How does the TikTok algorithm work in 2024?

blog header how does the tiktok algorithm work

Winning over the TikTok algorithm is key to going viral in 2024. But how do you actually do that? And what is the algorithm, anyway?

Here’s everything you need to know.  

Contents

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What is the TikTok algorithm?

The TikTok algorithm determines what you see on your “For You” page (FYP) as well as what videos rank in your search results. And it dictates the visibility of your own content. 

Basically, it’s TikTok’s recommendation system

The overall aim of the platform is to make sure that viewers keep watching. In that, it’s similar to other social video platforms, like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts

To reach that goal, it’s essential that the content you see matches your interests to a T. It needs to resonate with you. 

That’s where the algorithm comes in.

like comment emoticon audience engagement icon

How does the TikTok algorithm work?

To recommend the right videos to the right users, TikTok’s algorithm harnesses three kinds of signals: user interactions, video information, and settings on your account and devices. 

Individual User Interactions

To start with the first, TikTok constructs a profile based on user behavior – how you interact with content.

User activity that the algorithm takes into account includes:

  • your comments
  • your likes and shares
  • videos you favorite
  • accounts you follow
  • creators you’ve opted to hide
  • videos you marked as “not interested”
  • video content you marked as inappropriate
  • your video completion rate (which clips you watched through to the end)
  • content you create yourself

Using all of this information, the algorithm gets a sense of a TikTok user’s general likes and dislikes. It works pretty much like YouTube’s, but with slightly different data. Going forward, it will be able to recommend content that matches them – based on video information.

Tyler Sinden from The Marketing Lab talks about the key metrics the TikTok algorithm considers.

Video information

Video information is the second major element that the algorithm takes into account. When content creators upload new TikTok videos, the algorithm scans this information – or metadata – to match it to the right audience. 

It takes into account: 

  • hashtags
  • sounds
  • trending topics
  • captions
  • effects

TikTok uses all of this data to determine what type of content a video delivers and which target audience it best matches to generate engagement. 

Account and Device Settings

Finally, a third element that the algorithm uses to decide what content you see – in your search results and on your FYP – are your device and account settings. These include:

  • your country settings
  • your language preference
  • your mobile device type (tablet vs. Android vs. iPhone)
  • the interest categories you chose as a new user

The first two points especially determine which regionally-popular content you see, and in which languages. It also influences where your content will be seen, and by proxy, how well you can monetize it!

Here’s Joseph Todd talking about what you can actually do with your TikTok geolocation settings.

Content the Algorithm Ignores

While all the data above determines what the algorithm does recommend, there are also a few content types that it ignores resolutely. This includes:

  • content you already saw
  • duplicates
  • content flagged as spam
  • potentially upsetting content, including anything drug- or alcohol-related (even if it’s legal where you live) or any borderline sexual or medical content

Joseph again, talking about TikTok community violations – and how to appeal and avoid them.

have a great content strategy

How to harness the TikTok algorithm to go viral?

So how can you harness the algorithm to boost your content?

First off, the good news: You don’t need to have a huge follower count to go viral. In fact, TikTok itself gives users this heads-up:

You may come across a video in your feed that doesn’t appear to have amassed a huge number of likes. Bringing a diversity of videos into your For You feed gives you additional opportunities to stumble upon new content categories, discover new creators, and experience new perspectives. —TikTok

That said, there are no easy hacks to instantly go viral. However, there are several tried-and-tested strategies you can use to increase your chances.

Pinpoint Your Niche and Subculture

Are you a cottagecore girl, a BookToker, or a denizen of dark academia? The first step in harnessing the algorithm is to pinpoint your niche – and stick to it. By staying consistent in the type of content you create, you have a better chance oof generating continuous engagement and increasing your audience. Here’s Abby, a British BookToker:
@abbysbooks

I said what i said #booktok #bookrecomendations

♬ original sound - abby 🧚

TikTok’s Audience Insights

Talking about your audience, you can also get the full scoop of who watches your content in TikTok’s analytics tools.

That way, you’ll be better able to strategize and produce content that will rank in the algorithm and resonate with your viewers.

Go All-In On A Strong Hook

The first few seconds of a TikTok video are the most important. Both the algorithms and the viewers know that.

For the algorithm, watch time is a vital metric. If viewers zip right past your clip, it won’t recommend it to others.

That’s why putting energy in your opening hook is crucial. Think strategically about how to best capture your viewers right off the bat.

Use Trending Sounds and Music

Keeping up with trends is one of the best ways of winning over the TikTok algorithm. Using trending audio is an easy way to do so. See what’s hot and how you can best incorporate it in our content – with the matching dance.

Focus on Content Quality

When it comes to content, quality is key. High-quality content, crafted specifically for TikTok rather than mindlessly reposted from other sites, has a much better chance of gaining exposure through the algorithm.

Target the Right Hashtags

When you’re adding hashtags to your clips, don’t just think about currently popular hashtags, but also about what best captures your videos’ topic.

Hashtag challenges are fun and a great way to gain exposure quick, but to build an audience sustainably, you need to get people hooked on who you are as a creator.

Consistent hashtag use is a great start for that. Think about what keywords viewers could use in search to discover your content.

Engage With Other Users

Finally, another strategy to win over the algorithm is to engage with other users – think stitches, duets, video replies. This allows you to harness the audience another user has already built – and vice versa – and elevates engagement for both of you.

Bottom Line on the TikTok Algorithm

Getting on the good side of TikTok’s algorithm is essential. It will help you appear in searches and recommendations, and supercharge your follower growth.

While there’s no secret sauce to win over the algorithm, you can pursue the strategies outlined above to send the right ranking signals. And boost your chances of going viral.

FAQs

No. The TikTok algorithm takes into account user activity, video information, and account and device settings to recommend content that resonates with a particular user. 

The TikTok algorithm determines videos’ visibility in recommendations and search results. It takes into account user activity, video information, and account and device settings.

You can influence what videos the algorithm recommends to you by interacting with content – marking videos at “not interested”, following different creators, sharing content, and leaving likes and comments. The algorithm takes these signals into account for future recommendations. 

Yes. If a user watches your video on a loop, each view is counted separately. This is not the case when you rewatch your own videos, though. 

You can influence what videos the algorithm recommends to you by interacting with content – marking videos at “not interested”, following different creators, sharing content, and leaving likes and comments. The algorithm takes these signals into account for future recommendations.