February 14, 2024

How the TikTok Algorithm Works: Top Tips to Boost Your Views

How the TikTok Algorithm Works: Top Tips to Boost Your Views

TikTok has grown substantially over the past few years to become a major social media platform, captivating users with its short-form video content. However, with over 1 billion monthly active users, getting seen on TikTok has never been harder. 

This article explains how the TikTok algorithm works, helping you to increase your views, engagement and followers on the platform.

Understanding the TikTok Algorithm

The For You Page (FYP) is at the heart of the platform’s algorithm. It’s a curated stream of videos tailored to your individual preferences. The TikToks you see here are primarily from accounts you don’t yet follow.  

The FYP is the default setting for the Home screen. If you prefer, you can select ‘Following’ at the top to only see content from those accounts that you already follow.

At its simplest, the FYP algorithm is a smart recommendation system. It shows content to people that it thinks they will like the most, keeping them on the platform and coming back for more.  

This algorithm is constantly evolving. It learns from your past interactions to show you content that aligns with your current interests. 

So let’s say you’re constantly searching and watching for TikToks about sailing. The algorithm knows that you’re interested in that topic and will therefore show you more videos about sailing. 

There are several key factors influencing the algorithm:

  1. User interactions: Every view, replay, like, comment, share, profile visit or follow is a piece of data that the algorithm considers. It analyzes these interactions to understand your preferences, offering you content that best aligns with your interests.
  2. Video information: The algorithm assesses each short-form video based on its hashtags, captions, and included effects. This helps categorize the content, making it easier for the algorithm to connect videos with the right audience, as well as making it more searchable.
  3. Video content: Even without this information, the algorithm still uses clever technology to understand what’s in the video. For example, TikTok knows if a video has Leonardo Di Caprio in it, even if Leo isn’t mentioned in the caption or hashtags.
  4. Device and account settings: While not as influential as other factors, settings like language preference and device type play a role in content curation.

TikTok's algorithm is not just about what it shows, but also what it deliberately doesn’t. Content that is misleading, spammy, or previously watched is generally excluded, optimizing your TikTok experience and maintaining a certain level of content quality. 

The algorithm will also penalise videos that violate community guidelines or promote unsafe behaviors. This type of content can lead to a poor user experience, resulting in TikTok users leaving the platform and not logging in as much. In turn, this lowers TikTok ad spots and revenue, which explains why you must abide by TikTok’s rules if you want to be favoured by the algorithm.

Maximizing User Interactions

Engagement with your audience plays a central role in the TikTok algorithm. The more your audience interacts with your content, the more likely it is to appear on other users FYPs.

Here are some strategies for you to use:

  1. Create relatable content: Videos that resonate with viewers often spark conversations. For instance, a day-in-the-life video that shows the ‘real’ version of you in your gym gear is likely to result in higher engagement. It feels more authentic and people can relate to it more than ‘picture-perfect’ videos.
  2. Use engaging captions: Ask questions, start challenges, or simply provoke thought to encourage comments. For example, a beauty brand could ask its followers what their favourite colour of lipstick is. 
  3. Encourage user-generated content: Duet and stitch features not only help to increase your reach but also create a sense of community. For example, a music artist could challenge their followers to duet with their latest single.

Fashion brand H&M’s interactive campaign serves as a perfect case study. They encouraged users to share videos wearing their products, using a specific hashtag. The campaign went viral, significantly increasing both brand visibility and user engagement.

Optimizing Video Content

Optimizing video content is crucial for TikTok success, especially if you’re a brand. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Strategic hashtags use: Using relevant hashtags increases the chances of discovery. If you’re a home decor business you can use trending hashtags, hashtags related to your video content, as well as niche hashtags related to your type of interior design.
  2. Leverage trending sounds and effects: Utilize the Discover tab to find what’s trending. A fitness influencer could use a trending workout track to increase the chances of TikTok being featured on FYPs or to a greater percentage of followers.
  3. Focus on quality content: High-quality, well-edited videos are more likely to be favored by the algorithm. Focus on good lighting and clear audio.

