How I Grew My TikTok from 30k to 145k Followers in 9 Days

Here is everything I did.

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In my last update:

  • I walked you through the strategies I followed in my first 30 days on TikTok that got me to 30k followers.

  • We spoke to viral TikTok’er Ryan Beard about his experience on TikTok and his tips for creators and brands (he grew from 480k to 640k followers since I sent the last newsletter out! Congrats Ryan!)

  • I went over the ideas I was thinking about for my TikTok moving forward.

Well, here we are, 9 days later, and a ton has happened and I’ve learned a lot.

This is what we’re going to cover today:

  • The new strategies I tried on TikTok (I posted 13 new videos) and how I more than doubled my followers from 60k to over 145k! (I even broadcasted live on TikTok for the first time!)

  • I had the chance to sit down with Run Gum, an ecommerce brand started by a 2X Olympian that just got started on TikTok (I also work with them via my company Octane AI). It’s really interesting to see how brands are starting to think about TikTok as a marketing platform.

  • I may or may not have created a TikTok video with 1,000 people at the Klaviyo ecommerce & marketing automation conference in Boston AND afterwards I found out that a bunch of people in the audience made TikToks OF THE TIKTOK! So cool. You can check out my TikTok video here and the other angles here, here, and here.

Ready? Let’s jump into today’s update from theforyoupage!

p.s. Just a heads up, I am considering releasing a paid tier of this newsletter in the future.

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My TikTok Stats (@mattcatbat)

Stats are from October 4th, 2019. My account was created on August 7th, 2019

  • Followers: 146,269 (+82,371)

  • Likes: 1,058,246 (+494,056)

  • Video Views (Past 28 Days): 8,157,035 (+4,022,336)

  • Profile Views (Past 28 Days): 207,635 (+111,170)

  • Days on TikTok: 58

What I Did on TikTok Last Week

In my last update I interviewed Ryan Beard (640k followers on TikTok). While he liked my content (“I like that your style stands out because you use the drawings on paper which is something I haven't seen much before”), he had some clear suggestions.

Here’s what Ryan recommended I do to improve my account on TikTok (@mattcatbat):

  • Up until now I have mostly posted videos that are pointed at a table where I show my hands and pieces of paper with doodles and writing on them. Ryan said that I should show my face more so that my followers build a personal connection with me and not just my drawings.

  • Ryan didn’t love how often I have been doing mind reading videos. I have gotten a lot of success with these, which is why I’ve kept doing them, but they don’t have good repeatability since there aren’t an infinite amount of mind reading videos I can create (3 of my most popular videos are all almost exactly the same video but with slightly different drawings and dialogue). For example Ryan has different repeatable formats that he does every week, like “Un-motiviational Monday” and “Woke Wednesday”. This allows him to have an endless amount of content because he isn’t tied to a specific video he is tied to a theme. Ryan suggested that I try and branch out from making mind reading videos.

So, I tried to follow Ryan’s advice, with varying success. None of my experimental (non mind reading) videos went super viral, but they did get anywhere from 6k to 50k+ views each and I found some concepts that I’m really excited to explore more.

Here are the 13 videos I posted this week:

p.s. I know… before you say anything.. my battery is dying in all my screen shots this week. I plugged it in though, it’s ok now!

1. Mind reading video #1.

There is a mind reading trick I have done a few times on my account which almost always performs really well. However, I don’t think it’s a great viewer experience if I just keep doing it over and over again, so this video was my attempt at inventing a new type of trick. It did alright with 8k likes, 1.5k comments, and 39k views, but didn’t go super viral. This video didn’t follow any of Ryan’s advice.

2. Mind reading video #2 where I tried featuring a brand that I work with at Octane AI.

Last week I was speaking at the Klaviyo BOS conference in Boston (a conference about email marketing for ecommerce brands) and I was having a lot of conversations with attendees about TikTok. One of the brands there (that I work with at Octane AI) joked that based on my follower count I should do influencer marketing for them.

I took this as a challenge and the next morning I shot a mind reading video where I featured their brand, Skinny Mixes, at the end. I was curious - could I apply the same viral format I had previously had success with, but do it in a way that also included their brand?

The results were pretty good! This video got 16.3k likes, 2.3k comments, and 145.7k views!

I went through the normal mind reading trick, but I included products from their store during the reveal of the trick. I am interested in figuring out more native ways brands and content can be merged. This video still didn’t follow Ryan’s advice.

3. I recorded a TikTok while on stage at the Klaviyo BOS conference.

This was really fun! While most of the presentation I talked about how Messenger and SMS marketing is really effective for ecommerce brands, at the end of the presentation I told the audience they should all be looking into TikTok as a huge opportunity for viral distribution. The 1,000 people in the audience were great sports and helped me shoot a fun video from the stage (thanks everyone!).

