In order to go viral on TikTok, it helps to understand how the TikTok algorithm works.
Although there have been different controversies surrounding TikTok in the past years, from ownership to growth efforts, moderation policies, etc., this social platform proves that it is a transparent company that hides nothing and can be trusted by users.
In proving its transparency, it has recently revealed how its algorithm works for recommendations and how some videos can go viral on the platform, and some others don’t.
The primary factors mentioned by TikTok as the specifics of their recommendation system and the major drivers for videos that appear within the feed of a user are:
- User interaction: TikTok takes into account the videos that you have liked or shared previously, the accounts that you are following, the kind of content that you create, the comments that you post, etc., showing you videos. For instance, if you post content with a particular hashtag, the chances that you will see other people’s content in your steam using that same hashtag is very high.
- Video information: more minor details such as specific songs and sounds, captions, and hashtags are also considered before showing you a video.
- Account and device settings: this factor does not carry as much influence, but it is also considered. It includes the type of mobile device you use, your country setting, language preference, etc. According to TikTok, these factors are considered to deliver an optimum presentation to you but are not as important as the first two factors.
These factors only prove that TikTok’s algorithm works similarly to many other social media platforms as well. It considers the type of content that you engage in and tries to give you more of that. Commenting on a post means that you are likely to see more of that account’s content. Also, using or engaging in a hashtag means that you will see it more on your page.
Taking this information into consideration and considering the success of other accounts, it’s easy to understand how TikTok’s algorithm work. So, if you are looking to take advantage of this to make your video visible on the “For You” page, for instance. There is a way to go about it. In this article, we will be looking at five examples of how the TikTok algorithm works.
Video performance gives more exposure.
The TikTok algorithm works differently to another platform such as YouTube when it comes to this. With YouTube, you have to do so much more before the algorithm can recognize you. However, it is not the same with TikTok.
With TikTok, you can gather millions of views for one video without even having a large number of followers or content. The algorithm carefully considers the interactions on individual videos and how it performs, rather than going through your profile or channel history.
This is something unique about TikTok and separates it from other platforms.
So when you create video content and post on this platform, the algorithm first shows the video content to a small number of users. This video is offered to them along with other popular videos featuring on the app’s “For You” page.
If this small set of people who see the video engages it with likes and comments or follows you, then there is a chance that the video will be shown to more users, and it can go viral from there.
This is why TikTok is unique, and it is easy to go from an unknown into fandom within an eye blink.
Geo-location is important for video exposure.
The TikTok app is not restricted to a particular location. It is an app that is used globally in almost all countries of the world. However, when you first post a video, the initial focus of the TikTok algorithm is to show it to people within your region or have some proximity where you are.
It is only when the video starts to gain popularity within that geo-location or region that the algorithm begins to show it to others internationally. Then it appears on the app’s “For You” page.
Once this happens, it becomes even easier for the video content to receive massive exposure.
According to some college paper writers, this app can be used to market local businesses, particularly so that the products or brand gets some exposure. The videos are first shown to people within the location before a broader distribution.
So, if you are a local business and you are launching a new product, you could use this app as a means to pass your message across. This will help people around you discover you and your new product.
The algorithm considers different factors before featuring videos on the “For You” page.
TikTok’s algorithm considers different factors before determining the videos featured on “For You” pages and the ones that will be higher or lower in this section.
Some factors that are considered are:
- Level of engagement such as likes and comments within a specific timeframe
- The number of people that share the video in 24 hours.
- Full video views
- Video rewatches
- The hashtag used for the video
- The number of followers that is gained from the video within the first 24 hours
These are the things that the algorithm considers. So when you are making your videos, your focus should not be about matching with the current trends.
You can create unique videos. By doing this, you’ll be standing out from the crowd. This platform values entertainment and ingenuity, so you should try to be yourself and have fun.
Using trending music and hashtags
Two of the simplest ways to ensure that your video reaches more people and goes viral is to create the video using a trending sound or music in addition to a trending hashtag.