An example is the cooking channel @marukosine which has 720K followers. Their recipe videos are well-edited in short 1 second clips, keeping viewers engaged until the end. This is a great sign to the algorithm that the video is high-quality, helping it feature on more FYPs, and further increasing video and followers.

Leveraging Device & Account Settings

While not as influential as content or user interactions, device and account settings still play a role. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Geographical relevance: Content tailored to specific regions can increase local engagement. A local bakery in Sydney, for instance, could use Australian slang and terms in its videos to increase its appeal to Sydney-siders.
  2. Language preferences: Catering to the language preferences of your audience can lead to better engagement. 

Quality & Interest Indicators

Quality is a silent yet powerful part of the TikTok algorithm. Whether you’re posting organically or advertising on TikTok. Here's how you can ensure your content is of high quality:

  1. Video completion rate: The algorithm looks at what percentage of people watch your TikTok until the end. A higher video completion rate will greatly increase the extent to which your video is recommended to others. Create captivating content that keeps viewers hooked till the end. 
  2. Video replays: Similarly, the algorithm loves it when people re-watch your TikTok. Having a surprise ending is a great tactic as this makes people want to see it again.
  3. Add captions: This not only makes your content more accessible but also increases viewer retention. 

A good example of this is the DIY crafts channel @metdaan.diy. They focus on high-quality, easy-to-follow tutorials. Their emphasis on clarity and simplicity has resulted in high engagement rates, establishing them as a go-to resource in their niche.

Posting Strategies

Posting at the right time can significantly boost your content's visibility. Here are some strategies:

  1. Analyze your audience: Use TikTok analytics to understand when your audience is most active. Sharing your content at this time should result in more engagement and views. But, evenings for some might be mornings for others. Consider whether adjusting your posting times might attract an audience from the wrong region. Food TikTokker @theres.food.at.home experimented with different posting times and found that evenings were the most effective. 
  1. Be consistent: Regular posting keeps your audience engaged and eagerly awaiting your next video. You’ll establish a small group of highly loyal followers that interact with all of your content, driving the algorithm to expand reach to more users.

Piggyback Trends & Challenges

Tapping into TikTok trends and challenges is an easy way to boost your view and followers:

  1. Use the Discover page: Regularly check for trending hashtags and challenges. 
  2. Blend trends with your brand: Next, find a way to incorporate trends into your brand’s identity. For example, a tech review channel could create how-to guides using trending songs, striking a balance between entertainment and educational content.

For example, a pet supplies brand named @pawdexstore leveraged a popular pet challenge to showcase their products. This approach not only increased their product visibility but also connected them with a broader pet-loving community.

Extra Tips for Algorithm Mastery

Here are some additional tips to help you master the TikTok algorithm:

  1. Dueting and stitching: Collaborate with popular accounts through duets and stitches. This not only increases your visibility but also helps you reach new audiences.
  2. Utilize TikTok effects: Creative use of TikTok’s effects can make your content more engaging and shareable.
  3. Study your analytics: Understanding what works for your audience is key. Ask yourself why one video performed well and why another didn’t. What can you learn?  Continuously analyze your performance and adapt your strategy accordingly. 

Final Thoughts

Mastering the TikTok algorithm is a blend of art and science. By boosting user interactions, optimizing your videos, leveraging trends, and posting strategically, you can significantly enhance your visibility on the platform. 

Remember, content quality and consistency matter most. If your content doesn’t appeal to people, all the other algorithm tactics won’t matter. Find out what your audience likes and deliver more of that content to them. Similarly, be consistent and train your audience to expect regular content from you. That initial base of engagement from your core followers will send a strong signal to the algorithm that your content should be shared with more people. 

Jonathon Tanner

Jonathon Tanner

Co-CEO and Co-Founder

Co-CEO and Co-Founder of SMC, earned Social Media Educator of the Year from SMMI. With vast experience in social media strategy and content marketing, he's also a co-founder of other businesses. Specialising in growth strategy, Jon has a background in management consulting specialising in M&A.

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