The algorithm… the mere mention of it is enough to raise a TikTok creator’s blood pressure.
The TikTok algorithm governs everything about the social media platform. It’s also unpredictable and ever-changing. Once you think you’ve got a handle on how the TikTok algorithm works, it switches up. Because of this, it can sometimes seem like you’ve wasted valuable time and energy trying to make the algorithm work for you. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Even though TikTok’s algorithm is complex, you can still make it work for your account. Producing quality content, engaging with your audience, and jumping on the right trends can expand your profile’s reach and earn you more followers, even despite the algorithm’s many changes.
How does the TikTok algorithm work?
The TikTok algorithm determines how much visibility and engagement your content gets. It curates content for users based on the following:
It considers users’ interactions.
TikTok uses interactions to gauge the type of content a user wants to see. The more a user likes, shares, and comments on your videos, the more your content will appear on the platform’s For You page (FYP).
Following that logic, if a user hides a creator or marks a video as “not interested,” the algorithm will not show them that creator’s content or similar videos as much.
TikTok wants to keep users engaged and prevent them from closing the app, so it personalizes content recommendations to match users’ interests. For example, if you’re a fan of food content, your feed will be full of food creators and related content. It’s a formula that works and it’s exactly why many people love the platform in the first place.
It analyzes your videos’ information.
TikTok uses meta information, like hashtags, song titles, and captions, to show relevant results when users search for specific content in the Discover tab.
Say a user wants to see popular videos from the “Made You Look” trend. They might input “Meghan Trainor” or “Made You Look” into the Search Tab. TikTok would then pull up all videos that match these criteria, much like how a search engine would.
It curates content for you based on your device and account settings.
Device and account settings like language preferences and geolocation influence the type of content in TikTok users’ feeds, especially for new accounts.
In the beginning, the algorithm doesn’t have enough data on a user’s preferences, so it curates their feed based on the categories of interest selected during their profile creation, along with their geographical location and their language preference.
What is not included in the TikTok algorithm?
The TikTok algorithm will not distribute:
- Duplicate content.
- Content that viewers have already seen.
- Content that the algorithm flags as spam, or that viewers tag as “not interested.”
- Potentially upsetting content like graphic videos.
Now that you have a grasp of how the TikTok algorithm works, let’s dive into the ins and outs of making it work for you.
TikTok algorithm tips to get more reach
Many TikTok creators think they need to have a ton of followers to reach a large audience on the platform, but this isn’t always true.
According to TikTok, “while a video is likely to receive more views if posted by an account that has more followers, by virtue of that account having built up a larger follower base, neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system.”
In other words, your videos can amass thousands of views even if you have just a handful of followers. Whether your audience is big or small, you can use these tips to get more views on your TikTok content.
1. Tap into TikTok subcultures
TikTok has numerous subcultures built around specific niches, from everyday subjects like fitness (#FitTok) to eccentric corners like #WitchTok. Creating content within a subculture is one of the easiest ways to get the TikTok algorithm to amplify your content to the right audience.
For example, if you consistently create workout videos, the algorithm will place these videos on the For You pages of TikTok users who typically engage with fitness content, allowing you to reach a larger, targeted audience beyond your followers.
The best way to tap into TikTok subcultures is to niche down. Here’s how:
- First, identify a subject you’re genuinely passionate about. This can be anything, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
- Search for TikTok subcultures that overlap with your chosen interest to get an idea of the types of videos other creators have posted. You can search subcultures using hashtags.
- Create unique content with relevant subculture hashtags. If your video is about parenting tips, add hashtags like #ParentsOfTikTok and #ParentingTips.
Niching often gets a bad rep, because many creators think it pigeonholes their creativity. But this isn’t necessarily true. As a creator, you’re free to explore your niche however you like. For example, you can create unique content within your niche based on trends from other subcultures. And nothing’s stopping you from creating content outside your niche every once in a while!
2. Use hashtags
Adding hashtags to your TikTok videos increases the chances your content will be discovered through the search feature, which lets you amass views from TikTok users who don’t follow you.
The TikTok algorithm uses hashtags to categorize content, so users are delivered relevant videos when using the search function.
For example, someone searching for the trending hashtag #WednesdayDance will find clips from the dance scene in the Netflix series Wednesday, as well as videos from TikTok users recreating the viral Wednesday dance.
Just because hashtags help you get more TikTok views, that doesn’t mean you should add a bunch of random ones to your TikTok videos. To fully leverage the power of the algorithm, you should only use hashtags that are relevant to your content.
