Since 2018, TikTok has been widely accepted as the best place on the internet for aspiring creators to get discovered. Its easy-to-create short-form video content, high shareability, and mystical AI-powered algorithm have made it the perfect hub for talented creators to stand out and grow rapidly.
What is TikTok Live?
Recently, TikTok entered the livestream market where it hopes it can repeat its initial success, this time going up against streaming giants like Youtube and Twitch. Despite the fierce competition, TikTok has already converted over 20% of its current users into regular TikTok live viewers and boasts one of the most vibrant and engaging communities of creators anywhere on the internet.
Just like with its short-form video content, TikTok is finding success with its live content by prioritizing discoverability above all else, making it the perfect platform for aspiring livestream creators. This is your step-by-step guide to learn how to go live on TikTok and what you need to know to make the most out of each of your streams.
Why go live on TikTok?
TikTok’s discoverability alone makes it the obvious choice for growing your live audience in 2023, but understanding exactly what’s so unique about going live on TikTok is vital if you want to find success on the platform, so here are all the benefits of going live on TikTok.
- The Algorithm - Unlike their competitors, TikTok doesn’t break streamers down by category and show you dozens of livestreams to pick between. Instead, the majority of viewers find livestreams through TikTok Live’s “For You” page. The livestreams only appear on the screen one at a time, and what shows up next is completely up to TikTok’s AI algorithm. In short, when you go live on TikTok you’re pretty much guaranteed to get at least some viewership.
- Few established practices and metas - The other benefit of TikTok’s unique discovery-driven livestream display model is that there are far fewer copycats trying to hop onto a specific trend or established practices for what you should or shouldn’t do while streaming. This gives new streamers way more freedom to make whatever content they want to make on TikTok Live, since they aren’t beholden to any expectations for what their stream should be.
- TikTok is still growing - Although this year’s 8.2% growth in the US is a far cry from the blistering 80+ percent growth that TikTok saw in 2019 and 2020, the platform is still the fastest-growing social media app in the US, which means more fresh eyeballs for your stream.
- Great features — On top of a lot of the standard monetization and moderation features you’d expect from a livestream platform, TikTok also has some great unique features like Q&A, multi-guest, and live events. This year they are also rolling out the highly anticipated TikTok Live Shopping feature, which will enable streamers to sell goods to their audience in real-time.
TikTok Live does have its downsides compared to its competitors. For instance, converting viewers into followers and followers into core fans can be harder on TikTok than its competitors, since the vast majority of your live traffic comes from the algorithm-determined “For You” page. Also, for now, the monetization potential of your TikTok audience probably won’t match what you could make with an audience of a similar size on Twitch or Youtube.
With all that said, keep in mind that if you don’t already have an established audience on YouTube or Twitch, you’re facing a massive uphill battle in terms of getting noticed and building an audience. Twitch in particular has such poor discoverability that averaging just six concurrent viewers places you in the top 6.7% of all streamers in terms of viewership.
This makes some sense when you consider that Twitch's monetization model is driven by subscriptions, so the platform has a vested interest in pushing well-established and successful Streamers who sell more subscriptions. TikTok on the other hand has put discoverability first, making it by far the best choice for up-and-coming streamers who know how to keep their audiences engaged.
So, assuming you’re fully convinced that you should go live on TikTok, here’s how you can get started.
How many followers do you need to go live? And what are the other requirements?
The first thing you need to accomplish in order to go live on TikTok is to gain 1,000 followers. To do this you’ll need to start posting normal short-form TikTok videos regularly.
If your content is more suitable for live-streaming, we highly recommend that you start by streaming on another platform like youtube with Opus. You can then use Opus’ magic promo tool to grab highlight clips from your show, which can be converted into the proper format for yoTikTok in seconds.
The most important thing when gaining your first 1k followers is that your content is relevant to your brand, and that you make sure to include tags that will make your content more discoverable to people who share your interests.
Another important thing to note is that while gaining your first 1k followers, you need to make sure your account remains in good standing and you don’t violate any community guidelines.
Finally, you need to be over age 16 to begin going live, but you can’t fully monetize your stream and take advantage of all of TikTok Live’s features until you are 18 years old. Sure, there are ways you can get around the age restriction, but if you are young and hope to find long-term success on the platform, it’s best to respect TikTok’s rule here and focus on improving your content until you are old enough.
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How to go live in the TikTok app
Once you’ve gained your first 1k followers and are ready to go live, there are a few different ways you can do it. The easiest way to go live on TikTok is from within the TikTok App on your phone. First, open the app and click the plus icon like you normally would to record TikTok content, then scroll all the way to the right and you will find the “LIVE” option.
Once you click “LIVE” you’ll see a preview of your stream along with options to add a title, thumbnail, and topic to your show. You also have several settings and additional options available, including turning comments and live gifting (if you’re over 18) on or off, adding effects or filters, sharing a link to your livestream through any other social media platforms or messenger apps you’ve connected, and even selecting a charitable cause you want to support while live.
Once you’ve set everything up and your camera preview looks good, it’s time to hit “GO LIVE” and your show will begin. Whenever your show is over simply hit the power button down at the bottom of your menu screen to end the live feed.
Keep in mind that, unlike other platforms like Youtube, TikTok does not keep a VOD or full recording of your livestream, so once you end your live, all the content you created while live will disappear for good. Please reach out to us at Opus if you are interested in easily grabbing and repurposing clips from your live show to post on your TikTok page or elsewhere on social media.
How to go live on TikTok on PC
For creators looking to do more with their live content than the basic features available to them on mobile, there are a few options available that allow streamers to go live from PC. The first option is downloading the TikTok Live Studio.
