How to Grow Your Tik Tok Account to 500k+ in 6 Months (Dustin Getzlaf)
With over 500k followers on TikTok, Dustin Getzlaf is one of the lucky few reaching fame through social media.
We exchanged about how he got to this level and how the TikTok algorithm actually works:
Your videos ideas are pretty unique, What inspires you to come up with them?
Most of my ideas are fan requests. It was much harder to come up with ideas in the beginning. I’d spend hours or days researching the right idea.
But once I started getting traction I found that my fans were begging to see me recreate their favorite characters. Then it’s the fun part, trying to find the colors I’m going to draw with using household objects.
You have quite the following on TikTok. Where did it all begin?
My journey began in October of 2018 when Tiktok was brand new.
When I started I made the same content as everyone else – lip-syncs, skits, one liners and some dancing, and like much content was considered at the time, cringe lol.
But my following didn’t come back then. I wasn’t grandfathered into additional views or anything like that as an early adopter.
It was a struggle from the start and my following didn’t come until spring of this year. It took me 18 months to get my first 60k. In the past 6 months I added 500,000 to that number.
Why do you think your content is successful?
I bring something unique that people haven’t seen before. And I capture their attention immediately which is the most important thing – stop the scroll.
There are variations of what I do out there now and copycats have emerged, but my competitive edge is the level and creativity.
My most common comment is “wow” and I think that sums up what my vids are all about. People experience emotions from my videos. It changes their moods.
The number 1 tip I can offer is to listen. Listen to your comment section and listen to the algorithm (views).
The algorithm will tell you if something is working because that video will do better than your other videos. When this happens, take a step back to figure out why, isolate the reasons, then test them. This is where the comments step in to offer more insight.
A comment is worth a hundred likes. It’s way more effort. Way more thought. It means you impacted the viewer enough to interrupt what they’re doing to have a conversation about what they just saw.
If most of the comments are “your eyes are phenomenal” focus on your eyes. Make them the feature and find ways to build content around them.
There are eye reveal audios where you start off with closed eyes then open them at the end. Filters to make them pop. Hashtags you can use.
You told me you love learning about algorithm, what can you tell us about Tik Tok’s secret sauce?
Tiktoks algorithm is world-class. Its machine learning and understanding of how to keep a viewer viewing and a creator creating should be the model for all of the stagnant social media apps we’ve had until this point.
And I could talk for hours about how this all works. But if I was to pick one way to win the algorithm over its niching down.
The algorithm loves a content creator who it can trust consistently. I’ll give you an example, let’s say you make a dirty joke and people love it. You’ll get a bunch of new fans who connect with that style of entertainment.
The next video is you chopping lettuce for a salad. The algorithm now sends your salad video to a handful of people who liked your dirty joke and wouldn’t you know it, they hate this video.
You’ve just lost trust. The algorithm has no choice but assumes you don’t know how to deliver content your fans like. Maybe you’re a fluke.
The faster you can figure out what makes you unique and focus on that, the faster you’ll grow. And the more disciplined you can be in providing that specific niche to your growing fan base, the faster the dominos will fall.
That said, the engine behind it is the same as what powers all media in all formats across all platforms and the internet as a whole – engagement.
You want to stop the scroll by capturing their attention in the first few seconds, keep their attention to the very end, inspire conversations in the comments, and compel people to share it.
Have you worked with any brands before? And if so how was your experience?
Yes, I have. What I’ve learned by working with brands is they are largely unsure how to value your influence and usually open with a low ball product based offer. Which is fair, it’s pretty a nebulous field.
There aren’t a lot of standards in this industry yet and influencers are bad at explaining, and most of the time providing real value.
And how does a brand get the best deal as a company with a marketing budget when one influencer will do for $5,000 what an equivalent sized influencer will do it for a T-shirt?
The problem is Influencers are treating brand partnerships like ads – holding a product up and saying “you should buy this” in a robotic tone. And these videos typically flop. When they should be treating it like content – using the same best practices explained above to focus on engagement and leaving your partner happy with their investment.
That said they are obviously getting bad information or had bad experiences in the past because I get a lot of offers of “gifts” that come with a laundry list of content expectations that often eclipses the requirements of a real brand deal.
