How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work in 2023?
Part social media, part digital video entertainment platform, TikTok aims to consistently connect users to the content they want to see. Though it hasn’t been around long, many marketing teams are pivoting to include TikTok marketing alongside other social media platforms in their video marketing strategy.
But how did the platform rise to this scale of popularity so quickly?
In short: its algorithm.
TikTok’s main feed consists mainly of short videos, each playing in a seemingly endless parade of content. Once you spend some time on the platform, these videos are selected for you based on your interests and activity.
Here, we’ll explore the TikTok algorithm, how it works, and how you can effectively utilize it to connect with your audience.
What is the TikTok Algorithm?
The TikTok algorithm runs via a proprietary formula, which takes your previous likes, viewing preferences, and more, into account to serve you similar content.
For example, if you have searched for, watched, or engaged with a lot of cooking content, TikTok will show you more food-related content on the For You feed. As you become more engaged with certain pieces of content, the algorithm will cook up more specific recommendations based on your preferences. For example, if you engage more with vegan recipes, you’ll see more pop up throughout your feed.
- Related: How Do Social Media Algorithms Work?
How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work?
TikTok uses signals, which are inputs and data that add up to a big picture of your interests. These signals are made up of several components, including the videos you like, the accounts you interact with most (by leaving comments or sharing), and videos you skip over.
What is the For You Feed?
In TikTok’s own words, “connection and discovery [are] central to the TikTok experience,” so the For You feed continues providing users with relevant content that will entice them to stick around. TikTok continues by saying, “This feed is powered by a recommendation system that delivers content to each user that is likely to be of interest to that particular user.”
Since it’s tailored by interests, every user’s feed will look different. If you love plants, floral arrangements, and similar content, the For You feed will deliver those topics.
TikTok Algorithm Ranking Signals
TikTok’s signals are ranked to help the algorithm determine what content to show you. Your feed is constantly refined based on your actions, giving users the uncanny sense that TikTok is reading their minds.
The platform aims to retain users and increase their time on the site. Thanks to the brands, users, and creators, TikTok has massive amounts of content that can be shown to viewers at any given time.
Related: When Is the Best Time To Post on TikTok?
Your interactions directly shape your For You Page (also known as a FYP). If you like a video, comment on it, watch the entire video, or share it with someone else, the algorithm assumes that you’ve enjoyed that video and will show you similar content in the future.
On the other side of the same coin, you can tell TikTok what you don’t want to see. You can click “not interested” on any video, which sends a clear signal to avoid showing you similar videos.
Video information simply provides the platform and other users with information about your content.
For example, if you’re posting a video about a morning routine, you might want to include “morning routine” in the caption or include #morningroutine. Additionally, you’ll want to get specific. Is this for someone in college or for someone headed out to work? By adding these details, you’ll be able to reach the people who are interested in your content.
Video information is critical on TikTok, as many users are using TikTok as a search engine. Keywords, hashtags, and other video information can help your content show up in the right search results.
Device and Account Settings
The country you live in, the language you speak, and the device you’re using will also play a role in TikTok’s profile of you, but not to the same degree as the previous two categories.
Being in the same country as a piece of content’s creator, for example, is only considered by TikTok to be a “weak indicator” that you’ll have interest in the video.
What the Algorithm Won’t Show
Since the algorithm aims to keep you watching, it will also filter out certain kinds of content it knows you don’t want to see. This includes:
TikTok won’t show you duplicate content, as its aim is to keep things similar but just fresh enough that you feel stimulated. Instead, the platform will show you related content. For example, if you’ve shown an interest in vegan food, it might begin showing you a mix of recipes, restaurant recommendations, and other relevant content.
Content You’ve Already Seen
To keep you hooked, TikTok doesn’t want to risk boring you with the same things you’ve already seen. So, that’s why the platform provides you with an endless stream of similar content that still provides a new perspective or engages with you in a unique way.
Similarly, TikTok’s algorithm filters out content it finds to be low-quality or, for lack of a better term, spammy.
Upsetting or Problematic Content
TikTok, like all social media platforms, filters out dangerous and offensive content, including:
- Nudity, pornography, or sexually explicit content
- Dangerous acts and challenges
- Violence and violent extremism
Content You’ve Marked as “Not Interested”
Once you hit the “not interested” button on a video, TikTok will remove the video from your feed and use this signal to improve its future recommendations for you.
