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How TikTok's Algorithm Works | Our Findings

If you’re a TikTok user, or want to learn more about the platform, read on! We’ve spent the last month playing with TikTok’s algorithm, and here are our findings.





TikTok's Algorithm Insights

1. Interestingly, users are shown the ‘For You’ page (similar to Instagram’s Discover tab) over their ‘Following’ page by default. This offers a much larger opportunity for organic growth, as users see content from those who they do no actually follow first. This is really encouraging when starting out on the platform - as you can still perform well with little following.

2. We’ve found that TikTok are generous with your first video. Whilst not officially confirmed, our test revealed that the first post benefited from tremendous reach. On following posts, the reach actually declined massively. We predict that TikTok’s algorithm is much more generous to first-time posters, allowing them to experience the platforms impressive capabilities almost immediately. Understandably, this would encourage users to commit to the platform. From the second post onwards, however, the reach returns to normal. So, don’t be disheartened!

3. We predict that TikTok ranks your content based on how it performs in the first 10 minutes. If your video gets high engagement initially, it will be shown to more people in the ‘For You Page’ (FYP). Conversely, if it does not perform well in the first 10 minutes, it will likely under-perform. So, we encourage posting at the right time to make the most of when people are most active on the platform. Definitely do your research into this.

4. Leading on from this, we found that between 3-9pm on Monday-Friday and 9-12am during Weekends were the most engaging time for our audience. Most TikTok users are students or young adults, so tailor your content to school & working times. This is vital! Without a doubt, posting outside these times will heavily impact engagement and reach.

5. It is important to note that TikTok is a very personal platform. Similar to Twitter, we found that accounts who positioned themselves as an individual rather than a brand entity were much better received. To test this, we first labelled our account @doubleupsocial – a Social Media Agency, and then @markatdoubleup – A Social Media Freelancer. We saw the number of page views and our followers increase rapidly when displaying our account as the latter.




6. Add a more personal and human touch to your videos. Following on from the point above, we found that when we added a human touch (by this we mean human narration, hands in the clips, someone talking to the camera etc..) our engagement shot up when compared to product-centred videos. It’s the same story for the thumbnail. Thumbnails which included a person generally outperformed those which did not.

7. Make sure to utilise trending music in your videos. TikTok kindly provides you with a list of the current trending music songs on the platform, we recommend using it. Whilst it may be tempting to find a unique piece of music that fits the narrative of your video (and we admit, sometimes this may be best if you already have a well-established audience), using trending video adheres to TikTok’s algorithm and resonates with the young audiences.

8. TikTok is famous for its popular ‘challenge’ culture. Users heavily engage with viral challenges such as dance moves or food contests. If relevant for your brand, try to participate in these challenges or offer your own spin on them. This will increase your relevance on the platform and drive people to your page. It also adds an element of fun and personality to your brand account.

9. When creating videos, utilise TikTok’s special effects. For some videos, we simply stuck clips together, and for others we added transitions, filters and text overlays. Our tests revealed that the special effect videos performed surprisingly better than the plain videos. Remember, the content of your video is truly what matters, so don’t over-do the special effects. However, using them where needed can make your content stand out on a very busy platform.

10. As with other social media platforms, using the right hashtags is important. Similar to Instagram, when we used generic hashtags, such as foodie or uktiktok, the results were disappointing. On the other hand, when we used more niche hashtags, such as ukwaffleart for example, the post attracted a much larger reach. After all, it is easier to champion these niche hashtags, since there is less competition. Take the time to research into any niche hashtags that could be relevant for your content.

11. Finally, to further our reach, we spent 10-20 minutes per day interacting with posts falling under relevant hashtags. This included liking, commenting and following (in moderation) other videos that were similar to our own. In return, many of these accounts followed through to our profile and interacted with our content. To increase the engagement further, we interacted with users within 10 minutes after we posted content. This helped to push our immediate engagement quickly, which in turn, pushed out content to rank better.




The TikTok algorithm is continuing to change, and we will keep testing it. So, keep your eyes peeled for any further insights that we reveal!

Do you have any tips? Let us know below!


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