You’d probably have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the social media juggernaut called TikTok.
It’s become an endless source of entertainment for millions of people, especially during the global pandemic and lockdowns. Interestingly, it’s also become quite noteworthy in its use as a marketing tool for businesses and brands, as well.
What’s TikTok Exactly?
TikTok is a video sharing platform with almost 1 billion users. It’s a wide-reaching and popular app that allows people to share their videos with other users, largely for entertainment purposes. However, TikTok has also become a popular way of promoting businesses, especially smaller businesses and recent startups.
The TikTok algorithm is a set of code that works as a recommendation system for its users. It determines which videos will be showed on your ‘For You’ page (also called FYP), based on your viewing preferences and interaction data. TikTok itself describes its algorithm as a way of providing you with a stream of curated videos, tailored to your interests, likes, and dislikes, and featuring content and creators of your choosing.
TikTok Secret: How It Works
Although most social platforms keep their algorithms a secret, as it’s often a proprietary technology unique to each platform, recent skepticism shown by their audience has prompted TikTok to share the basic workings of their algos.
Key features in the TikTok algorithm:
Video information is gathered from what you search on the discover tab of the app. This includes any hashtags you search, as well as creators or video captions, specific sounds, music, or effects. These combine together to provide video information for your FYP.
User Interaction / Information
Similar to Instagram and Facebook, TikTok also determines what to recommend to you based on user interactions with their content. These interactions include what content you like or react to, accounts you follow, videos added to your favorites, videos marked as not interested, videos shared, videos reported as inappropriate, creators you’ve hidden, which videos you watch to the end, as well as the content you post on your own account. All of this data is used to make a profile for you.
Account Settings (Preferences)
Account and device settings are the last factor that’s counted in the TikTok algorithm. This factor has the least effect on the content you see on your FYP, as it these are one-time settings and don’t change everyday. The relevant account settings include your location or country, your language preference, as well as the type of mobile device you use. It also counts the interest categories you selected when you signed up on the app.
However, the best thing about the TikTok algorithm is what it doesn’t count. TikTok does not base video recommendations on the follower count of a consumer or content creator, or even on the previous successes of a video. What this means is that it can be a great platform for new businesses, as it allows them an equal opportunity to gain new followers and increase their brand exposure everyday.
Hacks to Going Viral on TikTok
While some social media platforms can take quite some time to build a following, the beauty of TikTok is that just about anyone can go viral with a video and grow a following relatively quickly. Some of our favorite TikTok algorithm tips are listed below.
Make the Most of Your Initial Seconds
When you first post a video on TikTok, it boosts the reach of the video on the ‘For You’ page for a short time, to determine how well it performs. The algorithm measures how many people watch your video to completion. If most people are not watching the full video, the TikTok algorithm will flag your video as unengaging and stop boosting it. That means you need to make sure your audience is hooked in the first 3 to 5 seconds of your video so they don’t skip it.
Keep an Eye on Trends
Trends on TikTok come and go very fast. Jumping on the bandwagon once the trend has lost its momentum is no good to you. So keep an eye on the trending page on the app to make sure you stay up to date.
Post at the Right Time
Check the analytics section of your creator account on Tiktok to determine which times you get the most engagement on your content. Pick that time to post new content.
Use the Right Hashtags
Hashtags can make your video viral or make it flop completely. Find the right hashtags that are relevant not only to your video, but also to the trends that are currently dominating on TikTok.
Is There a TikTok Formula for Success?
Unfortunately, there is not. While it would be nice if so, the truth is TikTok is like any other social platform, and you’ll get out of it what you put into it. Learn to strategize and use your time well, and TikTok could be a great addition to your marketing arsenal. Get sucked in for the entertainment value, and it could wind up being more of a hindrance to your success, with your time better spent on more effective marketing tactics that aren’t a distraction from your goals.