How the TikTok Algorithm Works

If you’ve spent any time on TikTok, the algorithm seems impossible to understand, and honestly… can be “spookily” accurate for your preferences! If you can think back to when you first joined the app, you might remember that the For You Page seemed a bit more random and less tailored, but the more time you spent, the more it seemed to understand what you liked! 

Based on this notion, it was assumed that the For You page was just a curated feed, much like the Instagram Explore tab, but actually, it is a bit more detailed than that. 

Luckily for us, TikTok is clearing up the mystery! They call it the recommendation system. In this system, each factor has a specific weight in how much they consider it for their user recommendations! 

How the TikTok Recommendation System Works

1. User Interactions 

One thing that quickly becomes obvious as an avid TikTok user is that if there is a video that you like, you’ll start to see similar videos using the same sound or sentiment. This is because TikTok takes note of the videos you like, comment on, or share with friends –  and of course, the content you create! 

2. Video Information 

Something to keep in mind about TikTok that is very different from other social media platforms is that it is a sound-based app. It has popularized making different videos with the same sounds. Most often with sounds that are “trending”. So, if there is a sound that you engage with often, you will certainly see more of those videos.

3. Device and Account Settings

Depending on what TikTok has access to, it can use your language, country, device type, and more to make assumptions about the type of content you might like to see more often. For example, living in Dallas, I see a lot of videos like, “best dinner spots in Dallas”, “where to have your girl’s night out,” etc. However, these factors receive lower weight in the measuring system. 

The main thing that makes TikTok unique is that its recommendations are powered by your feedback! Each time you like a video or send it to a friend, you are essentially telling TikTok, “show me more of this!” You also have the option to correct the recommendations if you are seeing something that doesn’t fit the type of content you’re interested in. You just simply press down on the video and select “not interested” and TikTok will learn to show you videos like that anymore. 

Understanding the algorithm not only helps us understand the content we are seeing from a user perspective, but it can also help create a marketing strategy! In previous Core posts, we’ve suggested partnering with influencers to create branded TikTok content. Knowing how the algorithm works can help you select these partnerships more strategically. You first need to understand who your target customer is and then make sure that lines up with the audience of the influencer you are considering.

When it comes to TikTok, there is still a lot to learn and the algorithm is constantly being developed and improved, so make sure you stay up-to-date with our social media posts to keep informed. You can also schedule a call with our social media team to brainstorm how to incorporate TikTok into your marketing strategy.