:Marketing / Social media marketing

How to build a TikTok community to sell more online courses

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TikTok has been a buzzy app for over two years now. Younger generations tend to prefer the app over all the others. And, more and more people are joining in on the fun every day. Today, this social media app has over 1 billion users and was the most downloaded app worldwide in 2020. But, that’s exactly why you should learn to build a TikTok community to help your online course business.

In addition to being wildly popular, TikTok is also an app that’s notorious for authentic and raw creators. This paints a very different picture from Instagram, where everything is curated and aesthetically pleasing. Apart from being popular among social media stars and younger influencers, TikTok has had a huge influence on businesses as well. 

Even the publishing industry has been shocked by the amount of influence TikTok has on book sales, with some titles selling 10,000 copies and claiming spots on the NYT bestseller lists for weeks without any promotion from authors or publicity. 

The power of various communities is huge on TikTok. Users sharing things they love and recommending various products and services have been a massive force for increasing business sales authentically. And if you’re looking to build a community and sell more courses, then TikTok might be an app to help get you started. 

Why building a TikTok community matters

Here are a few key reasons you should focus on building a TikTok community as an online course creator:

1. Increase brand awareness

Word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to market your business in 2021. A reported 84% of people trust their friends when it comes to product recommendations. This number shows the utmost importance of building a community of people around your brand who are willing to vouch for you and recommend your online courses to their friends. 

One of the most successful beauty brands of the 21st century, Glossier, went from a beauty blog to a million-dollar company in less than ten years because their founder, Emily Weiss, understands the power the community has:

“It’s not about one person being the rule-maker tastemaker. That’s not how people are shopping anymore. Women are discovering beauty products through their friends, full stop.”

By building a community for your online course business, you increase your chances of your brand getting noticed by more people when your current customers recommend you to their friends and family. 

2. Foster brand loyalty

In the past, brand loyalty used to keep brands in the business for years on end. There were fewer brands to choose from, so people would choose one they like the most and stick with it for years. In the 21st century, the business landscape is way more diverse, and consumers are feeling less loyal to sticking with one brand. 

According to Ravereviews, only 23% of consumers report having a relationship with a brand. 

Customers are savvy, and only offering a product that solves the certain need or issue they have is not enough anymore. According to DMA’s 2019 survey, 57% of people switch brands because they’re looking for better value. And 31% of people are looking for brands that meet their needs better. 

Those needs might include things like: 

  1. Does the brand’s purpose align with their beliefs and values?
  2. Is the brand honest about things they claim?
  3. What does the brand stand for?

Building a community around your online course business can help you increase your business’s value and help showcase the core of your small business. While old-school brand loyalty is the thing of the past, younger generations of customers are still interested in supporting brands if they align with their beliefs and values. 

And according to Accenture, two-thirds of those customers are willing to spend more on those brands they deem worthy and aligned with their values. 

3. Save on other marketing channels

Focusing on creating a community around your online course business will save you money and effort on other marketing channels in the long run. Online entrepreneur, podcaster, and educator Pat Flynn talks about creating superfans for your business in his book “Superfans: The Easy Way to Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, And Build a Successful Business”:

“Instead of spending money on ads, spend more time on people. Instead of worrying about the latest growth hacks and strategies, worry about identifying and addressing the biggest pains and problems in your target audience. Instead of figuring out how to optimize your conversion rates, figure out the rate at which you’re able to connect authentically with your audience and make them feel special.”

Your community will help you create a group of superfans essentially. Those superfans are going to be the people who will be excited about every single online course you launch and every single business venture you create. 

pat flynn superfans book pat flynn superfans book

The TikTok community v. Instagram community

Online entrepreneurs know better than anyone else how quickly online platforms and social media apps come and go. Not that long ago, we had the short video app Vine, which was very popular with teens and got many social media stars famous. But it shut down, regardless of its popularity. 

Then, there was the Musical.ly app which was the predecessor of TikTok, before the two apps merged back in 2016. Musical.ly also launched many social stars like Loren Gray. But stars like Loren weren’t enough to keep it going. So, it’s natural that people were hesitant about TikTok and its future in the beginning.

