Unlocking the TikTok Algorithm

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According to TikTok, the majority of its users spend their time on the For You Page (also known as the FYP). The For You feed is curated for each user, depending on the algorithm TikTok has in place. The goal of this algorithm is to serve up curated content for each user that will enable them to spend the maximum amount of time on the app per session. In other words, every user’s For You Page is tailored to their unique interests.

When developing a marketing strategy for TikTok, we recommend that midsize business leaders fully understand the criteria of the For You Page algorithm and the nuances within the app itself.

CTA: If your midsize business is searching for a partner to debut or refine your social media marketing strategy, schedule a free 1-on-1 consultation with Fratzke today.

How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work?

Algorithms are used across social platforms and e-commerce sites to personalize an online users’ digital experiences. In general, algorithms, also known as recommendation systems, curate content based on user preferences established via user engagement.

TikTok’s For You Page first distributes content based on preferences established by each user during account creation. Specifically, TikTok requests interests and disinterests from users directly when setting up their account. From there, the algorithm uses the factors detailed below to further curate the user experience.

User Interactions

Any interaction (or lack thereof) conducted by a user is tracked by TikTok’s algorithm. This of course includes traditional engagement such as likes, comments, and shares, but is also dependent on video watch times. Did a user quickly skip a video or did they watch it multiple times?

Additionally, content created by users is fed into their unique interests and therefore the recommendations made by the TikTok algorithm. Say a user adds a video discussing their recent cross-stitching project. Even if that user hasn’t interacted with cross-stitching content previously, the algorithm will begin serving up cross-stitching content to them.

In fact, these factors hold more bearing on the app than an account’s following or if that account had previously high-performing videos. A user is more likely to see a niche video that features their interests that has a few hundred or thousand views over a more popular video with millions of views outside their interests.

Video Information

Whether videos a user watches or videos a user creates, the details of that video are included in the criteria managed by the algorithm. Keywords included in captions, frequently heard or used sounds, and common hashtags all factor into the next videos the algorithm serves up.

Take for instance a recently trending “Good Soup” sound featuring Adam Driver. With 24,000 videos and growing, this TikTok sound simply features Adam Driver, playing Adam Sackler in a 2017 episode of HBO’s Girls, tasting soup at a diner and stating, “Good soup.” From videos of people crying and a tear slipping into their mouths to pet owners mixing water into their fur baby’s food, if a user liked one “Good Soup” video, they’re likely to be served up another (and another, and another.)  

Device & Account Settings

While a less top-of-mind factor, the TikTok algorithm is impacted by both a user’s device and account settings. Selections like language preference and current country are all considered to optimize the app’s overall performance.

That said, less algorithmic weight is distributed to these particular constraints given other, more meaningful data points.

How To Get on the For You Page on TikTok

Going viral on TikTok requires first getting featured on the For You Page. In order to get on the FYP, Fratzke recommends incorporating trending hashtags, posting at optimal times, and creating short-form videos (30 seconds or less).

How to Increase Views on TikTok

To ensure your content is featured on the For You Page and garners enough views to meet your social media key performance indicators (KPIs), follow the tips and tricks detailed below. With these tips and a bit of relentless consistency, your TikTok account will accrue the views and followers you’re looking for.

Incorporate Trending Sounds

Like any other social platform, TikTok is certainly susceptible to trends and memes. Whether it’s a verbal meme like “Good Soup,” or a hit song like “Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigo, incorporating viral sounds into your content mix will help boost your views. Even if you incorporate the sound at an extremely quiet (or even silent) volume, the algorithm likely won’t be able to tell the difference.

The trick with trends is acting fast. Trends won’t stay viral for long, so if a trend registers with your brand’s audience, hop on the bandwagon fast.

Collaborate with TikTok Creators

Scoping out the digital competition is a key part to any successful marketing strategy. We recommend analyzing competitors that see high engagement rates from their followers. See where your competitors are excelling and where your competitors can improve. Once you understand their formula, create unique guidelines that will target your audience niche.

After you post a bit of content, reach out to the creators within your industry to see if they want to connect. If you partner with any brands on other social platforms, show off your TikToks to see if they would be interested in collaborating on short-form video content too.

Promote TikTok on Other Social Platforms

Cross-promotion (especially on Instagram Reels) is incorporated into the majority of TikTok Creators’ marketing strategies. If you’ve already amassed a following on other social platforms, make sure your following is aware of your TikTok. You can even advertise TikTok-exclusive offers and discounts!

How to Increase Engagement on TikTok

User engagement is clearly an imperative factor in unlocking the TikTok algorithm and being featured on the For You Page. To secure likes, comments, and shares on your TikTok videos, we recommend abiding by the below best practices.  

Engage with Industry Creators & Followers

The best way to foster community is to engage within the community itself. Curate your own account’s For You Page by carefully selecting your preferences when first setting up your account. Get the ball rolling further by liking, commenting, sharing, and replaying videos that are geared toward your brand’s industry and audience.

Over time, your FYP feed will promote content based on your previous engagements. You can also follow creators within your niche or interact with popular industry hashtags, sounds, effects, and topics within the Discover tab.

If your For You Page serves up a video that isn’t relevant to your brand or industry, you can tell the algorithm about your disinterest. Simply select the Share button or long-press on the video and select “Not Interested.”

Once you know the main players within your niche, build relationships with them. Like, comment, or direct message (DM) like-minded creators and followers to build a network for your brand.

Post Educational Content

While seemingly obvious, the more interesting content you create, the more likely you are to entice engagement. How-to videos perform exceptionally well on the app, likely due to users replaying the TikTok over and over again.

The more niche you can go, the better. The TikTok algorithm is all about serving up the most niche content possible to its users. How else would you build a truly personalized user experience?

Accessibility Recommendations

Even though TikTok is heavily influenced by trending sounds, there is a large deaf community on the platform. Outside of TikTok, nearly 10,000,000 persons are hard of hearing and close to 1,000,000 are functionally deaf according to PubMed.

Fratzke recommends writing your own captions or taking advantage of TikTok’s auto caption feature to reach every potential user within your audience.

Looking for a digital marketing partner to elevate your midsize business strategy? Schedule your free consultation with one of our experts today!

Alex Dersch

Jr. Manager, Content & SEO

9.7.2021

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