Unravel the TikTok Algorithm: Boost Reach & Engagement
Since its first release in 2016, TikTok has become the fastest-growing social media platform, and the highly personalized recommendation algorithm of TikTok is the reason why this app is so addictive. Many people say that TikTok knows them better than they know themselves.
So how does the TikTok algorithm work exactly?
Whether you want to become an influence on TikTok or a brand looking to expand your influence through TikTok, understanding the algorithm will provide you with the much-needed impact. It can help you understand how to create videos to gain more exposure and ultimately attract more TikTok followers.
In this article, I will explain that how the TikTok algorithm works. More importantly, how can you use the algorithm to have a positive impact on your TikTok marketing results? keep reading to find the answer.
What Is the TikTok Algorithm?
The TikTok algorithm is a recommendation system that determines which videos to display to users on their “For You” page based on users’ personal preferences. The videos users see are selected by the algorithm’s calculation, and in theory, these algorithms can find the videos you want and show more similar videos to you.
As a result, the “For You” page is highly personalized for each user, and no two users will see exactly the same page. Even the videos you see may change over time, depending on your preferences and the videos you are currently interested in. The TikTok algorithm can quickly capture your behavioral changes to recommend the most appropriate content at the moment.
TikTok Algorithm Factors
So how does TikTok know which videos to recommend? According to TikTok, the algorithm considers three core factors:
- User interaction
- Video information
- Device and account settings
1. User Interaction
The TikTok algorithm is very similar to the Instagram algorithm because it places great emphasis on how users interact on the platform. In other words, it looks at your behavior on the platform to understand what you might like. It considers key data signals such as:
- Videos you like
- Videos you share
- Accounts you follow
- Content you create
- Comments you post
- Videos you add to favorites
- Creators you hide
- Videos you mark as “Not Interested”
To further narrow down your interests, TikTok also considers how much of a video you’ve watched. The video completion rate is a strong signal of user interest in the content, meaning it carries greater weight in the TikTok algorithm. Additionally, the algorithm favors creators whose videos you frequently watch, rather than those you follow but often pass up.
What we can do:
- The TikTok algorithm values whether users watch videos to the end. If you create shorter videos that can be easily completed in just a few seconds, this may work to your advantage.
- One of the simplest ways to increase user interaction with you is to find the best posting times. You’ll have more opportunities for users to watch your videos and interact with you if you post them when your users are online.
2. Video Information
In addition to user engagement, TikTok also considers the information in the video to identify topics and then assess what kinds of videos you are interested in. According to TikTok’s public documentation, video information includes:
- Captions (titles)
- Video description
What we can do:
- As topics play an important role in the TikTok algorithm, it is crucial to consistently create videos in relevant areas. The more videos you create in niche markets, the easier it is for TikTok’s algorithm to categorize your videos and show it to the right people, increasing the chances of appearing on the right users’ “For You” pages.
- The TikTok algorithm also considers video captions/subtitles, which is another opportunity for you to improve content visibility. You can now add up to 300 characters in titles. So, you have enough space to write an engaging title to describe your video or add context.
- Whenever a user likes a video, the TikTok algorithm will show you other videos with the same music or sound. This means that sound can present trends similar to hashtags and effects.
3. Device and Account Settings
TikTok also takes into account your device and account settings, although its weight is lower compared to user interaction and video information factors. TikTok still considers this information as recommendation signals. Device and account information that TikTok takes into account include:
- Language preference
- Country/region settings
What we can do:
If you are targeting a specific market for TikTok marketing, pay attention to the language and country settings on your device. For example, if your target market is Spain, don’t set the device language to English.
4. Batch Effect (Unconfirmed)
Although TikTok has provided some information about the algorithm, they certainly have not shared everything. Therefore, there are various speculations about TikTok’s algorithm, and the “batch effect” is one of the most popular among TikTok creators.
In the batch effect, TikTok shows your videos to different batches of people at different times. The users’ reactions to these videos determine whether TikTok will push these videos to more people. Generally speaking, the more views and interactions your videos get, the more likely TikTok is to recommend them to more batches of users.
Some creators have observed significant fluctuations in their video views. For example, 100,000 views on day 1, 10,000 views on days 2 and 3, and then 200,000 views on day 4.
What we can do:
The “batch effect” speculation essentially still revolves around video views and interactions. The only thing we might consider is not to delete poorly performing videos in a short period – they may just have not been distributed to users yet!
What the TikTok Algorithm Doesn’t Show
To continuously optimize the user experience, TikTok excludes certain content from appearing on users’ “For You” pages, ensuring that users do not continue to see the same videos or videos they have explicitly indicated they are not interested in. This means that the TikTok algorithm does not recommend the following types of videos:
- Videos that users have already seen
- Spam content
- Duplicate videos
- Videos marked as “Not Interested” by users
- Potentially harmful/disturbing Videos
The TikTok algorithm processes 3 core factors (and possibly many others!) and assigns weights to them, such as the duration of video views having a greater impact on the algorithm than the video’s geographic origin. After a series of calculations, TikTok queues this content on users’ “For You” pages. The closer your videos are to user preferences, the more likely they are to be ranked higher.
What I like most about the TikTok algorithm is that while accounts with a large number of followers may get more views when they post videos, the number of followers does not affect the algorithm recommendation system. Therefore, whether you are a popular creator or not, as long as you have good videos, you have a chance to become an influence. It’s an opportunity for everyone!