TikTok Live Studio
Released just last summer, TikTok Live is the platform’s official response to endless requests from content creators who desperately wanted to stream higher-quality content from their computers. The studio is specifically designed for TikTok so it integrates well with the platform, however, users have also reported that its CPU demand is very high and it lacks polish compared to most available streaming tools. Also, TikTok Live is currently only available for PC, so if you create content on mac you’re out of luck.
There are a few ways you can get access to the TikTok Live Studio. The first way is to open the TikTok app on your phone, hit the plus button to create content, scroll to the right until you reach live, and then flip through the sub-menu options at the bottom of your screen until you find the TikTok Live Studio Option. This will send you the link to download the studio from your phone.
The second way to download the TikTok Live studio on your PC is to go to tiktok.com, log in to your account with over 1k followers, and then head over to tiktok.com/studio/download, where you can download the Live Studio application for PC. If you are logged in and the link redirects you to the TikTok homepage in your browser, it means that TikTok is not currently giving you access to its Live Studio.
In this case, you’ll have to make a request to TikTok to access the studio. Alternatively, it’s been reported that you can use a VPN to connect to an IP address in the United Kingdom, and you’ll suddenly be able to access the page. However, TikTok may not appreciate that you are skirting their rules, so we don’t recommend going this route.
Getting a TikTok Stream Key
Alternatively, if you want to go live on TikTok and take full advantage of all the technology and streaming tools available to content creators on PC-based platforms like Youtube and Twitch, we strongly recommend that you apply for a TikTok Stream key. Read our full guide on how to get a TikTok Stream Key here.
The most important thing you need to consider before applying for your TikTok stream key is that they will only hand out stream keys to creators that it knows are going to be very active with making live content on the platform, so make sure you are going live with a regular cadence before you submit your application.
Furthermore, TikTok is currently prioritizing gamers for TikTok stream key access, since they are most keen on entering the livestream gaming market to compete directly with platforms like Twitch. However, as a leading streaming tool for non-gamers, Opus has been working with agencies like Carter Pulse to help out non-gaming creators and help them secure stream keys. So, if you are a non-gaming creator looking to gain stream-key access, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support.
With a TikTok Stream Key, you’ll be able to connect the livestream on your phone to a streaming tool like Opus and have access to a ton of features that will help you improve the quality of your stream, increase engagement, and reshape the way you monetize your live content. Opus is one of the only streaming studios that fully supports TikTok’s vertical layout, and comes with other relevant features like integrating user comments seamlessly into your stream and applying automatic stream overlays. With a TikTok stream key and Opus, you’ll also be able to simulcast (multistream) to multiple channels like Youtube, Facebook, and TikTok all at once. Join Opus today to see everything that our studio can do for your live content.
Tips for live-streaming on TikTok
Once you’re ready to go live on TikTok, here are some tips for how you can make the most out of your live shows to grow your audience, monetize, and engage with fans.
- Define your topic and your purpose. Remember that on TikTok the vast majority of viewers will discover your livestream from their live “For You” feed, so it's completely up to you to provide them with context on why they should stick around and watch. As a result, before you start going live you should make sure you can answer the following 2 questions and figure out how you are going to communicate the answers to these questions to your viewers:
- What is my live content about? Without a clear topic or theme for your livestream that can peak your viewers’ interests, they won’t stick around on your stream for long.
- Why am I going live? Despite what your boomer uncle probably thinks, TikTok users aren’t stupid. If the only reason you are going live is that you want to become a famous content creator, viewers will notice pretty quickly and leave. You need viewers to connect with you personally and share your mission, passion, or ambition, or they will tune out pretty quickly.
- Establish a format or structure for your streams. Make sure you know what you want to cover and include segments that you cover consistently for each stream so that viewers know what to expect when they tune into your live show.
- Determine the right length for your streams. On the one hand, it can take some time after you hit live to start attracting viewers, so you don’t want your show to be too short. On the other hand, your subscriber growth and engagement will suffer if you run out of interesting content and leave your stream on for too long. Do your best to estimate how long it will take to cover everything you plan to discuss during your stream, and then do your best to stick to that schedule.
- Invite a guest. TikTok users love the stitch feature, and thankfully when you go live on TikTok you’re able to invite a guest to join your livestream. Take advantage of this feature!
- Use TikTok’s Q&A Feature. This feature allows you to respond to your viewers’ questions directly during the livestream. Through the feature, TikTok provides you with tools to select, display, and respond to only the questions that you want to answer.
- Set the right video quality based on your wifi speed.
- Enhance and effect features. TikTok has a number of built-in enhancements and effects that can be really fun to play with while you are live. Make sure you take the time to check out everything the platform has to offer and find ways to personalize them for your stream.
Want more tips for running a successful livestream? Check out our ultimate guide for How to Start Streaming in 2023
Go live on TikTok with Opus
Whether you are just starting to go live on TikTok or are looking for ways to upgrade the quality of your live content, Opus is here to help! At Opus, we believe that we’ve only just brushed the surface of what it’s possible to create while live, and love working with creators who share our passion for advancing live streaming from both technological and creative standpoints. If you want to join us and gain access to our transformative livestream tools, please sign up for an onboarding session here.
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About the Author
Conor Eliot has been working with creators since 2015. Fluent in Mandarin, he helped globalize the creator economy by connecting major Asian and Western brands with content creators in foreign markets. Recently, Conor spent two years leading Asia operations for TSM Esports, where he worked with some of Twitch's biggest creators. Seeing that non-gaming live creators were being massively underserved, Conor joined Opus, where he works with creators to push the boundaries on what is possible to do with the livestreaming medium.