There have been many rumors and speculation about the TikTok algorithm, much of which makes the platform sound super complex and hard to dominate. All that is about to change because not too long ago, TikTok headquarters finally opened up about it, and you're about to learn the facts as learned from the experts!
First up, let's talk about how TikTok determines what shows up on your "For You" feed and, for that matter, what will show up for your audience. According to the platform, when you upload a video, the For You algorithm shows it first to a small subset of users. These people may or may not be existing followers of your account, but TikTok shows it to them based on their past behavior. If they respond favorably (sharing the video, watching it in full, etc.), TikTok then offers it to more people with similar interests. That same process repeats itself, and if the positive feedback loop continues long enough, the video could go viral. Of course, the opposite is also true. If the first sub-segment doesn't show signs of enjoyment, the content is delivered to fewer users limiting the video's potential reach.
The For You is, therefore, the best place to go to find new content. That's where you want to end up more often than not, if at all possible. 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, too."
Bet you're wondering what these "factors" are. Here's what we know for sure:
• User interactions
• Video information
Video information includes details like the hashtags you use, captions, sounds, etc.
• Device and account settings
That refers to things like country setting, the device you're using as well as language preference.
The TikTok recommendation system will weigh all the factors mentioned above to ensure each For You page is unique to the user based on their level of interest. TikTok also explains that they have strong signals and weak signals that help them determine where to rank content.
Strong signals include how long a viewer watched the video, whether the person shared it and if they followed the creator who uploaded the video after watching it. If someone watches your video start beginning to end, the algorithm takes that as a strong indicator to show more of your content. And even if you're not in the same country, your content is more likely to show up on their For You page.
Weak signals include language preference, the device being used, and whether the consumer and creator are in the same geographical location. There are also a few negative indicators that TikTok looks for, including whether a user taps "Not Interested" or if they chose to hide content from a certain creator.
Therefore, we may assume that For You page videos are ranked based on the likelihood of a user's interest in a piece of content. That's why you need clarity on your audience and a great content strategy that will get them hooked.
The good news is you don't. TikTok has confirmed you don't need to be a superstar to go viral on their platform. While a video is likely to receive more views if posted by an account with a large follower base, it is not a prerequisite. TikTok stated that "neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system."
Take a deep breath and celebrate your future success because, according to TikTok, even if you have zero followers, you can still get attention if your content is interesting to the target audience. This is one of the reasons TikTok is pretty special. You might be on your first post, and you still have a chance of appearing on the For You page of potential followers!