TikTok Algorithm: How it Works and 7 Tips to Hack it

TikTok is a social media platform that allows users to produce and share very short creative videos of 15 to 60 seconds. With over 800 million active users worldwide, TikTok has become a major social media app that has not only grown in popularity over the last year but it the most downloaded app . The platform’s features are doing so well they are being copied by other platforms. Instagram has recently launched Instagram Reels, which runs videos on repeat within a few seconds, similar to TikTok.  

As this app continues to thrive, and its algorithm being exceptionally sharp and delivering what people want to see, knowing how it works is a no brainer.

Therefore, it is important we investigate how users thrive on the platform using tricks that leverage the algorithm. 

Log into your TikTok account and let’s get started!

What is the TikTok Algorithm?

The iconic “For You” page on TikTok is how most users find new videos. If we understand how the algorithm works, we can determine how to influence what a user sees on their feed. 

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.”

From this, we can take away these three things:

1. Look at User Interactions:

User interactions will include all of the following: 

  • Videos they like or share 
  • Accounts they follow 
  • Comments they post 
  • Content they create.

In this category, the strongest ranking indicator is the video completion rate. That is, if users watch a video in full, it’s more likely to be pushed for further distribution to other feeds than the one that viewers scrolled past or watched for a second or two.

Therefore, the trick for creators is making videos that hold viewers’ attention till the end so as to make it to the For You page.

2. Utilize Video Information:

Any information on the videos will include the following details:

  • Captions
  • Sounds 
  • Hashtags

From the highlighted parameters, it is apparent that the algorithm is more likely to push content that a user frequently explores. Hence, if a if users often search for a particular hashtag or enjoy content with a specific sound bite, they’re more likely to see videos with the same hashtag and sound.

3. Read Device and Account Settings:

When you’re reading your device and account settings, consider these factors: 

  • Language preference 
  • Country setting 
  • Device type

While the outlined factors above don’t have much weight as the other ranking parameters, they play a role in optimizing the watcher’s experience.

So in a nutshell, when a video is posted:

  • The algorithm shows it to an account’s followers and people likely to be interested in it. 
  • Then, the users’ interaction factors decides the distribution path and speed through completion rate, comments, shares and thumbs up.
  • Finally, the algorithm utilizes the users’ response to make the video go viral.

It is important to know that the TikTok algorithm does not explicitly give preference to follower count as a ranking parameter. So, from high follower accounts to new accounts, everyone stands a chance to get exposures on their video as long as it meets the algorithm requirements.

This is How TikTok Algorithm Works.

Now that we know how the TikTok algorithm works, let’s discuss how to effectively and successfully use it. By following these tips and tricks, your video advertisements will be more visible to viewers and gain the engagement it needs to elevate brand awareness.

Let’s get started! 

Write an engaging caption

TikTok Caption

Captions on TikTok thrive if they’re written with fewer words. Like videos, the more engaging and short your captions, the more users are likely to watch the entire video. 

The goal is to be compelling even with a character count of 150 or less. Do this by creating a call-to-action that gives viewers a reason to start watching. Even captions with questions can help overall engagement.

Create short videos that engages viewers from the start

TikTok lets you create 15- and 60-second long videos. However, you’re more likely to get your audience to watch bite-sized, engaging videos for longer (or, fingers crossed, in full) than minute long ones. Naturally, this boosts your video completion rate, the strongest TikTok algorithm ranking factor.

Hence, it is important to  introduce a hook into your video within three seconds so viewers stay captivated and not scroll past.

Ensure your video are high quality and well-edited

Engaging TikTok Videos

Quality and edits separate your videos stand out from the rest.  You’re in competition with millions of other videos being posted daily. 

If the quality of your videos isn’t up to par, meaning they’re grainy, have poor lighting, or muffled sound, they’ll likely be passed over by users. Use all of TikTok’s editing features, which include filters, effects, stickers, templates, and many other editing options. 

Post when your audience is most active

It’s important to post when your audience is most active and engaged. Without an audience, you might be pushed to the side by the algorithm. When you post during active times, there are more opportunities for the video to be shared, commented on, and liked, which results in more viewership and followers.

Use trending sounds and music in your videos

Just as hashtags trend, sounds also ride the popularity wave on TikTok. This means creating videos to these trending sounds can help you tap into the algorithm further.

You’ll need to open your video editor and click Sounds on the top. Scroll down to find trending sounds. You can also gather trending sounds from your TikTok Pro Account. Spot what your followers have been listening to in the last seven days under the Follower tabs.

Engage and connect with other TikTok users

Social media, networking is especially important. Make sure to leave comments and engage on other people’s posts. 

Be genuine, and make sure to show that you care about the topics you discuss. If you aren’t genuine in your engagements, this can backfire and cause you to lose followers. 

When you receive comments and shares, then you’ll be picked up more in the ‘For You’ page. 

Enable people to interact with your video content

By enabling your download option, people are able to share your content on other social platforms. This makes downloading videos and cross promoting them on other channels free and easy.

Also, ensure you keep your duet option open because this can further boost the popularity of your video, hence more downloads. Duets are videos a TikTok user creates alongside another creator’s original video. 

Use appropriate hashtags

TikTok Hashtags

Hashtags equal discoverability, but they need to be the right people to discover them. Hashtags should be relevant to the videos you post because the people interested in a topic will be the ones searching for the hashtag.

Joining Hashtag Challenges is another way to go viral on TikTok. By posting high-quality content to the Hashtag Challenge, you will show up on that specific page for 24-hours and may be seen by the brand that is sponsoring the challenge.

Two Types of TikTok Hashtags to follow 

For Your Page

These hashtags help get your videos on the For You page. They include #fyp #foryou #foryoupage. Many brands are using these to get their campaigns known to their target market.  


TikTok Trending Hashtags

Trending hashtags increase the visibility of your video. Using these hashtags can jumpstart your video’s popularity.

There are often hashtag challenges associated with trending topics, so videos should follow suit.  

The Bottom Line 

Do you want your TikTok page to be more relevant to your followers and consumers? By understanding the TikTok algorithm, you can grasp how videos should be created. 

Algorithms for social media platforms may need investigation to determine how to become more relevant to consumers. While there are set tips and tricks to follow, some may be more well-received than others. 

Apparently, there is no way to completely ‘hack’ the TikTok algorithm. However, by employing the tips above and creating quality content that appeals to your audience, your videos have greater chances of going viral.

Let us know which tip you’re most excited to try, and reach out to a TikTok ads agency for help!