This way, you will be ensuring that the video content is highly discoverable from the point where you post it on the platform.
The algorithm uses the trending hashtag to funnel the video into related content and other relevant discovery pages. It will also help the algorithm organize your video content and include it in an extensive database with other related videos.
The truth is, you might not be able to tell the hashtag that has the best potential to boost your exposure on TikTok. However, here are some of the hashtags that are mostly used by the biggest TikTok influencers:
The hashtags are often explicitly used because of their potential to boost the likelihood of your content showing on the “For You” section of the app, where it will get the most significant attention.
It also makes sense for you to include hashtags that are relevant to your video content. When you do this, you help the algorithm decide the best spot for your video to be featured on.
The use of trending music and sounds is also known to massively increase the level of exposure that your video gets on this platform
There is a section in the TikTok app where it is possible to navigate to find a sound and check out all the videos that are associated with that sound.
It is becoming increasingly likely that TikTok will give more priority to trending sounds and music because that’s what the core of the app revolved around.
So, the addition of trending music and sounds to your video can increase the discoverability of the video to give you more views.
Any video can go viral on TikTok.
Unlike many other social media platforms, an interesting fact about TikTok and how the algorithm works is how any video can go viral. It does not even matter if it is a new or old video. It can go viral at any point. This is different from other video platforms such as Instagram and youtube.
TikTok’s algorithm monitors how your videos perform, even if you have put them out many months before.
This app may have some preset performance stats configured with the codes that ensure that videos continue to move higher as they continue to perform better over time.
So, it may come as a surprise to you that a video that you created and posted months ago continues to get views even though it already appears irrelevant because it is old.
This means that you should not stop monitoring your old videos. You may even try to change the hashtag that you used in the videos from time to time so that you will be able to get more traffic.
Personalizing your “For You” section for the TikTok algorithm
We’ve discussed TikTok’s algorithm. How it works, and how it decides the content shown in the feeds and For You page. However, understanding the algorithm also means that you can explore it and use it to personalize your “For You” page.
One of the good things about TikTok is that it is a discovery app. It does not matter if you only have five followers. It can still take up hours of your day as you scroll through the videos.
To make the most of this app, you should consider personalizing the content you see on the “For You” section. This will ensure that you only see contents that interest you.
Here’s how you can go about it:
1. The category section
This is one of those prompts that you get when you’re setting up your account for the first time. You will have to select categories such as sports, beauty, travel, pets, etc.
The algorithm uses this information to customize the recommendations that you get on the For You page, especially since you are yet to follow any account or engage any video at this stage. The algorithm relies on your category preferences to gather the initial sets of videos that will appear on your feed and For You page.
However, if you don’t choose any categories, TikTok will show you the general feed which will consist of popular videos. This will help you with something to start.
Then, the algorithm starts to learn about those things that you find interesting based on things like comments, likes, replays, etc. It can gather your preferences.
So, if you have a brand that’s new on TikTok, make sure that you choose categories that are relevant to your brand and engage with content that are enjoyable for you. This will help the algorithm learn the kind of things that you want to see and show them to you.
2. Look for more of your interests
The TikTok algorithm is programmed to learn from every action and everything that you do on this app.
You can use this to curate the content that is on your feed and For You page. This will ensure that your feed becomes more relevant to you and shows only things that you’re interested in.
Also, you should note that it isn’t only the video content that you engage on the For You section that shapes your overall feed. There are other factors too.
For instance, if you follow a new account, this action will impact the recommendations you find on your feed. The same thing goes for other actions, such as exploring hashtags, trending topics, effects, sounds, all the actions you take on the “Discover” tab.
Never forget that the TikTok algorithm learns from everything you do on the app and uses the information to curate the content you see.
Final thoughts about the TikTok algorithm
TikTok is a very interesting app and the algorithm works quite differently from those of other social media platforms especially the video platforms like YouTube and Instagram. It is essential to understand how TikTok’s algorithm works so you can enjoy the app even better.