The TikTok Algorithm: What you need to know, a deep-dive by TLOY
June 26, 2022
When it comes to social media platforms to market your brand and business in, TikTok trends take the spotlight. With a reported 1.1 billion active users, and 7.38 million of them being Australians over 18, there is an endless supply of scrollable video content. The platform is highly addictive (can confirm), with an estimated daily average duration of 26 minutes per TikTok session across Australians. Breaking down the demographics, 55.3% are self-identified female and 44.7% are self-identified male, making TikTok one of the most gender-equal platforms available.
So we have to ask; what is behind TikTok’s ability to successfully engage its users based on their unique and diverse interests?
The answer: TikTok’s algorithm. And we like it.
The great news for brands and businesses is that TikTok’s algorithm isn’t as vague as other platforms, as they have revealed through the following important factors.
Here’s what you need to know about the TikTok algorithm and how you can use it to your advantage, allowing you to expand your reach and grow your businesses' audience.
How does the TikTok algorithm work?
To understand the algorithm requires understanding of the For You Page, (FYP in short, aka #fyp). This is the first page a user lands on when they open the app - and it’s different for everyone based on a unique curation of video content determined by TikTok’s algorithm.
Recommended content is based on the following factors (as revealed by TikTok):
- User information: This is the video’s captions, sound and hashtags.
- User interaction: This tracks how users engage with their feed through likes, shares, comments, the type of accounts they follow, and the kind of videos they post.
- Device and Account Settings: The account language preference, location settings, and the device type - hello local area marketing
Each of these factors assist to deliver the best content for each user through content performance optimisation. The purpose behind TikTok’s FYP is to ensure users only receive video content that interests them. To do this, it means running these factors through the recommendation system that ranks the videos according to relevance to a user.
For example, if a user watches a video from start to finish, this is a strong indication that the user is interested in that type of content and therefore, TikTok will consequently feed similar content in the user’s FYP. What’s freaky is how quickly the algorithm learns this.
How to leverage the TikTok algorithm for increased brand exposure
If you want to increase reach and improve brand discovery, you’ll need to play by the rules of the TikTok algorithm.
The ability to go viral is a key basis of TikTok’s appeal, and many businesses have realised the rewards of going viral organically, or from users talking about their products. This often manifests in selling out online.
A key component of going viral is to involve your brand in the conversation. Keep an eye out for viral TikTok trends, then jump on those viral sounds pronto, and then create and share your video content with the right people.
For example, you may notice that your FYP is similar to a friend who you regularly share content with. If they watch and engage with the videos you send them, TikTok’s algorithm will pick up that they are interested in video content similar to your liking and will start feeding them the same.
Take advantage of this logic and apply it to how you want to engage with your future customers and followers, making video content that is highly shareable and creates a conversation or a trend.
An effective way of increasing reach is to explore industry relevant hashtags and follow creators or businesses in your space, enabling you to reach and target your focus audience.
TikTok trends and best practices
Leverage the power of the algorithm by staying on top of the latest trends. Hashtags such as #CouchGuy and #MamaSaidThatItWasOkay have seen great virality in recent video and sound trends. By incorporating these viral sounds and hashtags when posting your own videos and captions, you will also ride the wave of vitality thus increasing your chances of becoming shareable.
Here is a list of the top best practices for TikTok.
- Use trending hashtags - use the Discover tab to find trending videos and hashtags in your brand’s category. You’ll quickly be able to identify trending hashtags based on the number of videos using the hashtag. The more popular a hashtag is, the easier it will be to get your brand out there in front of those who follow the trend. A good way to maximise exposure is to use a mix of industry hashtags that are relevant and popular to expand your reach in front of the right audience (a.k.a. Your true customers).
As below for our client Meatball & Winebar we jumped on the Louis Theroux viral “Jiggle Jiggle” sound within the first 48 hours. We edited on the beat, used relevant and local area hashtags and reached a whopping 42K views - subsequently rocketing our Instagram (yes, Instagram) following by 300 followers.
- Use trending sounds - find popular sounds by tapping on the “+” icon on your navigation bar then click on “Add sound” at the top of your screen. You can then explore trending songs based on playlists or categories with “TikTok Viral” being a great starting place.
- Experiment with TikTok’s new features and filters - the constant addition of new features and filters creates opportunity to use them in your videos to try and catch the trend. There are some dedications for specific transitions, filters, or challenges, which can bring forth opportunities for you to start trending.
- Consistency is key - with all other social media platforms, one of the most important factors to seeing success is consistency - meaning a weekly content strategy just like you would on Instagram. Take advantage of consistent posting and explore different types of content styles to find out what works for your audience.
- Don’t delete - TikTok will think you are doing something dodgy and penalise your account, plus you never know when a video might go viral
Explore these ways to pop up on FYPs
Beyond the above, there are additional ways you can try to appear on FYPs. There’s no harm in experimenting with these and finding out if they work for you.
Regarded as a small indicator, you will often find content on your FYP from places close to you. For example, if you’re in Melbourne, you’ll more than likely be seeing content from Melbourne brands and influencers. So keep up those #melbournecity #melbournetok #foodiemelbourne hashtags.
If your TikTok account is linked to your phone number, you may start seeing video content from people in your contact list. This will work the same way reversed, where customers or clients save your number in their phone and therefore end up seeing your content on TikTok as a result.
Analyze your TikTok Analytics to identify your follower activity and engagement statistics. Find out what the optimal times are for increased post engagement and which content brings in higher reactions from your audience.
Taking the time to discover what works for your brand by analyzing performance is always a great way to strategize your TikTok marketing efforts, as opposed to shooting blanks in the hope of hitting a winner.
We hope that our overview of the TikTok algorithm has helped you understand a bit more about how the platform works, and has given you some insights into how you can make TikTok work for you.
Get in touch with our TLOY team to discover ways to gain greater reach to the right audiences for your business and brand. We are a Melbourne based digital, creative, Influencer agency working across both Instagram and TikTok.