However, TikTok has proven over the last 5 years that it’s not going anywhere. And the app has an advantage over other social media platforms because of its unique algorithm and the ever-growing popularity of video content. This is exactly what makes growing a TikTok community vital for online course creators.

Keep reading for the biggest reasons course creators should build a TikTok community.

1. TikTok gives equal opportunity to all creators on its platform

Due to the way the algorithm works (more about that later), it gives a chance for all users to get in front of their ideal audience. This is a huge advantage. Even if you’re a small online course creator with no budget for Instagram or Facebook ads, you can still build a TikTok community and target those interested in your business—as long as you create quality content. 

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook rely heavily on ads. (Reminder: This is how they make their revenue while allowing the app to stay free for its users.) But this takes away the authenticity from the platform and brands who use it. Consumers don’t pay attention to ads and ad-looking posts. 

Trendy and fun TikTok videos that draw attention are the types of content viewers do pay attention to, however. This gives you a better chance of standing out. 

2. Video content is the king

According to reports, 84% of people claim they have been convinced to make a sale after seeing a video. When HubSpot asked people what content they would like to see from brands, 43% said video content. The demand for video content is huge. And it’s only growing with years. This is part of the reason why TikTok has been doing well, and the demand for the app is still huge. 

TikTok allows creators to create 15, 30, or 60-second videos, and they offer built-in tools within the app. You can also go live on TikTok. You don’t need fancy skills or expensive video editing software. You can still create engaging video content all on your phone. If you’re thinking about including more video content to market your online course business but don’t have the time or the means to invest in starting a Youtube channel, TikTok might be a great way to start.

3. You can’t beat the engagement rate

The engagement rate on TikTok is also the highest of all platforms. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the engagement on Tiktok is almost at 18%, whereas it’s only 3.84% on Instagram for micro-influencers. For online entrepreneurs, follower count doesn’t matter as much as people’s engagement. That’s why it’s smart to utilize platforms like TikTok that offer the best opportunities for high engagement. 

What type of content should you create?

As an online course creator, you can create plenty of different types of content for your TikTok community. Depending on your products and your video editing skills, here are some ideas for you:

1. Educational and advice videos

You would be surprised how many people actually come to TikTok looking for advice on various topics—business, relationships, beauty, wellness. If you are an online course creator who offers a course about building relationships, for example, you could utilize TikTok as a way to give quick tidbits of advice. 

Dating and relationships writer Kirstie Taylor grew her TikTok account to almost 100K followers in less than a year:

“I began creating videos about dating and relationships. But it wasn’t until I created a video on dating with anxiety that I tapped into something astounding. After that video went viral, I noticed I hit a nerve with people. It resonated with their personal experiences.”


honestly, this is one of the hardest habits to break 🙈 does anyone else agree? #anxiousattachment #anxietycouple #anxietyrelief #datewithme

♬ original sound – Kelsey Nolan

She amassed a massive TikTok community following who was interested in to her advice on dating with anxiety. This helped her carve out a niche for herself on the app and grow her authority quickly. 

Online entrepreneurs Joe Parys, who runs The Joe Parys Academy, also found incredible success on TikTok. 

He shares valuable advice on making money, starting a business, and being financially savvy. Those who watch his TikTok videos can click to his profile, which leads to his online courses that teach all those subjects more in-depth.

2. Aesthetic videos 

Are you a shoemaker who is teaching people how to make shoes with your online course? Or maybe you’re a fashion designer teaching people how to design their own clothing? TikTok is a great platform to show people what they could get with your course.

Film yourself doing your craft and set it to timelapse with some calming music. These videos have the tendency to go viral because people love to watch things being made and seeing the end result.

Liona Hotta, the creator of The Online Mandala Dot-Art Academy, uses TikTok to showcase her craft. Her videos give potential customers a peek into what her skills are and what they can learn from her if they take her course.

3. Attention grabbers

Have you heard of this clever author who became a bestselling author on Amazon after she made a TikTok video?

The case of this author who created a TikTok who gathered over 1 million views is a great example of the magic of TikTok’s content. People are hungry for clever, authentic content that keeps them excited and engaged and on the edge of their seats. 

Find a unique angle to your online course business, something that could be your hook to keep people engaged and interested. The sky is the limit here, really—don’t be shy and let yourself experiment with different creative ideas. 

4. Responsive videos 

Creating videos where you respond to your audience’s comments can be a great way to engage with your audience on TikTok. 

Dr. Rachel Paul, the creator of Beat The Algorithm, creates very engaging TikTok videos where she responds to viewer’s questions or requests for a specific diet meal plan.

She helps her audience and shows she is engaged and interested in what her TikTok community has to say. It also saves her time coming up with content ideas. This type of content is also great for the algorithm. When you make a response video to someone’s comment, they get a notification by TikTok. This means you’re making them come back to the app to check out your content.

This equals more time spent on the app. And it’s no secret that all social media platforms prefer when people spend more time on them. This leads us to the topic of the algorithm.

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How to beat the algorithm?

Social media algorithms are the top-secret and the biggest headache of many marketers and online entrepreneursEveryone is simply guessing what works and what doesn’t, what can harm your chances of being seen, and so much more. But TikTok makes it easy for its creators. 

In June of 2020, TikTok openly shared the secret to their algorithm, explaining how it works:

“On TikTok, the For You feed reflects preferences unique to each user. The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors – starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in, too – to form your personalized For You feed.”

What’s more, TikTok also announced they base recommendations on various factors such as:

  1. User interactions such as likes and shares
  2. Video information such as captions and hashtags
  3. Device and account settings such as language and country

Every video posted to TikTok gets an equal opportunity to get in front of millions. TikTok first pushes your video to a small pool of people who would be interested in your video. Then depending on how it performs with that pool of people, your video may be distributed more widely. 

Think of it this way: Each new video is your chance of being discovered by more people as long as you create content that’s captivating and valuable to TikTok users. 

That being said, you might still have questions over what things exactly you can do to maximize your chances of getting your content in front of as many people as possible.

So, here are the things you can do:

1. Find your community

There are so many different communities on this app, from mental health, sexual wellness, books to business. When you first join the app, spend some time scrolling and searching the app for people in your niche. See what they’re doing, what hashtags they’re using, and what content performs for them—and what doesn’t. 

Then start creating your own content that contributes something to your community. Always remember to keep it fun and engaging on TikTok.

2. Follow trends and trendy sounds and hashtags

In TikTok’s Discover page, you’ll always find hashtags and sounds that are trending:

tik tok page tik tok page

You’ll also start noticing patterns on your For You page when you scroll through particular sounds or video trends that various people are doing. It’s important to pay attention to those trends, as they’re the key to fast growth. The TikTok algorithm pays attention to what’s trending and to what people are responding to most at the time, which increases your chances of getting seen by more people. 

Joe Parys had used the trend and adapted it to fit his brand, making a video about hardships he went through that made him into a self-made millionaire.


💥ANYONE can become successful and RICH💰- Let me teach you how! 😎#entrepreneur #millionaire #teachontiktok #rich

♬ original sound – Ellen Tate💋

Keep an eye on trending hashtags, sounds, and video trends you could adapt to fit your brand and niche. It’s going to help you show off the fun side of your business, as well as get more eyes on your content and business. 

3. Engage with people

As we briefly touched before, engaging with viewers in the video comments is a great way to gain the favor of the algorithm. So, don’t shy away from replying and even making response videos to your comments, as it will benefit your account and chances of being pushed in front of more people. 

Also, engaging with people is the most important thing when building community. Plus, when people see that you’re active and ready to chat, they’ll be more inclined to follow you and stick around. 

Ultimately, building a TikTok community should be fun and when done correctly, you can really use the platform to build your niche authority.

Author: Karolina Wilde, Karolina Wilde is a freelance writer. Her work has been published on Better Marketing, The Ascent, and Sexography reaching over 25,000+ readers. In her free time, you can find her podcasting, reading, or creating TikTok videos.