A perfect TikTok starring...tomato sauce?

Tips to make a 10/10 TikTok
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Tim and Renee, TikTok's @thruhikers

· 4 min read

After hours and hours of mindless scrolling research, I found it. I’ve discovered the perfect TikTok. A TikTok that’ll teach you every single best practice. A TikTok that’ll teach you how to write a hook, how to tell a story, how to make a perfect loop, when to introduce yourself to non-followers, and, most importantly, how to dehydrate tomato sauce.

Meet Renee and Tim, better known on TikTok as @thruhikers. They’re a couple who treks long hikes across the US, amassing 2 million TikTok followers along the way via their how-to hike prep and day-in-the-life content. Just take a look at their consistent virality:

But back to tomato sauce. Don’t believe me? 14.7 million views say otherwise. Let’s dig into thruhikers’ perfect TikTok and everything you can learn.

0:00 - 0:03: The hook

On TikTok, the first three seconds matter more than anything—@thruhikers have mere moments to convince a scroller to lift their thumb to watch. Being clever has its advantages, but so does being on the nose. Plus, when food is presented in weird, unexpected forms, the visual sells itself. “This is what dehydrated tomato sauce looks like!” is a great hook. As viewers, we want more!

0:03 - 0:13: The story

Next, @thruhikers pull out all of the smart tricks in the social strategy playbook in record time. In just 10 seconds, they hit:

  • Three fun facts that work well as standalone hooks
  • Timelapse footage that varies shot styles, keeping your eyes guessing
  • Quick cuts that still follow a linear narrative
  • Alternating male and female voices catch the ear

These are the little things that differentiate good content from great content. The core hook’s strong enough to earn algorithmic love either way, but when you nail so many best practices in one piece of content, your chance of virality increases significantly, thanks to increased retention.

0:13 - 0:20: Why follow?

A Social Media Newsletter by Jack Appleby

When your hook is adjacent to your mission, it’s important to transition your audience into understanding who you are, whether you’re a brand or a creator. Remember, they’re not food scientists, they’re hikers.

The voiceover moves from tomato sauce to “Soon we’ll embark on a four-month outdoor adventure…” and begins showing dehydrated food used during their hikes. It’s a natural flow, contextualizing the content’s hook in their lives. Even within that pass, the hook of the four-month hike is enough to get you interested in the rest of their content.

0:20 - 0:30: How-to + Loop

Twenty seconds in, viewers are fully hooked, and @thruhikers haven’t even mentioned how to dehydrate tomato sauce yet. Most TikToks would’ve jumped into the how-to, but Tim and Renee save it as a final storypoint for one very important reason: It builds a natural loop. TikTok’s algorithm grants bonus points for repeat views. TikToks begin replaying once they’re over, so many creators build “loops” that seamlessly tie the end of their TikTok with the beginning.

Notice how the final frame above matches the first frame? Viewers barely realize they’ve finished the video before it begins repeating, and even more effective, they probably want to watch it again to soak up all those quick fun facts.

How can my brand use these TikTok tips?

While these creators aren’t selling a product, each of these lessons can easily be applied to brand content thinking. When you’re making your own TikToks (or any social content for that matter), consider the following:

  • Be honest about your hook’s strength. Will it actually pull in viewership? Try writing the hook 25 different ways.
  • Consider how long you hold on a shot. We may love cinematic touches, but they’re often not best for social. Vary your cuts more frequently than you think you need to.
  • Cut your script to bare bones. What are the most interesting elements?
  • Build a final line that naturally transitions back into your hook.
A Social Media Newsletter by Jack Appleby