For instance, don’t add #cookingtips to a video about investing in mutual funds, even if the hashtag is trending.
There are three simple ways to find hashtags that are relevant to your content:
- Check the hashtags that popular creators in your niche are using.
- Look at trending hashtags in the Discover tab.
- Use TikTok hashtag tools like TagsFinder and Toolzu to discover the latest hashtags in your niche.
TikTok doesn’t have an official limit on the number of hashtags you can include in each post, but most creators advise that you use only 3 to 5 hashtags per post.
You can also combine popular and trending hashtags with niche ones to maximize your reach and increase your views. Popular and trending hashtags already have a ton of content, so it’s easy for your videos to get lost in the mix if you’re using them alone.
On the other hand, niche hashtags don’t have much traction yet, because people aren’t actively searching for them. For example, if you create a video about financial freedom for moms, you can add popular hashtags like #financefreedom and #MomTok along with niche hashtags like #wealthformoms to maximize your reach.
3. Jump on relevant trends early
From the “Passing The Phone” challenge to viral sounds like “It’s corn,” trends are one of the most beloved aspects of TikTok. In fact, TikTok trends are so powerful that they often spread beyond the app and create buzz on other social media platforms.
Creating content around TikTok trends is a smart way to get your videos in front of new audience segments, especially if you don’t have many followers. In addition to placing trending videos on TikTok users’ For You pages, the algorithm categorizes trends in the Discover tab, where users go to find new content, which helps these videos gain a ton of traction. For example, the #newyearnewme trend currently has more than 3.2 billion views!
There are many ways to find what’s trending on TikTok:
- Check the Discover Tab to find trend categories.
- Search the TikTok Creative Center to find trending songs and viral sounds in your region.
- Follow #trendalertto stay updated on TikTok trends as they drop.
Before jumping on a trend, make sure it checks two boxes: relevance and timing.
In this case, relevance means that the trend should be related in some way to your niche or the audience you want to reach. For example, if your content is about financial tips, the #bussit challenge might not be the right trend for you.
Timing is key, too, because trends come and go fast on TikTok, says Yinka Owate, TikTok Manager at OkayAfrica. “If you see something trending and you jump on it late, like next week or in two weeks, it wouldn’t really help. You have to do it early, like today or tomorrow,” she says.
“It’s very important because this is the time when many people are engaging with the trend and the algorithm is actively promoting content related to that particular trend,” Owate adds. “If you jump on it late, people might not see your content because they’re not actually looking for videos under that trend anymore.”
Jumping on a trend and gaining lots of traction is the easy part. To retain your audience and sustain growth, focus on putting out original content that’s relevant to your audience’s needs.
4. Share Stitch and Duet video content
Duets allow you to merge your TikTok video with another creator’s content. The original content and your own video (featuring comments or reactions to the original video) appear side by side, like a split screen. Here’s what it looks like.
Publishing Stitch and Duet videos is a great way to reach another creator’s audience and, ultimately, get more eyes on your content. You’ll tag the other creator to your video, and if they engage with it — like, comment, or repost — the video might appear in their followers’ feeds and get even more views.
Creating Stitch or Duet TikTok videos doesn’t require advanced video editing skills. These features are already built into the app, and you can use them with just the click of a button.
How to Stitch videos on TikTok
- Tap the Share button on the side of the video you’d like to stitch.
- Click on Stitch from the available options.
- Crop the part of the video you’d like to Stitch and click Next.
- Choose from the filming options on the side panel.
- Now, record your video, then tap the checkmark when you’re done.
- Edit your video, if required, and click Next.
- Adjust the video settings, write a description, and – voila! – Your Stitched video is set.
How to Duet videos on TikTok
- Click on the Share button for the video you’d like to Duet.
- Select Duet and select your preferred filming option.
- Record your video and click on the checkmark to save it.
- Edit your video.
- Add your caption and hashtags.
- Post your Duet!
5. Post consistently
How often you put out content affects how the TikTok algorithm distributes your content. Consistent creators are more likely to have their videos on the For You page than creators who post only once in a blue moon.
“As much as, sometimes, we experience low engagement and all of that, it’s still good to create content regularly. It shows you’re serious with the platform and then the algorithm can promote your videos,” Owate says.
TikTok recommends that you post 1 to 4 times per day for the best results. However, many creators say the most important thing is sticking with a regular posting schedule, even if you can’t put out multiple videos a day.
“You don’t have to post every day on TikTok, but try to post at least 2 to 3 times a week,” says TikTok content creator Adeife Adeoye.
