The most fun way to learn TikTok best practices

Don't worry, there's no dancing involved
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Sergey Mironov/Getty Images

· 6 min read

There’s something about TikTok that can feel a bit scary for the uninitiated. Maybe it’s the youths—42% of 'Tokers are between 18 and 24 years old. Maybe it’s because TikTok’s the first true social network that requires all content to be video. Maybe it’s the unresolved uncertainty around its “ties” to China. No matter the reason, it sometimes feels like brands—most of which are so keen to make original content on new social networks—just haven’t adopted TikTok as much as you’d expect.

Never fear—I want to show you a fun way to learn TikTok best practices.

The app doesn’t bite! It’s home to wild creativity, amazingness, ridiculousness, and effectiveness. You’ve just gotta learn a few tips and tricks, and we can do that by looking at your favorite account.

Step 1: Pick your favorite TikTok account

Note the above doesn’t say pick your favorite brand account—pick your favorite TikToker. I don’t care if it’s a creator, a puppet, watercolors, or that “hey buddy” guy (who I adore), this should be fun! We’re making learning fun!

I’m going with StrictlyBBall for my own hunt. They’re a trio of Minnesota boys who earned 1.3 million followers through their high school basketball coverage, ranging from highlights and mixtapes to interviews and investigative “Where are they now?” pieces. The guys also created one of my favorite “brand extensions” ever by starting their own pro-am basketball team.

Step 2: Browse their ’Toks to your heart’s desire

Yes, I just gave you permission to scroll and scroll and scroll. I talked to your boss, they said it’s cool, they get it’s research. But seriously, go binge like you’re watching The Office when you should’ve been asleep two hours ago, only more mindfully.

Step 3: Go find their highest performers and wildly speculate

Head back to the account’s profile page and scroll down until you find big view counts.

StrictlyBBall has hit the 100k–500k range pretty consistently, so I started poking around posts that eclipsed the million mark:

Here’s where your Jedi training comes in. I want you to watch those top performers and theorize why they went viral. Virality isn’t accidental, it’s learned. Be open-minded, and start guessing what made these pieces so special to the algorithm and the people. I’ve worked in social the last decade, but I’ve never talked to StrictlyBBall—here’s my own guesswork on their virality:

Let’s look at this “Where are they now?” TikTok for Bjorn Broman…who?

This one stumped me at first. Sure, they mention he averaged 50 points per game at the 0:06 second mark—that’s a big stat line that could earn eyeballs as a strong hook. Having an atypical look for your content niche can earn extra views—maybe it’s his name and nationality? The “Where are they now?” format is certainly a clever hook style, as it automatically implies the subject matter is someone the viewer should already know.

But then I browsed the comments and saw Bjorn actually replied—he’s a big TikToker now with his own 502,000 followers! So my guess: A smart, practiced content format + engagement from the TikTok celeb it’s about = algorithmic love!

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Now, let’s look into that teenage-matchup ’Tok: 2.2 million views on a young high school rivalry?

I clicked in and immediately saw a very strong hook: “The #1 and #3 ranked player in the class of 2025 faced off…” Instant reputation-building. Instant curiosity for viewers—of course we wanna see what the No. 1 15-year-old basketball player in the nation looks like!

But here’s some wildness: The TikTok doesn’t actually tell you how the matchup went. It outlines both players’ skill sets and history, but stops there. That should show you the power of the TikTok hook—the first three seconds matter more than anything.

This last combo of TikToks is great for analysis because they’re repurposed clips, both of which did big numbers. The first is simple: film of a truly incredible dunk in a truly incredible gym. Sports fans know when an unaltered highlight has started in their feed, something amazing is about to happen, and boy, does this tomahawk dunk pay off that promise. But watch that second TikTok, where the lead-in is the exact same footage before turning the jump-off into a cliffhanger. The video turns into an introduction to dunker Tahaad Pettiford and a highly exclusive high school all-star game.

From my browsing, I noticed that red-arrow cliffhanger hook used frequently, often in StrictlyBBall’s highest performers. That’s a great move I’d have never thought of! Love that they built a record scratch with a repeatable visual cue for their account.

Step 4: Go find their lowest performers and wildly speculate

We can learn from highlights, we can learn from lowlights. Find the flops from your favorite TikToker and consider why they didn’t work. Here’s a few from StrictlyBball:

Basketball purists will be bummed that Bronny James earns 5+ million views on StrictlyBball, but the most legendary rivalry in basketball history couldn’t break 200k. The reality: If Gen Z’s running rampant on TikTok, they’re more interested in the current and future NBA than those guys from the ’80s. And it seems Strictly learned—you see almost zero historical basketball content on their page now.

The account tried its hand at local pro basketball news when Rudy Gobert was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that didn’t even hit 100k. My take: Gobert’s not exactly a beloved player, the TikTok focused more on the creators than the player, and it lacked the action we expect of their usual toks.

Finally, two promotional TikToks didn’t put up big numbers either. Now, this is where thinking outside just social analytics is so important, because it’s smart that StrictlyBBall made those TikToks—they’ve gotta promote themselves and their partnerships! That content will never be among your highest performers, but they’re still essential.

Step 5: Take those fresh theories to your brand

Hopefully, your fun li’l browse inspired some ideas. Maybe you learned a hook style (I love that arrow mechanic Strictly uses) or have new ideas for content series (the “Where are they now?” is so smart).

Take that inspiration, chat with your teams about it, encourage them to try the same exercise, then apply your theories to your content!

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