads us to a big part of what it means to really create for the app.

Create for TikTok

TikTok Content Image

You mean I can’t just jump on trends or repurpose existing videos?

Jack Gordon, an experimental YouTuber, went viral on TikTok in 7 days.3 Here is what he found:

  • The algorithm values standalone videos created for the app. A 6-part series repurposed from a YouTube video needs context and hence, does not do too well.
  • Doing what is popular doesn’t make sense. People would easily get bored and are going to seek out unique videos.
  • The algorithm is like a person who wants to be entertained, hence the algorithm is going to look for fresh new content.

These findings drive home the point that creating FOR TikTok is important. It emphasises that the community and culture on TikTok are different from other apps.

We chatted with our behind-the-scenes TikTok expert and their process.

On top of repurposing TikTok content to Instagram (not the other way around), they added, “most of my content is TikTok-relatable, so if you’re not on the platform, you wouldn’t get it.”

A big part of being relatable on TikTok is understanding who your audience is and creating content that resonates with them. This leads us to the value of finding your subculture, A.K.A your community on TikTok.

Find your subculture

TikTok Content Image

First, themes or verticals are not the same as a subculture. A theme or vertical is broad. It can be a category or niche, while a subculture is a community. For example,

Theme: Food


  • #CookingASMR: Relaxing videos that showcase recipes or the cooking process with an emphasis on showcasing sound.
  • #TooGoodToWaste: A sustainability-focused food subculture that revolves around using up food and reducing waste.
  • #BrunchTok: An aesthetic foodie community committed to creating beautiful meals.

To find your subculture, consider niche interests that align with your brand.4 Subcultures often rise around similar interests or mindsets regarding these topics.4 If a large enough hashtag exists (like #BrunchTok), chances are that there’s an audience there interested in what you might offer.

Doing enough research into a subculture helps your brand4:

  1. Connect with highly engaged and interested communities
  2. Understand these communities’ interests, mindsets, and psychographics to create content that resonates
  3. Tailor your content and approach to effectively target an audience
  4. Establish genuine connection, garnering enormous reach and engagement
  5. Create a brand image around the way you want to be perceived

To give you a clearer picture of how different brands achieved this (beyond funny videos, dance trends, or the classic fashion and cosmetics industries), we’ve analysed two case studies below.

Case Studies

Ryanair: Building a successful community

TikTok Content Image

Source: Extra.ie

Subculture: #Flying


  • Their hashtag #RyanAir hit 655.1M views

Ryanair blew up on TikTok by delivering traditional PR in a way that’s entertaining and relevant.

What they did well6:

  • Comedic content revolving around their value proposition, affordability.
  • Customer experiences and their criticisms flipped into jokes that are both self-aware and entertaining.
  • Videos that leverage trending audio and text memes.7


  • Show up early and experiment.
  • Lose the corporate tone of voice and change the language to suit the audience on TikTok.
  • Read comments to see how people engage with your brand and interact with your viewers.
  • TikTok is a creator-first platform. Creators do more than sell, they build personality.

A testament to the community they’ve built is clear based upon the user-generated content (UGC) from fans of Ryanair. Gen-Zs are so committed they purchased Ryanair flights simply to film they’ve been inside the TikTok famous plane.5

Little Moons: Sparking engagement and driving mass awareness

TikTok Content Image

Source: Hydrogen

Subculture: #ASMR #SatisfyingVideos #Mochi


  • 7M Impressions
  • 15,000 User Generated Videos
  • #LittleMoons hit 150.7M views
  • #LittleMoonsMochi hit 107.7M views

Little Moons Mochi ice cream went viral in the UK after TikTokers shared themselves discovering these small, aesthetically packaged treats.8 As the brand gained traction on TikTok, Little Moons took advantage of its virality and put out content to further sustain momentum.

What they did well6:

  • Brand-created content leveraging trending or viral sounds, while tapping heavily into the #ASMR and #Satisfying videos community.6
  • User-generated content involving food reviews and how users can get their hands on the sell-out ice cream.6
  • To date, their best performing videos involve hands-on squishing and smush-ing the ice cream balls.


  • Leverage FOMO and user curiosity to drive store traffic.8
  • Harness an organic trend and prolong a viral moment.9
  • Gen-Z uses TikTok as a source of inspiration and is primed to discover food brands and share them.
  • Support organic content with a well-placed ad strategy9. Little Moons ran a One Day Max In-Feed Ad. It displayed natively in the For You feed, intended to retain an organic feel to maximise engagement. This paid off, resulting in a 1300% increase in sales in Tesco.


TikTok is an experimental platform with the ability to complement the rest of your marketing channels. It has demonstrated sales impact, opportunities for community engagement, and ramped up awareness for brands. It’s a channel well worth pondering and pursuing.

Kickstart your TikTok strategy with us today. Get in touch.

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