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Understanding the TikTok Algorithm

Date Posted: 13 February, 2020
Understanding the TikTok Algorithm

 

Getting under the skin of any social media algorithm is the bread and butter for any social media marketer or brand out there. Over the years, social media apps have adapted their algorithms numerous times, affecting how likely your content is to be shown, and how likely your target user is to interact with your posts.

But, there’s a new kid on the block, TikTok – and its algorithm has made it easier to go viral than any other platform.

The Basics

“What on earth is TikTok?!” I hear you cry…

Well, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past year (or you’re over the age of 45), TikTok has led the app rankings with over 738 mill downloads in 2019 alone. TikTok allows users to share short creative videos which has undoubtedly taken the social app experience to a new level.

 

@jbleuropeThe bigger the speaker, the better the party they said! ? #JBL #FYP #ForYou #fy #foryoupage? original sound – zaidelouardani

The main reason for its success is that it hits the sweet spot of showing you content posted by your friends/people you follow, but also content that is tailored “For You”.

The “For You” page is the first thing you see when opening the app, containing endless videos that you will presumably enjoy. It’s this page which will have you scrolling on the toilet till your legs go numb (come on, we’ve all been there). But essentially, this is why TikTok is a success, it’s not social media, it’s social entertainment.

How does it work?

TikTok is using machine learning to evaluate the quality of every video uploaded. Everyone understands that content is king, and this applies to TikTok, good content = social success.

When a video is uploaded, TikTok shows it to a small number of users in between popular trending videos. This way, the user doesn’t get bored. The algorithm then measures how much of your video is actually watched, as well as how many likes, comments, and shares it gets. It’s the viral videos that ultimately act as the carrot on the stick, hooking users to watch more, and more, and more, and more, and m…. you get the idea

The sweet spot ratio brands or users should aim for is one “like” for every 10 views. This triggers the algorithm to show your video to more people. In essence, the algorithm is triggered by the velocity of the engagement it receives. Content that gets less than that 1/10 like to view ratio will stop growing. The beauty of TikTok is that you don’t need a strong following to go viral. Anyone can record a video, upload it into TikTok and start getting views based on this algorithm.

So, what does GOOD look like?

What sets TikTok apart from other apps like Instagram and Snapchat, is that TikTok uses AI to determine precisely just how good your video is, and it ranks you on a scale of ten views to tens of millions of views.

Adding to this, the higher the percentage of completion your video gets the more distribution. It’s likely that as your distribution grows, the velocity metrics your video needs to achieve to keep growing increase. Meaning it’s much easier to go from 10 people to 100 people than from 50,000 people to 100,000 people.

As completed views have a lot of weight in the algorithm, we recommend keeping your videos between 10-15 seconds if your goal is to go viral. TikTok has a bunch of features that can aid your creativity, stickers, filters and music overlays that can also capture the attention of your audience.

TikTok has rightfully earned its place amongst the social media app elite. If you haven’t been paying attention, you may want to download and start creating. Brands that can be flexible and adapt their content and channel approach to the ever-changing social media landscape can reap the rewards.

At Ranieri Agency we understand brands have an evolving audience, and we deliver ideas that make sure they get noticed.

If you’re keen to learn more around TikTok or improve your social media presence and make a real difference to your brand, get in touch here and we can discuss how best we can work together.

Written by Sam Williams, Senior Social Media Manager.

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