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How does the TikTok algorithm work?

Simon Lebrun
February 14, 2022
Last modified on
May 17, 2023
The TikTok algorithm is a recommendation system that determines which videos will appear on the #ForYou page.

A large part of TikTok's success comes from its algorithm. Ultra precise, it circulates videos according to users' interests. It is a very precise analysis of the tastes of each user that allows to increase the visibility of the contents. But how to effectively share videos on the application?

The TikTok algorithm is evolving and growing by the day and mastering it gives you a chance to perform on TikTok. Whether you're a content creator or a user, you'll find in this article everything you need to know about the secrets of how the TikTok algorithm will work in 2022.

Understanding how the TikTok algorithm works

When you start on TikTok, you should know that the algorithm is at the heart of the platform. The goal of the application is simple: that you stay there without getting tired of swiping. The social network has therefore set up a well-tried operation to know you perfectly and make you addicted!

The importance of the For You page in the TikTok algorithm

The TikTok algorithm is a recommendation system thatdetermines which videos will appear on the #ForYou page, the place where content gets the buzz.

Sure, you can follow the content of your favorite accounts on the subscription page. But when you open the app, you'll immediately see an endless string of totally personalized videos in your For You feed.

The application starts by offering the account a selection of very popular videos verified by the application's moderators.

Based on users' preferences, theTikTok algorithm progressively offers personalized content to the front page. Any type of content can therefore have the chance to be shared with a large audience, provided it appeals to a specific community or niche!

As you can see, the platform seeks to capture your attention and targets exactly what you like to watch (or even rewatch over and over again).

On TikTok, the #ForYou page is therefore not the same for everyone. The videos that users watch can change over time depending on their viewing preferences and even their current state of mind. This infinite stream is fed by a recommendation system that provides each user with content that might interest them.

But part of the magic of TikTok is that those same users can stumble upon some of the same viral videos on its news feed.

But according to what criteria? TikTok has chosen to reveal some of them.

"A stream of videos tailored to your interests, making it easy to find content and creators you like... Powered by a recommendation system that provides each user with content that may be of interest to that particular user."

Every action taken on TikTok is taken into account to personalize the content you will be exposed to. With each scroll or interaction, users are unknowingly doing machine learning. They help the algorithm to become more "intelligent" and to know them better.

The platform allows to generate trends and highlights the contents that correspond to them. There is therefore a card to play for creators.

It should be noted that thesocial networkalways prioritizes the relevance of videos, and therefore takes little account of the number of subscribers of the creator. Even without any subscribers, you can quickly break through if you are regular in your posts. 

You can appear on the Trend page as this is where the most popular creations are published and TikTok sometimes issues a few challenges that might interest you.

The algorithm has also developed around its search functionality, used to find videos around a specific topic. With this new SEO (Search Engine Optimization) capability on TikTok, users can search for content with high added value and socially validated by the platform's community.

The criteria of the TikTok algorithm

How do you know what consumers are interested in from these short videos? The platform has developed a system to sort through the free-to-air creations.

Step 1: Compliance with EU rules

Once your video is posted on the app, TikTok's AI uses NLP (automatic language processing) to analyze its video content. It will analyze every part of your video, including audio, captions, and metadata(hashtags) to better understand the videos content and context.

The application may be able to tell whether this content will appeal to people and to whom it is addressed.

Following this analysis, the algorithm checks your content on its community and security rules

👉 To view the TikTok community and safety rules click here.

Step 2: Data collection

After its analysis and verification, the content will be sent to a small group of audience and an evaluation will take place based on how the sample of users reacted to the content. Each metric tracked has a possible associated score. TikTok makes its predictions so that it can boost your content to users and make its recommendations on the #ForYou page.

Step 3: Performance evaluation 

Sending your video to a representative sample of your audience allows the algorithm to calculate different rates and metrics. This is called the "rating ratio". Like a school test, the TikTok algorithm scores your content on 30 points:

Rewatch rate = 10 points (this is the rewatch rate)

Completion rate = 8 points (what percentage of the video was watched. For example, if they watched half the video, the ratio is 0.5. Good video content will be watched in its entirety. TikTok displays the video analytics and the user can see, on average, how many seconds the viewers watched compared to the length of the video. If the average is higher than the length, the video has been viewed more than once, which is good for the ratio).

Shares (when viewers share a video with other users) = 6 points. Shares actually help your video gain new viewers and engagement. 

Comments = 4 points (The more comments the better. If the comments include other tagged users, it will direct more users to the video, similar to sharing).

I like = 2 points (This is the smallest commitment, but it counts.)

Source : Gitconnected

Unlike other social media platforms (cuckoo Facebook / Instagram) which rate followers, likes and comments higher. The TikTok algorithm prioritises the review rate with 10 points, followed by the completion rate with 8 points, and so on.

If your content's overall score is higher than average, the TikTok algorithm will push it to a wider audience with similar interests. This willsignificantly increase your Reach.

On the other hand, if the score is lower than the average, your video will disappear into the abyss .

If your content doesn't go viral in the first few days, don't give up. The cycle doesn't end, it just stops. This means that the algorithm might come back to your content once you start posting more frequently on the platform. 

Infographic of the TikTok algorithm for a content creator


Scroll stoping or the basis of the TikTok algorithm

In the age of fast-moving content, scroll stopping is about stopping your feed from scrolling. Eye-catching content encourages your visitors to scroll stop. That's the goal!

The biggest challenge for a content creator is to make an impression in the first three seconds of viewing. The best way to tame the TikTok algorithm is to use the power of storytelling, to create a clear promise from the beginning of the video. We can bet on an educational video, a video with suspense (we wait for the punchline!) or one that promotes an emotion. This last idea brings emotion and therefore a rewatch and even a sharing. Everyday scenes are easily sent to the people around you. In short, you must be the most interesting!

The importance of TikTok's algorithm is revealing when you consider that 90% of video views come directly from the For You page. Time plays a major role, but there's no need to make long films on mobile because you have to get straight to the point: 15 seconds can be enough on average to hold the audience's attention.

👑 TikTok expert tip: To become the true master of TikTok, keep the viewer on your video.

TikTok is an analysis machine thanks to its algorithm. With little means, you can be seen by the whole world. No doubt that the matrix of the social network will improve and evolve, but the advantage with this type of social network is that anyone can do it and broadcast effectively. Know these criteria and TikTok will open the door to a new community.

We'll support you in creating content and setting up effective campaigns on TikTok, ensuring that our actions are in line with your marketing objectives

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