Like so many founders who are facing the daunting task of learning yet another new social media platform, I was overwhelmed by the idea of starting a TikTok for my business.
Coming from the world of finance, I don’t have a background in content creation, and I wouldn’t even consider myself a particularly creative person. The thought of coming up with fresh and interesting content day after day that would compete with people who literally do this for a living felt impossible.
And yet, I had a hunch that my company—Tandem, an app that helps couples manage their shared finances—could connect with new users on the platform. As a D2C mobile app, we’ve seen that the best way to acquire users is when they’re already on their phones and therefore have the highest intent. And with a target market of 25-35 year olds, I knew that a good chunk of that phone time was now spent on TikTok. (For some context, TikTok users in the U.S. spent an average of 25.6 hours per month on the app as of January 2022, and the majority of those users are 34 or younger.)
So, I took the leap and launched Tandem’s TikTok account in August 2022. Within just a few weeks, the account had amassed over 13,000 followers and over 1 million organic impressions and, months later, that number keeps on growing. It’s been so successful that I recently added a second account—@missmoneymichelle—to become a finance influencer in my own right and bypass expensive influencer marketing for my brand. In just a few weeks, I gained over 17,000 followers.
Better than followers, though, are the business results. While I’ve been mindful of not pushing Tandem too hard in the early days, instead opting to bring value and build a trusting relationship with my followers before I start selling to them, I’ve already seen some videos translate into new website visitors and app users. I also know that in the long run, having our own audience is crucial in a world where digital advertising is increasingly expensive. Plus, learning from the content that most connects with people will inform Tandem’s product roadmap as we consider new offerings to help couples master their finances together.
Of course, I’ve been doing all of this while also running my business. For any other founders who feel like TikTok is a mystery or that they simply don’t have time for it, here’s the exact schedule and strategy I’ve used to build up our accounts so quickly.
I learned from other successful TikTokers
I should start by saying I didn’t plot out a successful strategy all on my own. To kick off my TikTok journey, I spent a few weeks immersed in the Secret Socials course, which helped me learn the ins and outs of the algorithm and best practices for making engaging short form video.
One of my key learnings was that each video needs to have an initial “hook.” Essentially, the TikTok algorithm pays attention to engagement metrics like how long users are watching your videos, likes, comments, and shares to determine what to share more widely.
But you’re not going to get traction on any of those metrics if people don’t watch your video long enough to even figure out what it’s about. Those first few seconds are crucial, and I learned to talk quickly, add a headline with text on screen, and be a bit dramatic with my titles to really catch a viewer’s attention. (For instance, “three things that saved me $1,000 that no one knows about,” is much more eye-catching than “three money-saving tips.”)
I also learned how to use TikTok’s data to inform my content. Using the app’s search bar, you can browse topics related to your niche, and then filter by recent, most liked videos. I’ll look up everything from generic “finance” videos to more specific topics like “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday,” scroll through what’s working for other creators, and then consider how I can put my own spin on that topic to jump on a trend and create something valuable for my audience.
I used a series to help me experiment and gain traction
In addition to following TikTok best practices, the strategy that’s most helped my profiles grow is striking a delicate balance between quantity, consistency, and quality.
Quantity is important because, in order to grow a following quickly, you need to give yourself as many chances to go viral as possible. I decided to aim for posting three times a day, seven days a week, so I could rapidly understand what’s working and what flops.
Consistency, in both type of content and frequency, is important so that people know what to expect from you. If someone lands on your profile and sees 20-30 videos on a topic they’re interested in, versus a few disjointed posts, they’re much more likely to follow your profile. I found that launching with a series—in my case, financial tips for couples under the umbrella of “Things Power Couples Do”—helped me keep that consistency early on.
Finally, to grow an engaged following, it’s essential to put out quality content that provides real value. I’ve had a few purely funny or entertaining videos go viral, but they’ve rarely translated to followers or new users. Meanwhile, I’ve found that the most successful videos are when I share unique tips that have made a real impact in my relationship, such as creating a shared email address or getting on each others’ insurance as domestic partners.
Now that my accounts are more established, I use a five-video series to experiment with new topics, especially ones that are more time bound. For instance, I created a short series about winning the lottery when the major Powerball was happening, and one about Travel Tuesday deals during Black Friday weekend. Creating a few videos for each topic allows me to try slightly different hooks and cover more information without any one video getting too long. Usually at least one or two within a series will go viral, but I can rarely predict which, so it’s crucial to try multiple approaches.
I created a schedule and looked for shortcuts
Content creation can take up a lot of your time if you let it—and as a founder, I don’t have a lot of it. I’ve found the best way to consistently post at my ideal frequency is to batch my content creation efforts.
Typically, I reserve Monday afternoons for brainstorming and ideation. I’ll look at trending TikTok data and metrics from my own posts to see what type of content is performing well. I’ll also think about upcoming holidays or current events. Then, I’ll list out all of the topics I want to cover that week and what the hooks will be. Sometimes I’ll loosely script out a video, and other times I’ll plan on just talking on the fly, depending on the topic.
Then, on Tuesdays, I spend 4-5 hours doing my filming for the week. This is doable because I’ve found a few key shortcuts to be more efficient. For one, I’ll always use the green screen feature, which allows me to drop in any background I’d like. This helps create some variety even if I’m filming all of my videos in the same place, and also means I can create from anywhere if I need to be out and about on filming day. (I’ve definitely recorded videos from my car!.) I also invested in a mini microphone to ensure high-quality sound no matter where I’m filming. And a final weird hack: I wear big sunglasses in all my videos so I don’t feel pressure to do my makeup. It saves me time and has become part of the brand look. I also try to edit on Tuesdays so I’ll have a full lineup of finalized videos to post throughout the week. I typically spend at least a few hours making edits to ensure the posts are engaging, including things like cutting out dead space and adding in captions.
I’m not going to lie—TikTok is still overwhelming to me sometimes. Consistently putting out new content isn’t easy, and it requires showing up even when I’m not feeling it. Plus, since TikTok is always changing, I can’t just find what works and stick with it. I have to constantly be paying attention to the data along with what’s working for other creators, experimenting, and iterating.
But, with some simple strategies and a schedule I can follow week after week, I’ve found a way to make TikTok work for me. And the result—a deep, ongoing connection to my audience—makes the effort more than worth it.