Publishing creative and authentic content regularly is hard work. To make it easier, here’s what you can do:
- Create a content bank where you save any ideas for future TikTok videos.
- Create content in batches so you don’t have to record a new video every time you want to post new content.
Another advantage of posting consistently is that you’ll quickly pick up on your audience’s preferences and habits.
For example, by posting consistently, you can discover what time of day your content gets the most engagement, and which types of videos get the most engagement.
TikTok algorithm tips for more engagement
Getting your content in front of lots of people is just one piece of the puzzle. To build influence as a creator, you need people to engage with your content, so you aren’t singing to crickets.
1. Create valuable content
Valuable content shares unique insights in a fun and relatable way. People are more likely to engage with your content when it teaches them something new, and doesn’t just regurgitate existing information in a way that’s been done before.
Quality content doesn’t need to look ultra sophisticated or be made with the most expensive equipment. Adeoye believes that the TikTok videos that perform the best are ones that look unedited and authentic.
“You have to understand that TikTok is mostly for the Gen Zs and, trust me, many of us are not interested in YouTube-like quality videos,” she says.
“Most of my best-performing videos, ones with over 2 million views, are very random,” Adeoye notes. “No matter what message I’m sharing on TikTok — productivity, finance, or career-related stuff — I try to make my videos as laid-back and relatable as possible.”
Instead of fussing over expensive video creation equipment, focus on nailing these two things:
Understand your audience’s pain points
Your videos should be relevant to the needs of your target audience.
People want to see specific things from specific creators. For example, The Leap’s followers expect to find creator tips on our TikTok page. If there’s no alignment between what your audience wants to see and the content you put out, they won’t engage with it.
So, how do you find out what your audience wants to see? The simple answer is to ask them!
One way to take your audience’s pulse is to poll them on their content preferences. If you don’t have any followers yet, you can check out the types of videos other creators in your niche are making.
Use attention-grabbing hooks
Your hook determines whether the viewer will swipe past your video really fast or watch it until the end and engage with it.
TikTok is a sea of content. When your video pops up on someone’s For You page, it has only a few seconds to make an impression before the viewer moves right to the next one.
The first 3 seconds of your video should grab a viewer’s attention. If it’s a dance video, get right into the moves. If it’s an educational video, ask an interesting question or share a surprising fact. Don’t waste any time — let people see the value of your content immediately.
This video by Miss Excel is an excellent example of capturing attention with a great hook. The first things you see is the on-screen text “Label 10,000 rows in 8 seconds!?” and a screenshot of an Excel spreadsheet. This tells the viewer that they’re about to learn how to automate labeling rows on Excel.
2. Engage with others
You get what you give. If you want people to engage with your content, engage with theirs first.
Like, comment, and repost content from other creators that you find interesting. By doing this, you’ll get on their radar; someone might check out your TikTok page or repost one of your videos simply because you dropped a comment or liked their content.
Also, acknowledge people who engage with your videos. Like and respond to their comments to encourage them to keep interacting with your content in the future. This is also how you start building a community on TikTok.
3. Encourage conversations with your captions and video descriptions
Your video captions should invite your audience to share their opinions on the topic at hand, which drives organic engagement.
The best way to do this is to write open-ended descriptions. For example, after sharing our top Pinterest trends for 2023 in this video, we asked our audience which trend resonates most with them in the comments section, and we received over 300 comments!
If you jumped on a dance challenge, ask your audience to rate your performance. Or, if you share a hack, ask them whether they’ll be trying it out or whether they know of an alternative hack that leads to the same result.
4. Prioritize accessibility
Accessibility means that people with disabilities can engage with your videos as easily as non-disabled people. Creating accessible videos is a great way to expand your content’s reach and drive engagement from a diverse community of TikTok users.
TikTok has built-in features that allow you to create accessible videos. Specifically:
- The text-to-speech feature converts text to a voiceover that plays over the text as it appears in the video.
- Auto captions automatically generate subtitles, allowing viewers with hearing impairments to read along with your video content.
- Photosensitive epilepsy warning notifies you when you add certain video effects that can negatively affect viewers with photosensitive epilepsy.
You can find all these features in the video upload tab.
Don’t forget to experiment!
At the end of the day, there isn’t a single tried-and-true formula for “hacking” or outsmarting the constantly evolving TikTok algorithm.
Your best bet is to stay on top of the algorithm changes and experiment with different tips until you find what works best for your account and your audience.
Want to get more visibility for your TikTok videos? Download our free TikTok SEO Cheat Sheet.