What Is the TikTok Algorithm?
The TikTok algorithm is a complex system designed to serve users content on the app’s homepage — the For You page (FYP).
Much like Instagram’s Explore page, the FYP is an endless feed of curated content that TikTok’s algorithm thinks you’ll be interested in.
I randomly made it to gymnastics TikTok. I'm not complaining. I'm just surprised. And a little confused. And also, once again, freaked out by the app's algorithm.— Ashley Rosario Wijangco (@wijangco12) January 22, 2022
According to TikTok: “The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors — starting from interests you express as a new user, and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in.”
The algorithm considers videos you’ve interacted with in the past, accounts and hashtags you follow, your location and language preferences, and even the type of content you create.
So instead of being populated entirely with videos from the people you follow, your FYP is filled with videos TikTok’s algorithm thinks you’ll enjoy — mostly from creators you don’t already know.
Translation: no two FYPs are the same!
How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work in 2022?
There are multiple factors that influence how TikTok's algorithm serves content to users.
The main contributors being: user activity, video subject matter, location and language, audio, and “Not Interested” feedback. So, let's break them down.
1. User Activity
The more engagement and views a TikTok video receives, the more likely it will be served to larger audiences. Positive indicators include:
Completions and re-watches
2. Subject Matter (Video Information)
TikTok is great at categorizing content based on user interests, so subject matter is an important factor when it comes to reach potential on the app.
TikTok determines subject matter from:
Content (i.e video transcripts)
3. Location and Language
The algorithm recognizes a user's device settings (including location and language) when deciding who may be interested in a video. These include:
Type of mobile device
When a video includes a trending sound or song, the algorithm will use this to categorize your content and serve it to relevant audiences.
Tapping into trending audio is a great way to reach new audiences, as the algorithm will serve your video to people who have already engaged with the trend.
PSA: If you need help finding the latest TikTok trends, bookmark this weekly TikTok trends resource!
5. "Not Interested" Feedback
TikTok's algorithm is always trying to serve high-interest videos to every user, and it uses previous activity to determine this:
Videos you've marked as "Not Interested"
Users you've hidden
Videos you skip through
Each of these factors is individually weighed by TikTok’s recommendation system (with some indicators being more important than others), which means each For You page is completely unique.
Factors That Do Not Influence the TikTok Algorithm
There are a few factors that do not influence how the TikTok algorithm ranks your content. These include:
Whether you've had previous high-performing videos
This means that even if you only have a handful of followers, or have never posted to TikTok before, there’s still an opportunity for your video to go viral. Hooray!
Types of Content the Algorithm Won't Recommend
Much like in baseball, there are a set of rules and regulations you must follow in order to play ball (and win big) with TikTok's algorithm.
To help foster the TikTok experience, the algorithm is designed to take “user safety as a primary consideration.”
According to the platform, "Provided that it does not violate local laws, the following types of content may be allowed on our platform, searchable, and viewed in Following feeds but not eligible for recommendation."
Such content includes:
Dangerous sports and stunts
Overtly sexualized content
Tobacco and alcohol products
Violent and graphic content
Spam, inauthentic, or misleading content
Unoriginal, low-quality, and QR code content
So, in order to avoid the algorithm flagging your content, it's best practice to steer clear of all the above and follow the app's community guidelines.
How to Hack the TikTok Algorithm For More Views in 2022
The TikTok algorithm is always adapting, changing, and learning from user behavior.
Based on everything we know about how the algorithm works, here are 10 ways to boost your performance and beat the algorithm for growth:
Hook Your Audience Within Three Seconds
Focus on a Niche
Use Trending TikTok Audio
Experiment with New TikTok Features
Use Relevant Hashtags
Engage with Similar Content Creators
Create Accessible Content
Find the Best Time to Post
Make Shorter Videos
Don't Delete Old Content
TikTok Algorithm Hack #1: Hook Your Audience Within Three Seconds
Since watching a video in full is a strong interest indicator, TikTok typically favors videos that are easy-to-digest, have a seamless loop, and cater to users who have a short attention span.
Because of this, it’s vital to hook your audience within the first three seconds.
With over 1B monthly active users on the app, people want to be entertained immediately or else they’re onto the next.
