January 8, 2023
The art of the TikTok hook—woof. What a topic. If you’re on the marketing side of TikTok at all, then you’ve seen (what feels like) every single marketing guru talk about hooks—why they’re important for engagement, why they’re necessary for growth, and how you need them to achieve overall success on the platform. But really, what is a TikTok hook? And how do you get good at them?
For the purposes of this blog post, let’s assume you don’t know a single thing. In this post, I’m going to reframe hooks against the popular definitions and really get down to the nitty gritty about what makes a successful TikTok video.
Let’s dive in.
First Things First: What is a TikTok Hook?
At its core, a hook on TikTok is what captures your attention and gets you to keep watching. Any video you’ve watched for more than 5 seconds has hooked you in some way, whether that be verbal or not.
A lot of marketers on the platform will give you verbal hook ideas, but hooks can be anything. It could be an interesting concept, a hot girl in a bikini, a topical hot take about something relevant in your industry… it really just depends on your content.
Here are a few examples of hooks, as guided by my TikTok feed this morning:
- If you’re an influencer and your account is all about aspirational, aesthetic videos, then the hook could be a stunning shot of your gorgeous living room, or a really well-edited day-in-your-life.
- If your account is all about your life and opinions, you might start with a controversial sentence like this guy did—”I’mma say something and if it offends you, like, if you feel hit by this, good. You are meant to feel hit by this.” (Spoiler alert: the rest of the video was him talking about how he doesn’t understand people who litter.)
- If you’re a fitness trainer (or really any kind of creator at all), you could just…. be hot. That’s definitely a hook.
- If you’re a chef or food creator, you could start off a recipe video by showing us a gorgeous, delicious dish, and then show us how to make it after.
- If you do funny skits, then I’d venture to say that your ability to pick a relatable topic is the hook itself. People will stay to laugh at their own expense (or the expense of others they know IRL).
All of this to say, HOOKS ARE NOT JUST VERBAL! If you’re like me and most of your content is simply talking at the camera, then perhaps they are mainly verbal—but you can also add other elements that make your hook a slam dunk.
Why Are TikTok Hooks Important?
Now that we’ve answered the question “what is a TikTok hook”, let’s talk about why hooks are important.
Of course, if you’re investing any time into creating TikTok content, you want people to actually watch it. (I mean, if not, that would be a huge waste, right?)
It goes without saying that hooking your audience helps them 1.) understand what you’re all about, and 2.) incentivize them to watch the whole thing. I mean hell, you’ve got amazing ideas bestie, and you’ve got an impact to make—we want you to share your knowledge with the world!
But apart from all that, hooks are extremely helpful to the algorithm. (Yes, the dreaded A word.) I hate it as much as you, but the amount of time people are watching your video matters. The longer they watch it, the more appealing TikTok will assume your video is, and the better views you will get.
A Few Fast-and-Quick Hook Tips
I’ll be honest. When I’m creating TikTok content, the hooks are the hardest part. But finding really good ones (and developing the skills to do so) are *so* worth the extra energy. Here are a few hard and fast hook rules that I like to follow when I’m creating video content.
Keep It Short and Sweet
People are smarter than you may think they are—and if you’re clear enough, they’ll get it. (One of my bad habits is over-explaining. As a person with a lot of niche interests, I always feel pressure to over-explain certain topics or industries to people I know IRL, because I never know what other people know.) You don’t need to over-explain on TikTok—usually. And if someone’s confused, they’ll comment to ask for clarification, which just drives up engagement anyway.
The main purpose of TikTok is to be entertained, after all, so loosen up a bit and show us your personality! Even if you’re talking about your business, educating us on a particular topic, or telling us about your day, don’t be so buttoned up! (Most of my high performing videos are of me, sans makeup, in my pajamas. Like…. for real.)
When all else fails, people are drawn in by movement. So if that means you edit together an aesthetic video of your living space, keep the pace going quickly. If you’re sitting in front of the camera and talking about a topic, try doing your makeup while you do so, or engaging some kind of activity with your hands. People love to watch other people do mundane tasks. Use it.
Use Active Voice
When I saw this TikTok it completely changed the game for me. In the video, Christopher is talking about how when most people talk, we use a “roundabout, indirect way of communicating”, instead of using active voice. Try using active voice in one of your videos and see how it goes!
Ask Yourself “Why”
Another incredibly important tip, and one that I learned from my pal Xanthe Appleyard. When creating content, always ask yourself “why”? For example — if I want to make a video about how to get better at TikTok hooks, I should first ask myself, “why should my audience care?”. In this example, my answer would be “because it’ll help them get better views”. So I’ll ask myself again, “why should my audience care that it will help them get better views?” to which I’ll land on “so that they can connect with more people and make a bigger impact.” And thus, my hook could be something along the lines of the impact, not just the hooks.
And Finally…. How to Get Better and Better at Hooks
Hooks are an art, not a science. It’s one thing to know the “rules”, and completely another thing to use them in the wild, make them pop, and have them actually work. Even if you employ every single tip here, there’s still a good chance you won’t go viral—and that’s because the algorithm is largely based on luck, too. Don’t fret, though—creating content on TikTok is extremely worth it. Here’s how to get better and better at using hooks to your advantage.
Experiment with Different Approaches
So much of success on TikTok can be measured by how “authentic” you are perceived to be—but obviously, when you’re creating content for a platform, it’s not like you’re being 100% yourself. This can take some time and experimentation to get the content just right. See what sticks, see what feels like you, see what doesn’t and go from there.
Try recording 2 videos about the same topic, but use a different opening line for each. You might be surprised to discover which one does better, and you’ll learn a whole lot too. (An added benefit to this is that you’ll have double the content for half of the ideas. Two birds/one stone.)
Keep a Favorites Folder
When you hear a good opening line or concept from a video that’s doing well, write it down in some kind of favorites folder. You can use it as inspiration for later, and maybe even do well yourself! (Note: don’t copy other creators word for word!!!!)
…. and Keep Creating!
The only way to get better and to know what really works is to keep on creating content. Now that we’ve answered the question “what is a TikTok hook” and how do you get good at them, you’re a pro! Get over there and start creating, the world needs you.
If you liked “What is a TikTok Hook and How Do I Get Good at Them”, you might also like:
Hi, I'm Sarah Kleist.
Brand & web designer, personal brand strategist, and marketing educator obsessed with the power of connecting with audiences.
An actually-fun-to-read weekly newsletter about marketing, design, business, the arts, creativity, mindset and more.
love this post?
read the next one: