What Is the TikTok Algorithm? Factors that Affect the System

Have you ever wondered what is the TikTok algorithm? With its increasing popularity, it is understandable that users want to understand how the algorithm works in order to get (more visibility). The algorithm itself may sound (and seem) mysterious and complex. It may be too technical and confusing.

But don’t let such a thing distract or disturb you. Thanks to TikTok team and their revelation on how the system works, you can get more visibility by understanding the overall mechanism. Through the combination of music, location, choices, hashtags, and even likes, these things can affect the algorithm.


Why Algorithm Is Crucial?

Why Algorithm Is Crucial


What’s the fuss with the algorithm, anyway? Why do you have to bother yourself with the question ‘What is the TikTok algorithm’? Understanding algorithm is crucial for business and brand. To get more engagement (as well as to expose the brand to the world), it would be helpful to know what kind of algorithm is used within the platform. What aspects affect the algorithm? How does it work?


The Situation

Through their recent press statement, TikTok has described how the feed for #ForYou has been personalized and calibrated – for every single account. You see, For You section would be the most popular (as well as the best) place to find the new and also best contents. Users previously suspected and assumed that For You has been curated through location, profile, and likes.

However, it turns out that TikTok has stated that For You is about each user’s unique preferences. The platform is able to recommended contents by ranking the videos through various factors, including the things you like and you dislike. In general, the system would rank the videos through:

  • User interactions. This includes accounts (you follow), contents you make, videos you share (or like), and comments you make
  • Video information. It generally includes smallest details, such as sounds, hashtags, and captions
  • Account and device settings. It includes country setting, device type, and language preference

Based on these factors, the recommendation system would weight on each factor individually. It means that every For You section would be extremely unique to each user – and also their interest level. One of the most obvious examples is when a user watches a longer video – from the beginning to the end. It is a strong and solid indicator.

But then again, most businesses and people who want to become popular often believe that they need thousands of followers to become viral. According to TikTok, it isn’t necessarily so. It’s true that accounts with more followers (meaning that they will have bigger follower base) will have more views. But TikTok has stated that the follower count will be the direct factor within the recommendation system.

The same also applies to accounts with (previous) high-performing videos. What does it mean? How does it implement on what is the TikTok algorithm? It means that even if you have never posted before, or if you have zero followers, your videos can still appear within other users’ For You section.


Making Use of TikTok Algorithm

Again, once you understand what is the TikTok algorithm, it can be beneficial for you. Whether you are a creator, a business, or a brand, you can ‘manage’ and arrange your contents to get more comments, likes, and views.

Making Use of TikTok Algorithm


If you have more views, you can have better engagement to the audience and ‘promote’ your brand. There are 6 different factors that will affect the algorithm. What are they?



Hashtags may not be the number one factor that determines the success or the viral of a content. However, it may help you find the trending hashtags – as well as checking the hashtags’ performance. If you want to know the ones being trending or popular, simply look for fire icon that is located next to the hashtags.

The platform allows the users learn about hashtags, as well as the views each hashtag get. The most common examples are #jamsessions, #learnfromme, or #albumlookalike.

If you want to have better brand engagement, perform researches of what hashtags are trending. Think how you can incorporate it to your brand and your contents.

Be aware, though, as you can’t just add hashtags to your contents, especially if they aren’t related. If you include trending hashtags to your contents and they are unrelated, this can backfire seriously.


(TikTok) Captions

TikTok is completely different from Facebook and Instagram. On the latter platforms, you can have long captions – but that’s not the case with TikTok. The ideal type is short caption with related hashtags (to the contents), complimentary and digestible for share.

Considering its nature as mobile-first platform, it’s crucial to keep the caption short to gain better results. If you want to create engaging copy, try using jokes, post something ‘mysterious’, ‘wait for..’ contents, or ask questions.

The idea is to increase engagement – being able to lead and start a conversation. When people notice your post, they should be ‘encouraged’ to make comments, which will lead to chains of conversation.


Trending Sounds and Songs

When learning about what is the TikTok algorithm, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of sounds and songs. They share similar importance as hashtags. If you are using a trending song, for instance, you should be able to have quick (and significant) bump in views and likes.

However, finding Sounds in the Discovery is tricky – it is trickier than finding the contents, topics, or themes. So, in the event that you want to find the trending Sounds or Songs, here are some tricks to help:

  • Video Editor. You can go to Video Editor and click on the plus (+) icon. And then choose ‘Sounds’ that would be on the top side of your screen. In this manner, you can see what’s trending and scroll through them.
  • When you view contents and you hear sounds you like, simply choose the sound (it should be under the username) and Add to Favorite.
  • Your Followers’ Lists. TikTok has this Analytics tab, within TikTok Pro account. Simply choose Followers tab and scroll down. You should see the lists of sounds your followers have listened to. Then you can use the list for your contents.


When Followers Are Most Active

Knowing when your followers are the most active can ensure views and seen. Again, you can make use of the Analytics tool within the Pro Accounts, so you can learn about their ‘behaviors’. A lot of users say that TikTok analytics isn’t as deep as Instagram’s, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make use of it.


Video Content and Editing

You have to admit that TikTok has unique video style. It really encourages you to push off your creative side so you can make anything you want. Here’s a theory about video content: TikTok has a seamless loop, and it can trigger the algorithm.

Let’s say that you have watched 4 times in a row or you have seen clips that are coming back again and again. It’s the platform’s unique way of saying that they are the popular contents.

TikTok would monitor this trend. The machine learning mechanism would ‘study’ about personal preferences, determining whether a video is viral or not. It doesn’t hurt to spend extra time editing the TikToks (video) so the format would be more engaging to viewers.



It is more likely that the platform is going to focus on community oriented feed, which means that they are going to serve the so-called hyper-local content.

They believe that location is one of the key factors that make videos being recommended to users. That’s why the platform has global team that enables users to confirm and explore patterns – and it is useful to serve the location-based contents.

In the end, those are the crucial elements that affect the algorithm in TikTok. You may have to perform deeper research concerning what is the TikTok algorithm and their related aspects.

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