When videos have an intriguing hook, viewers will most likely watch till the end or even on repeat.
This type of user engagement signals to the algorithm that people are enjoying the content and as a result, it should be shared to more users.
TikTok Algorithm Hack #2: Focus on a Niche
The more consistently you share videos related to your niche, the more the TikTok algorithm will recognize your expertise and begin to serve your content to the right audience.
Think about the content themes that resonate with your target audience best. Is it beauty tutorials, dating advice, comedy sketches, or OOTDs?
Once you've nailed down your niche, consistently add keywords to your captions and video content. Give the algorithm everything it needs to categorize your content.
TikTok Algorithm Hack #3: Use Trending TikTok Audio
It goes without saying that trending audio and TikTok get on like a house on fire.
Since the TikTok algorithm tends to favor videos using trending sounds, consider jumping on trends while they’re still hot.
How to Find Trending Audio on TikTok:
Scroll through TikTok to see if there are any repeated songs or audio clips. If you think a clip is trending, tap on the audio to see how many users have created videos with the sound.
Check the "TikTok Viral" tab via the video editor. Select "Sounds" to browse the latest trending audio tracks.
TikTok Algorithm Hack #4: Experiment With New TikTok Features
TikTok is all about testing the waters and trying out new ideas.
Being a “beta” user for up-and-coming tools can play a role in getting more engagement on your content. Especially as TikTok highlights what tools and features you’ve used to edit your video when you post.
Keep an eye out for new feature releases, you may want to try them out to gain more visibility!
TikTok Algorithm Hack #5: Use Relevant Hashtags
Similar to Instagram, hashtags on TikTok help categorize content and make it easier for users to search for content.
But it's important to use relevant hashtags. Think of them as keywords — they'll signal to the TikTok algorithm what your content is about.
For example, if you’re an Instagram marketing consultant, you may use hashtags like #instagramtips, #smmtips, or #socialmediamarketing.
Including those hashtags essentially tells the algorithm, “Hey, TikTok, look over here! Our account shares tips and tricks for social media managers. Please show our videos to those users.”
And if you're jumping on a trend, be sure to use the appropriate trending hashtag in your caption too.
TikTok Algorithm Hack #6: Engage With Content Creators in Your Niche
Social media is meant to be social — so it's important not to post and ghost!
Replying to comments and starting conversations with similar creators in your niche is a great way to boost your engagement, which is a key indicator for the TikTok algorithm.
TikTok Algorithm Hack #7: Create Accessible Content
Creating accessible content is another valuable algorithm hack, and will also make your content more inclusive.
The easiest way to do this is by adding on-screen text and captions.
The more accessible your video, the more people can view and engage with your content.
TikTok Algorithm Hack #8: Find the Best Time to Post
While the TikTok algorithm ranks content based on a combination of factors, posting at your most optimal time is still valuable.
Why? If you post when most of your community is online, you’ll reach more people right away.
However, there's no universal best time to post on TikTok — it'll range depending on your audience’s location and scrolling habits.
So figuring out when your audience is most active is key.
To find out how to do that, read this: The Best Time to Post on TikTok in 2022
TikTok Algorithm Hack #9: Make Shorter Videos
TikTok has been gradually upping video limits over the last few years. First 15 seconds. Then one minute. Then three minutes. And now it's extended its video length to 10 minutes.
While this does create more opportunities for storytelling or to be creative, there's no doubt that 10 minutes is incredibly long — especially on a platform where short is key.
The TikTok algorithm rewards content that is watched all the way through, so aiming for snappy 15-30 seconds is a good place to start.
However, if you want to experiment with long-form videos, give them a try and see how your audience responds.
TikTok Algorithm Hack #10: Don't Delete Old Content
TikTok videos can go viral days, even weeks, after they've been posted.
So, there's a good chance that with a consistent posting cadence, one of your videos will land a spot on the For You Page.
And if one of your old videos does gain momentum, you'll have tons of similar content that users can scroll through and engage with.
At the end of the day, there’s no surefire way to “beat” the TikTok algorithm.
However, understanding how the TikTok algorithm works and following the tips we’ve shared can help you fine-tune your strategy and improve your chances of being seen.
Being consistent and building a strong presence is the most powerful way to “hack” the algorithm — and it'll work wonders for your brand too.