This video is pretty off brand for my account since its not following any of my previous themes, but it was a video that featured my face! So this video was the first one that started to attempt to follow Ryan’s advice.

This video got 726 likes, 28 comments, and 10.3k views.

4. Instead of a “I’m going to read your mind” I tried making a “I’m going to blow your mind” video.

So this was me trying to figure out other types of content I could try creating that wasn’t about mind reading. Like my other videos I showed shots of my doodles, but this time I also flipped the camera to my face so I could talk to the audience directly. This video didn’t do that great with 1.8k likes, 266 comments, and 14.9k views.

5. I got my fiancée to shoot a video transition!

One advanced technique on TikTok is to create video transitions. There are a lot of different video transitions people do, I’ll share more of these as I experiment with them (and learn how to do them), but this one was based on a current trend for the sound “Absolutely Anything (feat Or3o)” where you move your arms in front of you to the beat and then change your clothes or appearance mid shot as your arms are moving.

This video turned out to be really cool as it introduced my fiancée, which is personal to me, to my audience. Later when I went live for the first time on TikTok there were people in the chat who asked where my fiancée was. It makes sense, but for some reason I was really surprised that by simply posting this video she became part of my story and brand in the eyes of my viewers.

6. Joke video where I show the incorrect words to a song (but it sounds like those words could be what the song is saying).

Another attempt at doing something that isn’t a mind reading video. I don’t know what other songs I could do this with, maybe I could google for existing content on the internet where people have found songs where you could think the words that were being sung were different than they actually are, but I don’t think this is a type of video I will shoot again. 1.4k likes, 26 comments (really low!), and 15.7k views.

7. Mind reading video #3 that was a recreation of my most viral video ever but with a different story and some fancy editing. This got 3 million views and is my new most viral video ever!

So, again… wasn’t following Ryan’s advice. But! I did something in the video that was pretty cool.

I shot the entire video backwards so that when I revealed what you were thinking at the end it would show up because a tiny pile of ash caught on fire and turned into a piece of paper with the number you were thinking of.

To do this I recorded the video backwards, then I put it into an app on my phone (VideoLeap) and I reversed it, sped up parts of it so I could get the overall video time down to under 60 seconds, and recorded a voice over so that it felt like the video was going in the right direction.

This video didn’t include my face, and I did it because I knew it would work really well. I will likely keep doing different versions of this video at least once a week until I figure out new viral formats from my experiments.

This video got 358.8k likes, 29.4k comments, and 3 million views and is where most of my recent growth came from. The big takeaway here is that adding extra flare to your video can be really effective (and if you’ve found something that works, keep doing it while exploring new ways to expand your content offering).

8. I hit 100k followers and posted a video of me doing the video transition my fiancée had done to commemorate the milestone!

This was a silly video, but it was a shot of me with one of my drawings taped to my shirt (so the viewers could associate me with the drawings) and then I transition to a drawing where I have 100k followers and then I say thank you to the viewers. It’s not something meant to go viral, more of a community building shout out to my followers. This video got 1.7k likes, 33 comments, and 16.2k views.

9. I recorded a video of me drawing the @mattcatbat cartoon character.

I really liked doing this video and I definitely want to do more videos like this. It was really easy to shoot, it has music (most of my videos are just me talking), and it’s not a mind reading video! This type of video has high repeatability since I can do videos drawing different things and it appeals to an audience of people who like drawing.

This video got 2.3k likes, 14 comments, and 17.8k views. If this video had taken a while to do I wouldn’t want to make more of them, but because it was so easy I definitely want to explore this concept more.

10. The @mattcatbat doodle challenge!

This video was an experiment to see if I could get some higher levels of engagement from the viewers and include them in the experience. I showed my viewers how to draw the @mattcatbat character and challenged them to duet my video and draw the character themselves. I told everyone that I had recently reached 100k followers on TikTok and whoever did a duet drawing the @mattcatbat would get featured in a future video (I haven’t created this video yet as people are still doing duets, but I will post it in the future!).

21 people have done duets drawing the @mattcatbat character! It was really wild to see even this many people drawing this little cartoon that I made up.

This video got 747 likes, 50 comments, and 6.1k views. It was my least viewed video, but because of the duets I think this concept shows a lot of potential and is definitely something I want to keep experimenting with.

11. Mind reading #4 BUT I included my face in it!

So… not completely following Ryan’s advice, but I thought I would experiment with combining a mind reading video with also including myself in it so that I could build more of a personal brand with the viewers.

This video got 6.5k likes, 1k comments, and 51k views. On the upside, people saw me in the video, so thats good, and the video did pretty well. Downside is I’m pretty sure if I shot this same exact video without me in it then it could have gotten 100k+ views if not 1 million. Ideally I want to find a video format where I can be in it but it also can get at least 1 million views.