But that’s not really a gift, now is it. I politely reply that I’m happy to thank your brand with an Instagram story for the generous gift, but Tiktok content is reserved for paid partnerships.
What has been your most exciting moment as an influencer till date?
I would have to say the most viral video I’ve ever made. I usually hang out and engage with fans’ comments for the first hour after posting but this particular day I was meeting a friend for lunch.
So I posted it then had a shower and got there and we were talking about Tiktok and I had mentioned I posted a video this morning and I’m not sure how it’s doing so we opened the app to find it already had 1.6 million views.
I scrolled and scrolled all the way to the bottom of the notification page, thousands of notifications long, and it wouldn’t load anymore and it was only notifications for the past 14 minutes including flat out skipping the vast majority of them.
I remember when I was newer you’d go all the way to the bottom and it’d be weeks old comments with huge gaps between them. But on this day, my engagement broke the app.
The majority of comments just wouldn’t even display in my comment section. It was truly a surreal experience. That video went on to tie another video for my best performing ever at just over 12 million views each.
What are some of your long term goals as an influencer?
First I want to grow my other accounts. I still have extremely small followings on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube (@badsofficial everywhere).
But I want to coach others on how to grow because I know how real the struggle is, learned so many things along the way and I love to teach.
I have made the first step in this direction as I was recently onboarded at GLG as a social media and pop culture expert providing 30-60 consulting calls for aspiring creators and brands looking to enter the influencer marketing space. I’m really excited about this.
What would you say is the hardest part of this job?
Self-doubt/being resilient. There is no job on earth that hundreds of millions of people are vying for, and this one also happens to have the lowest barrier to entry of all jobs – all you need is a cell phone.
This means it’s cutthroat in a way that’s hard to explain. Cancel culture will erase you with one poorly worded sentence. And no job comes with the real-time criticism of social media.
So picture a job that starts when you wake up and doesn’t end until you manage to fall asleep if you’re lucky enough to.
That has you taking notes in the middle of the night or getting out of bed to make an edit you just thought of. Where there are no weekends.
No sick days. No vacation days. No medical or dental. No guarantee of success. No promise you’ll ever make a penny.
No support from friends or family who believe in the status quo. It’s a solo journey that takes years where everyone including you tells you it’s impossible, quit before you lose what little you have left.
To make it as an influencer you either need luck, immediate star quality, or unwavering grit. Unfortunately for me, I was the latter, nothing came easy. I had to engineer my success from a dead account no-one cared about.
Sorry did that sound negative? It truly is the best job in the world. But getting to a place where it’s a legitimate job, well that’s the hard part.
What kind of advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs or social media influencers?
I have a personal motto that I have written on my wall:
Don’t make excuses, make videos. Social media is putting yourself out there. It leaves you raw to the world and has a way of making you fixate on numbers.
And naysayers and haters and will make you question every single thing you create. This will compound your self-doubt.
It can paralyze you into not creating anything. There were periods where I didn’t make a single piece of content for 8 days because I had so much fear and anxiety it would flop.
But you won’t know till you try. It might be the next big thing. If it’s a cool idea to you, then it’ll be cool to someone else. Live in the moment.
Don’t give your mind time to think of 1000 reasons the idea sucks. When you have an idea, just flip on the camera while you’re still enthusiastic about it and make it as good as you possibly can.
Don’t make excuses, make videos.
Do you have a role model, someone you look up to?
I’d say, Gary Vee. What’s funny is I hated him for the longest time tbh.
A lot of it was probably jealousy that he’s that successful being a run of the mill asshole.
I didn’t like how he was saying things we already know as though he was some sort of psychological savant. But after being exposed to more of his tips I realized that it doesn’t matter if we know it.
Motivation is 98% getting out of your own way. Turning off the doubts that want you to fail so you can do something easier.
Garys straight forward, blunt, cut the bull approach is the sort of coaching that resonates with a logical, blunt person like me that always gets hung up on the details,
Hopefully, where do you see yourself in one or two years?
Fully remote. That’s the dream. It’s one of the reasons I got into this.
I didn’t want to be tied to an industry or city. I wanted a job where I could take a laptop to the beach.
In 2 years I want to still be making people smile, but from that beach.
Since I can’t get the song out of my head #fortnite♬ Chug jug with you - Frend?
Thank you very much for your time! 🙂