How TikTok Algorithm Works: Score a Chance at The FYP Page
TikTok is among the fastest-growing social media sites in 2022. In fact, Statista predicts there will be over 100 million TikTok users by 2024. While the app has traditionally been popular with the 18-34 age group, it’s now gaining traction with older users, too.
With new users coming to the platform all the time, one question we often hear is “How do I get noticed by the TikTok algorithm?” There’s no simple answer to this. However, if your aim is to have your social media content appear on TikTok’s “For You” Page (FYP), you first need to understand what the algorithm does.
What is the TikTok algorithm?
Put simply, TikTok’s algorithm is a recommendation system. It’s what determines the content you see on your “For You” feed when you open up the app. There are many factors that determine what gets shown to an individual user, meaning no two feeds are ever identical.
A TikTok user’s feed will change over time based on their habits and preferences. The algorithm accounts for the content you like and share on the app as well as who you follow and interact with. The attributes of the video are also considered, as well as the user's device settings.
How does the TikTok algorithm recommend content?
According to TikTok, there are three main categories that the algorithm looks at when recommending videos. Each of these three areas has several different criteria that can affect content ranking.
As someone who scrolls through the app, your user behavior refers to the videos you watch, like, and share. The algorithm also tracks comments, interactions, accounts you follow, and videos you’ve created. Video watch length is an important part of this category too.
That said, not all criteria are treated equally. For example, watching a video from start to end carries more weight than something you didn’t finish. Posts from followed accounts you interact with will show up more frequently than those you often scroll past, too.
Video attributes are the factors that relate to the content itself. As a creator, this is where you have the most control over boosting your content in the algorithm. The hashtags you use are very important here, as a user will see more videos with hashtags matching those they’ve already watched.
Hashtags should correlate to the content, too. Let’s say you’re posting a design for a sponsorship proposal template. Hashtags such as #sponsorshiptemplate and #templatedesigns could be relevant.
Accessibility options like captions will be considered, as will the audio you use in your content. The length of your videos is another important factor. Short-form content is the most popular, though you might have to do some testing to find the ideal length for your audience.
The last factor here is your use of TikTok features such as stickers. When the platform is promoting a new feature, content that uses the feature will get higher priority. This will change over time, so keep up to date with changes and experiment with new tools.
Account preferences & device settings
According to TikTok, device features are the least important ranking criteria. That said, they are still considered. This includes the language settings, the device capabilities, and location information.
What stops content from being recommended on TikTok?
User-defined interests and preferences aren’t just used to recommend content. They’re also used to suppress content that TikTok thinks the user won’t be interested in.
On top of that, there’s a responsibility for user safety on the platform, which means that spam or harmful content is kept off of FYP feeds.
Here are the main reasons that content won’t appear on For You Pages.
“Not interested” choices
There are videos you don’t watch, there are videos you start but don’t finish, and then there are videos you’re just not interested in. All of these things are considered by the algorithm but the content you flag as “not interested” carries the most weight.
Reported content & spam
Content that gets reported or breaks the TikTok community guidelines will not appear in FYP feeds. That could include malicious content, adult content, or spam ads. Make sure you understand the rules for posting on TikTok to avoid your videos getting flagged.
Part of the aim of the TikTok algorithm is to provide users with varied content. That means that as well as videos from creators you already like, you’ll see recommendations that the system thinks you’ll like. It also means you won’t see two similar videos in a row.
Reposts and duplicate videos are a bad idea for this reason. If a user has already seen a video once, it won’t appear on their For You feed again.
Is follower count important for TikTok’s algorithm?
Follower count isn’t as important to TikTok’s algorithm as to some other social media sites. Having followers does mean that your videos will be shown to them, but it doesn’t mean that videos will be more widely recommended.
Free to use image sourced from Pexels
How do I go viral on TikTok in 2022?
Now you know what the algorithm looks for when it’s ranking and recommending content. So, the question is, how do you use that to get your content seen by more eyes? These are the best ways to make sure your videos get noticed.
The three-second rule
According to Nielsen data, capturing a user’s interest in the first three seconds of a video is vital. When studying the impact of video watch length on brand recognition, users who watched 3-10 seconds of the video accounted for 74% of the total.
That’s backed up by information from Wired, which suggests that the best-performing videos on TikTok are between 21-34 seconds. Using on-screen text or voiceovers can also help with immediately hooking the user, and give them a reason to watch to the end.
Sounds and music can trend on TikTok in the same way as a hashtag. When a user likes a video with a song or sound, they’ll be recommended other videos using that same audio. Checking the trends takes a couple more steps than looking for popular hashtags, though.
You’ll need to open up your video editor and navigate to the “sounds” tab. From there, you can scroll through a list of available sounds and see which ones are currently trending. Using trending audio in your videos can see them pushed to more FYP feeds.
Checking what hashtags are trending couldn’t be easier. You can see trending hashtags right from your Discover page in the TikTok app. Using popular hashtags is a good way to get seen, but they do need to be relevant to your video content.
Hashtag challenges are a popular way for brands to generate user-created content. This can quickly lead to hashtags going viral as users jump on the trend and create their own videos. You can include suggestions for hashtag challenges in your affiliate marketing template, too.
The Italian company PhotoSi found success with its #ReviveconPhotoSi campaign. They challenged users to share photos from their childhood, generating 380,000 videos and over a billion views. This is just one example of an effective user-generated content campaign.
Keeping a regular schedule of posts can help keep your engagement high. That means paying attention to two things:
The number of posts you make per day
The times that you post them
TikTok recommends posting 1-4 times a day. This gives you an opportunity to try different kinds of content and see what works best for you. Use information from your “Followers” tab to find out when your audience is most active. Try posting your videos during those times for maximum TikTok engagement.
Free to use image sourced from Unsplash
Networking & engagement
TikTok is a social platform. That means to get the most out of it, you need to use its social features. Like and comment on other creators’ posts, especially when it comes to content that’s related to yours.
That way, you’ll increase your visibility within your niche and likely meet some like-minded creators at the same time. The more you engage with other content, the more other creators will engage with yours.
Make your posts accessible so that as many people as possible can enjoy them. Consider options like closed captions or text-to-speech to make sure your content doesn’t miss a key part of its audience.
The caption displayed below your video when it appears in a feed serves two main purposes:
Draw your audience’s attention to the video
Tell the algorithm about your content, helping it understand what kind of users will enjoy it
You do this by creating an interesting sentence out of your targeted keywords. This will effectively drive more users into your social media funnel.
TikTok is often implementing new features and tools for creators. Some suggest that making use of these editing tools can lead to your content being promoted by the algorithm. We’ve seen this with additions like effects, filters, and stickers.
Whether the algorithm is actively promoting the use of these tools or not, it’s certain that filters and effects can trend just like a sound or a hashtag can. These tools can also help you get more creative with your content, which will help the quality of your videos in the long run.
Master the “For You” feed
The key to appearing in more “For You” feeds is creating engaging content. The steps above are a best practice guide that will help you make the most of that content.
So, use hashtags, write exciting captions, and make use of filters and effects. But, most of all, make sure you’re creating content that users want to see.
Yauhen Zaremba - Director of Demand Generation
Yauhen is the Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc, all-in-one document management tool for almost all types of document including this postnuptial agreement template. He’s been a marketer for 10+ years, and for the last five years, he’s been entirely focused on the electronic signature, proposal, and document management markets. Yauhen has experience speaking at niche conferences where he enjoys sharing his expertise with other curious marketers. And in his spare time, he is an avid fisherman and takes nearly 20 fishing trips every year.