12. I made my character dance to a trending sound.

By drawing different frames of my character on overlapping pieces of paper, and shooting the video at 3X (slows down the 15 seconds to 45 seconds of record time but then speeds it back up to the 15 seconds), I shot a pretty hacky animation of the @mattcatbat character dancing to a trending sound with the related trending dance.

This video got 671 likes, 15 comments, and 6.3k views. I love the idea of animating my character so that it can participate in trends like this, but I think in order for this to perform well I need to figure out how to do real animation vs this hacky version (I love the animation concept @tootymcnooty does on her channel, you should definitely check our her videos. She even recently made an animated video to the audio of Ryan Beard, and it went super viral with almost 5 million views!).

13. I created a video explaining how TikTok works.

In another non mind reading attempt, I took my style of shooting videos where I point the camera down at my hands and pieces of paper with doodles (like in my mind reading videos), but instead of a mind reading video I told a 60 second story of how TikTok works.

This video got 3.7k likes, 101 comments, and 16.9k views. It didn’t get 1 million views, but I think the data is really promising. I could make explainer style videos for an infinite amount of things, so I’m definitely excited to try different topics to see if something catches on. I think there could be something here.

Bonus: I broadcasted live on TikTok for the first time!

When you reach 1,000 followers on TikTok you unlock the ability to broadcast live. While you are live, your thumbnail on all of your videos gets a “live” badge and when people click it they are taken to your live broadcast instead of your profile page. This means that if you have a video going viral, going live can be a really effective strategy to connect with your new influx of viewers (viewers can also tip you with virtual paid gifts during your stream and you can cash them out for real money).

This was my first time going live, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I decided I would point the camera at a piece of paper and just draw whatever the viewers wanted me to draw. This ended up being really cool and I think the viewers had a lot of fun with it.

Here’s the drawing that my viewers and I ended up creating together

Summary of what I tried and learned:

  • I included my face in more videos with varying success.

  • I definitely want to keep doing at least 1 mind reading video a week because I know it works, but I also need to keep experimenting to find a new more repeatable viral format.

  • I’m going to keep posting milestone videos to celebrate with the community (I’ll do my next one at 250k followers).

  • I will continue to explore the following experiments from this week: Drawing something to music, animating my character to a recent trend, encouraging duets, and explainer/story videos.

  • I really want to find a repeatable format that I can designate to certain days of the week. For example I have an idea where I can use the explainer/story format from video #13 to do like “Made Up Move Mondays” where I go over a pretend movie plot using my drawings. I’ll try this and see what happens!

Interview with Nathan Woods, COO of Run Gum

@rungum | 2,300+ TikTok Followers |

Matt: What is Run Gum?

Nathan: Run Gum is your solution to slow absorbing Energy Products. Created by a 2x Olympian, Our Energy Gum is infused with caffeine, taurine, and b-vitamins to give you a faster boost so that you can make the most out of your busy days.

Matt: Are you using TikTok for Run Gum yet?

Nathan: We have had an account for most of 2019, but just observing the platform. We began participating and actually producing content for it late September.

Matt: How do you think about TikTok? What kind of channel is it for you?

Nathan: It’s crazy fascinating. The amount of attention you can get from it right now is what got us so interested it adopting it to our strategy. Right now it’s really just a playground and we are learning how become part of the TikTok community.

Matt: What does TikTok need to be able to do in order for it to be a valuable channel for Run Gum?

Nathan: There will be a time where it would be nice to redirect or have a call to action to a landing page. But I also appreciate it is what it is right now.  Attention is valuable not matter what and we seeing we can get that with TikTok. Now it’s on us to create valuable content for the platform. We see the value in it long term.

Matt: What's your current plan for growing on TikTok? What kind of content are you thinking of posting?

Nathan: Right now – we are committed to 6-7 pieces of content a week and learning what works. We have also just been repurposing content we have already for other channels and adding the TikTok style to it. 

Matt: Have you thought of working with TikTok influencers or running TikTok ads? How do you feel and think about these options?

Nathan: Yes. Both are top of mind as we build out this channel and part of our strategy as we open up 2020.

Matt: What questions should we ask other TikTok creators and brands when we interview them?

Nathan: For product companies, how they are incorporating their products into the content.

Time they are devoting to creating specific TikTok content.

Type of ads that are successful.

Thank you Nathan for taking the time to share your TikTok journey with myself and theforyoupage readers!

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p.s. When I’m not posting TikTok videos at midnight, or pretending I know how to do the “woah”, I am CEO of Octane AI where we power Messenger and SMS marketing automation for over 1,000 fast growing DTC brands. Check out the recent 250+ page playbook we put together to learn more.