In this ultimate guide, we explain the inner workings of the TikTok algorithm, the factors that influence it, and share expert tips to boost your chances of going viral. Let’s get into it.

How the TikTok Algorithm Works

Before we go into the specifics of the TikTok algorithm, we need a basic understanding of how it works. Unlike algorithms on other social media platforms, TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes content based on user preferences and engagement rather than followers or popularity.

Even if you’re new or have few followers, you can still go viral. This can be achieved by understanding and using the algorithm effectively on the platform.

You can then use Agorapulse to schedule out all your TikTok content and measure its performance. Grab your free trial to get started.

Understanding the TikTok Algorithm

The TikTok algorithm is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. It constantly analyzes user behavior, such as the videos they watch, like, share, and comment on, to create a personalized “For You” feed (FYF) for each user.

TikTok example

Example of TikTok marketing

When you open the TikTok app, the algorithm quickly evaluates your behavior, such as:

  • The types of videos you interact with
  • How long you engage with them
  • The soundtracks you enjoy

TikTok then uses this information to present you with a feed of videos that it believes you will find interesting and engaging.

But how does the algorithm determine which videos to show you? Let’s take a look at the key factors that influence the TikTok algorithm.

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Factors That Influence the TikTok Algorithm

The TikTok algorithm takes into account various factors when recommending content to the For You Feed, including:

  • Video quality: High-quality videos with clear visuals and good production value have a higher chance of being recommended by the TikTok algorithm.
  • Video completeness: TikTok values videos watched in their entirety. Create content that keeps viewers hooked from start to finish.
  • Engagement metrics: User interactions, such as likes, shares, comments, and saves, are strong indicators of quality content. As a creator, you can encourage engagement by adding call-to-action prompts in your videos, inviting viewers to like, share, or comment.
  • Video information: When you upload a video on TikTok, you can provide additional information through captions, hashtags, and descriptions. These details play an important role in helping the algorithm understand the context and content of your video. By using relevant keywords and hashtags, you can increase the chances of your video being discovered by users interested in similar content.
  • Interacting with TikTok trends and influencers: TikTok is a social platform, and engagement is key. By actively participating in the TikTok community, following relevant influencers, and interacting with their content, you increase your chances of appearing on the FYF of users who share similar interests. The algorithm takes into account your interactions with other users and uses that information to recommend videos that it believes you will find interesting and engaging.
  • App usage patterns: The TikTok algorithm takes into account the time of day you use the app and the frequency of your usage. By posting your videos during peak usage times, when more users are active on the platform, you increase the likelihood of your videos reaching a larger audience. Understanding your audience’s app usage patterns will help you strategically plan your content to be published at the best times so you can maximize your reach.
  • Trending content: TikTok loves fresh and trending content. Stay updated with the latest trends and incorporate them into your videos to increase your chances of being recommended to a wider audience.
  • User preferences: The TikTok algorithm learns from your personal preferences and tailors your “For You” feed accordingly. Consistently engage with the types of content you enjoy, as this will help the algorithm understand your preferences better.
  • Device and account settings: Settings such as your language preference, country setting, and device type are also factors in the Tiktok algorithm, however they receive lower weight in the recommendation system relative to other data points.

From the TikTok newsroom:

“All these factors are processed by our recommendation system and weighted based on their value to a user. A strong indicator of interest, such as whether a user finishes watching a longer video from beginning to end, would receive greater weight than a weak indicator, such as whether the video’s viewer and creator are both in the same country. Videos are then ranked to determine the likelihood of a user’s interest in a piece of content, and delivered to each unique For You feed.”

TikTok has also openly stated that follower count or previous high-performing videos are NOT direct factors in the FYF recommendation.

It’s also important to note that some categories of content are simply excluded from being recommended for FYF, such as suggestive content, dangerous activities or challenges, and shocking or graphic content. The entire list of what is ineligible for recommendation can be found in the TikTok Community Guidelines.

How to Increase Your Chances of Going Viral on TikTok

Quick overview

  1. Create authentic and relatable content.
  2. Experiment with different video formats.
  3. Utilize trending sounds and effects.
  4. Engage with your audience.
  5. Be consistent.
  6. Monitor and analyze your TikTok analytics.

Now that you have a solid understanding of the TikTok algorithm, let’s discuss what to keep in mind to increase your chances of going viral.

1. Create authentic and relatable content

Authenticity is key on TikTok. Users are drawn to content that feels genuine and relatable. By creating videos that resonate with your target audience, you increase the chances of them engaging with and sharing your content, potentially leading to increased visibility and virality.

