Going live on TikTok has the same benefits as going live on any social media channel: it’s your chance to connect with your audience in real time.
When you’re live on TikTok, viewers can ask questions and engage with you right in the moment. There’s a spontaneity and authenticity that comes with broadcasting live—after all, you’re uncut, unedited and uncensored! Anything could happen, and the chaos is thrilling (not to mention, live streams are a great way to drive social commerce, too).
Whether you’re hosting a series, having a conversation, sharing a tutorial or putting on a performance, live streams create opportunities to flex your skills and build your brand.
One unique benefit of going live on TikTok: if you’re over 18 years old, viewers can send you virtual gifts, which you can then exchange for cash. You can use this feature to raise money for charity, too—though the “exchange rate” isn’t great, tbh.
Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to inform your social strategy in 2021.
The TikTok live stream function isn’t automatically available to all accounts. TikTok users need to be at least 16 years old to have this feature enabled.
TikTok also has limited the Live feature to accounts with 1,000 followers. But that being said… we have heard rumors about a workaround for accounts with fewer followers. We tried it ourselves and it didn’t work, but maybe you’ll have better luck? More on that below!
Here’s how to go live on TikTok if you have access to the platform’s live streaming capabilities.
- Tap the Create icon on the home screen (that’s the plus sign on the bottom of the screen).
- Swipe to Live.
- Pick an image and write a title for your stream.
- Ready to start? Tap the GO LIVE button and your broadcast will begin. Followers will receive a notification that you’re streaming.
- As you’re streaming, you can tap the three dots to flip the camera, add effects, add moderators or filter comments. You can also add a co-host to share a split-screen live broadcast with a friend, guest or collaborator.
- When you’re ready to wrap up, tap the X in the top-left corner to end your TikTok live stream.
Let your followers know you’ve got an upcoming live stream with TikTok’s events feature.
- Tap the calendar icon in the top right corner of your TikTok profile.
- Create an event with a name, start time and date, description, and duration.
- When your event is ready, you can share the link via in-app messaging or link it in a video.
- You can record a promo video by tapping + under Related videos on your events page. Record your video, add an events link, hit Done, and then Post.
Another way to build buzz is with a Live Countdown sticker. Record a TikTok, pull up the sticker panel and customize the Countdown sticker with the date and time of your event. Viewers can opt in for a reminder when you go live.
When you’re recording a Live, at the bottom of the screen, select Add co-host or Add guests.
To go live on TikTok on a tablet, follow the same procedures as with the mobile TikTok app above.
We’d been hearing some rumors that there was a workaround to go Live, even without 1,000 fans. Though we wouldn’t want to endorse non-TikTok-approved hacks, we thought it was worth putting to the test.
Basically, the alleged workaround involved filing a support ticket (a.k.a., a lie) claiming that you used to have Live access, and asking the customer service rep to “reinstate” this privilege.
But, bad news: long story short, when we tried this hack, it didn’t work.
That being said, maybe if you have a more active TikTok presence, you’ll have better luck? Here’s the suggested protocol:
- To file this report, go to Me and select the three-dot menu.
- Tap Report a problem.
- Tap I can’t start a Live.
- You’ll be prompted, “Is your problem resolved?” Select No and then Need more help.
- On the feedback form screen, type “I could previously start a live broadcast and now I can’t.”
- Tap Report.
- Theoretically, a customer service rep will be in touch and enable live broadcasts…
…or maybe they won’t, as was the case when we tried this trick.
If it doesn’t work for you either, you’d better get to work building engagement to drive up your fan count organically.
Live videos may be uncut and unedited, but to produce a memorable stream still takes time, thought and planning. Avoid these common rookie mistakes:
Sure, a spontaneous live stream can be a fun surprise for followers, but to really maximize the number of people tuning in, aim to go live when your audience is usually online, scrolling and active. It’s your best chance at landing on their For You page.
While Live sessions can be as long as 60 minutes, TikTok suggests aiming for about 30 minutes maximum. That’s right: when it comes to live streams on TikTok, less is more.
Posting a regular TikTok video ahead of your live stream is a savvy way to promote your broadcast, because any user who sees your video will also see a special icon that lets them know you’re streaming. This icon will let them pop into your stream directly from their For You feed to scope out the action.
Poor lighting makes it tough for viewers to see what’s going on—a bit of a problem for a visual medium.
Take the time to make sure your lighting is decent before you go live. Seek out a well-lit space with plenty of natural lighting or even grab a ring light.
Background noise can be distracting and disruptive to your broadcast, so make sure to find a quiet place for your stream.
It’s pretty hard to run a successful stream with a wonky internet connection. If you’re cutting in and out, it’s tough for your audience to really engage.
Test your connectivity before you go live, and if your wifi is consistently patchy, it might be worth investing in a higher speed or stronger signal.
A little action or movement can certainly punch up a live stream, but too much motion or shaking can make for a dizzying experience. Instead, aim for a steady position, propping up your phone or using a tripod for the best angle.
Part of the joy of a live stream is definitely the spontaneous, anything-can-happen energy. But if things are too meandering or unfocused, your audience might begin to wonder what, exactly, they’re doing here.
A general plan of attack (talking points jotted down, or a rough outline) can help keep you on track and on message so your viewers are getting maximum value out of their time with you.
The beauty of a TikTok Live is that it’s interactive: you can engage with your audience in the moment, responding to requests or answering questions in real time.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your chat as it’s happening so you’re not missing a chance to build your relationship with your fans.
Not trying to victim-blame here! Just saying that it’s a mistake to not take advantage of the moderation tools TikTok has in place for live streams.
Creators can filter comments, and mute or block viewers if need be. You can also assign moderators to handle any pesky trolls, so you can just focus on creating great content.
You know we’re obsessed with metrics over here at Hootsuite HQ—so we’re thrilled to see that TikTok now has Live analytics in addition to its other analytics. Review your data to see quantitatively how your broadcast went, so you can tweak, iterate and improve for next time.
Now that you know what not to do, explore tons of tips for creating great Live content in our ultimate guide to social media live streaming here.