Justin Cottle teaches Gen Z all over the world thanks to TikTok’s organic reach
The impressive strength and organic reach on tikTok may be used for a good cause! The Institute of Human Anatomy (10M followers on TikTok) uses human cadavers as instruments for anatomical education. Justin Cottle, one of the three associates of IOHA got the idea to put content on social media and gained 1 M followers the first week. Justin walks us through his growth strategy below.
What were your goals when you decided to launch on TikTok ?
I have a lot of students on TikTok, so I knew that there was a lot of exposure. I teach high schoolers all the time, so I’m familiar with how much human anatomy they know. I knew that TikTok has a lot of organic reach, and it could speak to young kids who need to know about their bodies. I knew that if I could make something interesting, they would watch it.
Did you have a growth strategy before launching on TikTok ?
At the beginning I did not have a strategy other that I just knew I wanted to post every single day. I wanted to try things, to experiment things, to see what works and what doesn’t. When it took off immediately, then we realized we needed a bit more strategy going forward.
Before we posted our first video, I got in contact with TikTok and asked them if it would be okay for us to put our content on their platform, because I knew it would be more graphic than what people were used to. They answered immediately with an emphatic yes and gave us the contact of one of their TikTok content strategists, so I would be able to work with him right from the beginning.
I had a long phone call with him who gave me his guidance like “you only need three hashtags”, “don’t worry about tagging FYP” and things like that. As immensely helpful as the conversation was, I didn’t follow each of his recommendations until our videos started blowing up like crazy. Since TikTok performs so well, everyone started going to our Instagram and was asking for a Youtube channel, so I decided that a more solid strategy was going to be extremely important going forward.
Does TikTok have a better organic reach than Instagram or Facebook ?
TikTok just has a better format. TikTok reaches farther than Instagram because you just keep scrolling — it’s addictive. TikTok’s format makes it easier to talk with people and explain things to them. I think TikTok has a great organic reach because it’s so easy to go through content, it’s so easy to stay there for an hour or at least twenty, thirty minutes at a time. Since it’s new to the social media landscape, obviously that helps with its incredible organic reach.
Above, @IOHA had 3.4M followers in February of 2020. By March of 2023, they had 10.2M followers.
How can you increase organic reach on TikTok ?
If you want to be successful on TikTok you need to be real, you just need to be authentic. I don’t look at any of the trending hashtags unless when I’m uploading, if the trending hashtags happen to fit what I’m gonna do, great, but I don’t force anything. Every single video that I produce, I hashtag it the way I want to, and I make sure that it’s simply to educate, to be real.
In order for people to get better and bigger on TikTok, they just need to be themselves and not try to be something else. It’s easier for me because I have something insanely unique in human cadavers that other people don’t have, and I’m very aware of that. But what I’ve also noticed is that we’re the only creators on TikTok doing what we do. That’s not just with human cadavers, but with the way we’re educating people — our TikTok content strategist told me it was the most special thing about us. But that’s something anyone else can do with anything they want to. You can do it with dancing, with make up, it doesn’t matter — just teach.
You have to engage with your audience. I read every single comment, even if there are a thousand of them. I may not be able to respond to them all, but I read them. I take notes about what people want to know, and which part of the body they are interested in. I have a whole list of videos that I’m gonna do in the future, and pretty soon I’m gonna start mentioning people, like “Hey @xxxx thank you for this” in the description. It’s important to engage with the community, listen to them, and put out content they want to see as well.
Do you check your analytics ?
I check my analytics at least ten times a day. I check everything I possibly can. I’m looking for trends, I’m looking at which video is performing the best obviously, but I want to see where geographically, and what time of day. This allows me to see when my users are more active, and makes gaining views more predictable. I watch everything, because then I’m able to develop new strategies. This week I’ll probably try to post videos at 7 am because I noticed that is when my followers are more active.
I love anatomy, I love the human body — I’m a teacher. Right now, I have a giant microphone and I’m able to teach millions of people around the world. It’s good for our company because it helps bring in potential clients and students. We’re only three people, but we’re able to get our voice and our passion out there. I’m talking to people in Norway, in Indonesia — everywhere. The reach is amazing.