2. Experiment with different video formats

Variety is the spice of life, and the same applies to TikTok content. Experimenting with different video formats, such as tutorials, challenges, and storytelling, keeps your content fresh and engaging. It allows you to cater to different preferences and capture the attention of a wider audience.

TikTok is known for its vast library of sounds and effects that users can incorporate into their videos. By using trending sounds and effects, you can enhance the entertainment value of your videos and make them more engaging. These elements add an extra layer of creativity and fun to your content, potentially increasing its shareability.

4. Engage with your audience

Engagement is a two-way street on TikTok. By actively responding to comments and messages from your audience, you build a connection and foster a sense of community. This engagement can lead to loyal followers who are more likely to engage with and share your content, increasing its virality. It’s called social media for a reason, right?

Dig deeper: How Agencies Can Manage Their Clients’ TikToks

5. Be consistent

You are probably sick of hearing this but it’s important so I am going to say it anyways: As with any social media platform, consistency is key. By establishing a content creation and posting schedule, you maintain momentum and keep your audience engaged. Regularly uploading fresh content increases your chances of being discovered by new users and helps you build a loyal following.

6. Monitor and analyze your TikTok analytics

TikTok provides creators with analytics that offer valuable insights into their audience’s behavior and preferences. By monitoring and analyzing these analytics, you can gain a deeper understanding of what works best for your audience. Adjusting your content strategy based on these findings from your TikTok analytics allows you to optimize your chances of creating viral content that resonates with your viewers.

Pro tip: If you want to get even better insights on your TikTok strategy, check out Agorapulse. You can get the scoop on your TikTok audience, content, and community engagement, all in the same place with our Power Reports feature.

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Expert Tips for Mastering the TikTok Algorithm

Find your niche

One effective way to gain traction on TikTok is by tapping into various subcultures within the platform. Identify subcultures that align with your interests or expertise, and create content that resonates with those communities. By doing so, you’ll be able to build a loyal follower base within a specific niche.

For example, if you’re a fitness enthusiast, consider creating content that caters to the fitness community and shares valuable tips, workout routines, or motivational messages. By providing value to a specific audience, you increase the likelihood of gaining followers and engagement.

Engaging with the TikTok community within your niche can help you establish connections and collaborate with other creators, further expanding your reach and visibility.

Captivate your audience

With attention spans decreasing, it’s crucial to capture your viewers’ attention within the first few seconds of your video. Hook them with an intriguing opening or an attention-grabbing visual that keeps them engaged and interested.

Consider using bold text overlays, surprising visuals, or storytelling techniques to instantly captivate your audience. Remember, the faster you can grab the attention of your viewers, the more likely they are to watch your video till the end and engage with it.

Additionally, experimenting with different video formats, such as tutorials, challenges, or behind-the-scenes content, can help you stand out and keep your audience engaged.

If you use Agorapulse for your social media management, you have different ways to see what’s working well in your TikTok strategy and what needs adjustment. For example, you can check how many of your TikTok followers are active at what time:

tiktok engagement heat map

In addition to appearing on users’ “For You” feed, TikTok videos can also be discovered through search. Optimizing your content for search can significantly increase your chances of being found organically by users with specific interests.

When uploading your videos, make sure to include relevant keywords in your captions, video descriptions, and hashtags. Think about what users would search for when looking for content similar to yours, and incorporate those keywords strategically.

While TikTok embraces raw and authentic content, it’s essential to ensure that your videos are of high quality. Poor lighting, shaky footage, or inaudible audio can easily turn viewers away.

Invest in a good smartphone tripod or stabilizer to minimize shakiness, experiment with different lighting setups to find the best visual quality, and make sure your audio is clear and audible.

Consider using video editing tools or apps to add special effects or captions to enhance your videos. The key is to strike a balance between authenticity and quality. Your content should feel genuine and relatable while maintaining a level of professionalism that keeps viewers engaged.

Hashtags play a crucial role in increasing your content’s discoverability and visibility on TikTok. Keep an eye on trending hashtags that are relevant to your content and incorporate them into your videos’ captions or comments.

At the same time, avoid using irrelevant or overused hashtags, as this may negatively impact your visibility. Strike a balance by using a mix of popular and niche hashtags to increase your chances of reaching the right audience.

Hashtags can help categorize your content and make it easier for users to find. However, the quality and relevance of your content should always take precedence over the number of hashtags used.

What We Learned About the TikTok Algorithm

With these expert tips and a thorough understanding of TikTok and its algorithm, you’re well-equipped to maximize your chances of going viral. However, it’s important to note that success on TikTok requires consistency, quality content, and audience engagement. So, keep experimenting, stay true to your unique style, and most importantly, have fun creating content on TikTok.

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