10 Tips To Rank Your TikTok Videos and Get More Views
TikTok makes sharing very easy. Its bite-sized videos, many of which are well under 10 seconds, are really made for consuming and (ideally) sharing with your friends. Going viral on TikTok is extremely worthwhile, given that the platform has over a billion users a month worldwide.
Tip #1: Be Funny
Funny content is an incredible tool on TikTok. With humor, you encourage people to watch your video production in full and share it with their friends.
If you can find a humorous angle for your brand and make it feel less like an ad and more like entertainment, you’re on the right track.
Tip #2: Be Concise
While there are exceptions—like the recent 10-minute Hilton Hotels ad—brevity is generally the name of the game on TikTok. While you’ll want to test different video lengths to find what works best for your audience, you’ll want to keep all of your content concise.
Tip #3: Engage with Existing Trends and Challenges
TikTok is filled with various types of videos featuring dances and other fun challenges. Find a way to utilize what’s already sweeping TikTok and make it work for your brand. Like we always say, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Tip #4: Take Users Behind the Scenes
Today, people want to get to know more about you and your business. Take them behind the scenes to show a unique perspective.
Whether this is an employee creating content for a day-in-the-life video or a quick video of your production process, this can showcase a new side of your business that people might want to be more familiar with.
Tip #5: Showcase Your Success Story
Inspiration is another effective way to connect with your audience and gain their attention. Whether it’s a heartwarming story about your brand’s conception or an inspirational post for making it through the tough days, success stories can promote engagement and shares for your brand.
Tip #6: Start Your Own TikTok Challenge
While joining in on an already popular challenge is a great way to connect with your audience, you can also create your own!
Create a challenge that’s relevant to your brand, would excite your audience, and can drive engagement. For example, if you’re on the marketing team for an apparel company, inspire a challenge that encourages users to wear their branded gear in the video.
Tip #7: Engage with Other Users
Engagement is critical to the success of your presence on TikTok. Boost your engagement with other users by liking, commenting, and sharing their content.
The more you engage with other relevant accounts, the more traction you’ll be able to create with your content.
Tip #8: Include Relevant Hashtags and Trending Audio
Relevant hashtags and trending audio are critical elements of TikTok. While they’re optional on some platforms, that’s not the case here.
Utilize trending audio to capture the attention of viewers with a familiar or engaging sound. Plus, trending sounds are often promoted within the algorithm, so utilize these sounds to help your content stand out.
Additionally, hashtags are vital on TikTok. They help tell the platform what your content is about and who would enjoy it the most. Utilize general, branded, and new hashtags to help your content reach the right audience.
Tip #9: Consistently Share Fresh Creative
Content fatigue is real—and it can quickly drive your audience away. To avoid this challenge, it’s essential for your brand to produce and share fresh content continuously.
Tip #10: Keep Your Old Content Live
This isn’t 2018 on Instagram. In other words, we’re not really going for perfectly curated feeds on TikTok.
Even if your content doesn’t perform exactly how you wanted it to, it’s a good idea to keep that content live. Since TikTok’s algorithm isn’t linear, your old content might pop up in a new fan’s For You Page once they find your profile.
Make TikTok Videos at Scale
Working with the TikTok algorithm requires skill, creativity, and volume. With over 1 billion active users, the platform is filled with content and users who are eager to consume it.
But, one or two videos won’t be enough to stand out. Rather, you need a consistent stream of fresh, high-quality video content to keep users engaged with your TikTok presence.
Creating a lot of content requires time, a production team, and other resources many in-house teams just can’t access—until now.
Here at QuickFrame by MNTN, we believe teams and brands of all sizes should be able to reach their audience through effective video marketing content. As one of the first official TikTok marketing partners, we’re familiar with the platform, trends, and content types to help you make a significant impact.
With the right partner, you can make and share platform-focused creative that helps you stand out and connect with your target audience. Ready to get started? Contact us today to learn more about TikTok video production.
TikTok Algorithm: Final Thoughts
You might hear some people suggesting you need ways to beat the algorithm on social media platforms, but that’s not exactly what you want to do.
Instead, it’s most effective to work with the algorithm; find what your consumers are looking for and lean into it through your content.
With fresh, data-driven creative and the use of native features—like trending hashtags and audio—you can make the TikTok algorithm an effective tool in your video marketing strategy.
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