Ah, yes — the mysterious TikTok algorithm. It’s what decides whether your content wins or loses. And it’s how videos go viral on the popular social media app.
Even though TikTok’s code is impossible to truly crack, there are things you can do to boost your chances of success. So let’s dive into TikTok’s algorithm and talk about what it is, and how creators and brands can befriend it.
- What is the TikTok algorithm?
- How does the TikTok algorithm work?
- How to “make nice” with the TikTok algorithm
If you want to mainline TikToks like there’s no tomorrow, there are two ways to get it. There’s your “Followed” feed, where you can scroll through videos that creators you follow post.
Then there’s the forever cherished “For You” feed (or For You page, or FYP). And that’s filled with videos that TikTok thinks you’ll love. And TikTok figures out what to put on your For You page with its own ultra-special algorithm.
Computer Science 101 💡
Developers use a bunch of math and computer science stuff to make an algorithm. Algorithms then take in data about you (device type, location, age, shares, likes, and so on). Then they organize content based on your in-app behavior.
And there are three things that make TikTok’s algorithm so special:
- It’s incredibly detailed and takes in a lot of user data
- It doesn’t take into account follower count
- Everyone’s For You page is unique to them
This is why TikTok delivers such a highly-personalized in-app experience. And that’s why it’s so different from other apps like Insta and Facebook.
(No shade to IG and FB, they’re great platforms that provide lots of value. Just saying that they’re different)
The TikTok recommendation algorithm is like a super brain that sucks in a bunch of data about you. It analyzes that data and populates your For You page with videos you’re likely to enjoy. The point is to keep you on the app watching videos for as long as possible.
TikTok is pretty open about its algorithm and how it works. The app even shared a list of factors that influence the algorithm like:
How you engage with content on your For You page
Metadata about the videos you watch and how you watch them
Device & Account Settings
Metadata about your device and account
TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t weigh each data point the same. It distinguishes between strong points of interest and weak points.
For example, if you watch a long video from start to finish, that has a heavy influence on your For You page. That’s called video completion rate, and it’s a strong indicator of interest.
If you watch a TikTok that was made by someone in the same country as you, that has some influence on your For You page. But it’s a weak indicator of interest and doesn’t influence your FYP as heavily as video completion rate does.
Does the TikTok algorithm hide content on the For You page?
Yes, TikTok’s algorithm works to show you content you’ll like. And it also works to prevent you from seeing things like:
- “Not Interested” content
- Duplicate content
- TikToks you’ve already watched
- Spam videos
- Inappropriate content or videos that may compromise your safety
TikTok Pro Tip 💡
TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t recommend videos based on follower counts. This means new and famous creators alike have an even playing field when it comes to landing on someone’s FYP.
Even though TikTok’s algorithm is sophisticated, there are things you can do to boost your videos. Check out these nine TikTok algorithm hacks to help you go viral next time you post:
Find your niche
On IG and FB, people spend more time engaging with people they follow than people they don’t. But the opposite is true on TikTok where the For You page reigns supreme. This is a great opportunity to connect with new audiences, but you have to find them first.
Focus on your niche
Now that you know where your audience is, make content that resonates with them. Remember that you can’t make EVERYONE on TikTok happy. So stick to what you know and you’ll make meaningful connections with people who truly love your content.
Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags
Research trending hashtags, and hashtags that are relevant to your content. A great way to find these is by opening the app, visiting the Discover tab, and tapping Trends up toward the top. Also, be on the lookout for TikTok trends and challenges, and find out which hashtags they use.
Then USE THOSE HASHTAGS in your videos! It’ll help your audience find you faster on the FYP. And it’s best practice to include one of these, no matter what:
Make the switch to TikTok Pro
There are two kinds of Pro accounts, one for creators, and one for businesses. And even though the TikTok Pro account itself won’t boost your videos, the insights and data inside will. You’ll get a better understanding of your audience so you can create better content. Find out things like:
- Audience demographics
- When your audience is most active
- What kinds of content your audience enjoys most
Create content in TikTok (instead of uploading to the app)
Another way to say this is make TikToks with TikTok. And the best way to do this is with all the tools already inside the app. So all you need is a phone, some lighting, and a mic if you have one. The rest you can do with TikTok:
- Make 5-second to 3-minute videos (but shoot for 12 – 15 seconds)
- Shoot vertically in 9:16 format (this format yields higher watch-through rates)
- Create videos with sound and use tracks with 120+ BPM for better results
- Embrace native features like text and video effects
Play around with new TikTok effects and features
This one’s as easy as it is fun — just open the app, head over to effects, and click the Trending tab. Scroll down to explore all kinds of effects and use them to inspire new video content.
And since TikTok is all about trends, using new effects can help you reach your target audience. Plus, TikTok rewards “beta users” for trying new tools.
Make the first THREE SECONDS of each video POP
You’ve got three seconds to hook your audience, so make the start to each TikTok count. This matters because TikTok’s algorithm rewards videos with high completion rates. So if you can hook your audience and they watch until the end, your video gets boosted. Try to shoot for this kind of content:
- Easy to follow and easy to digest
- Seamless loops
- Friendly for people who have short attention spans
Write captions that captivate your audience
There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many characters in a TikTok caption. You’ve got 150 characters to:
- Tell people why they should care about your video
- Encourage viewers to stay until the end
- Ask a question or pique curiosity
- Inspire engagement (likes, shares, comments)
- Make your audience stop scrolling and watch your TikTok
That’s a lot to squeeze into a sentence or two. So take your time and use this prime real estate wisely.
Embrace the sound of music
You already know that success on TikTok has a lot to do with participating in trends. So just take it a step further and make sure you pay attention to trending audio clips, sounds, and songs — here’s how:
- Open the app
- Tap +
- Tap Record Video
- Tap Sounds
- Start exploring the list
You can compare that list to what’s trending by heading over to TikTok Analytics on the Follower tab.
Final thoughts on TikTok algorithm
Whether you’re a brand or a creator, you can make the TikTok algorithm work in your favor. All you gotta do is:
- Find your niche on the app
- Focus on making great content for your audience
- Research and use trending hashtags relevant to your industry
- Upgrade to a TikTok Pro account
- Create videos using the TikTok app
- Use new TikTok effects and features
- Make sure the first few seconds of each video is engaging
- Don’t neglect your TikTok captions
- Embrace trending sounds, audio clips, and songs
Get access to even more insider tips by checking out our influencer marketing blog. We’re always updating it with ultimate guides, resources, and tons more.