If you’re frustrated with the TikTok algorithm and a lack of views right now, we get it.
Given the ever-changing trends and tons of new content posted to TikTok daily, standing out from the crowd is daunting.
Don’t get discouraged, though. Just taking the time to understand the TikTok algorithm and how the platform’s recommendation system works can definitely get more eyeballs on your content.
And thankfully, many of the most impactful steps to extend your reach are actually pretty simple.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how the TikTok algorithm works and what you can do to boost your engagement ASAP.
What is the TikTok Algorithm (and How Does it Work)?
Before we get into the good stuff, let’s break down how TikTok works.
The TikTok algorithm determines how the platform recommends videos, including those in its “For you” feed. In short, the algorithm serves videos and determines trends based on a variety of ranking factors including interactions, timeliness, and relevance.
Social media algorithms are complex but they’re not total mysteries. Most social platforms provide users with clues into how they serve content and the same rings true for TikTok.
Heck, Tiktok themselves have been surprisingly transparent about how their recommendation system works. In short, the TikTok algorithm ranks, promotes, and recommends content based on the following factors:
- User interactions and engagement (think: likes and comments)
- # of shares
- Watch time (think: the percentage of videos that are completed or almost completed)
6 Strategies to Take Advantage of the TikTok Algorithm
Based on how TikTok recommends videos, fine-tuning your content strategy and “feeding” the algorithm what it wants is easier than you might think. Below are six tips to keep in mind as you create content for TikTok.
1. Publish Videos Consistently (and When Your Audience is Most Active)
Although this might seem like a no-brainer, consistency counts.
Again, there’s so much content published to TikTok that the idea of going viral or getting picked up by the algorithm might seem like a longshot.
That said, you can’t just post at random and expect results.
The good news is that TikTok users are spending more and more time on the platform per day, signaling that brands absolutely shouldn’t be shy about upping their publishing frequency. This is especially true if you’re in a competitive industry or want to rank among top-tier tags.
How often should you post, though? Creators and TikTok influencers can absolutely publish daily (if not multiple times per day). Brands can do the same, but perhaps every other day is a more reasonable frequency if you need more turnaround time for your creatives and deliverables. Either way, don’t’ sacrifice quality for quantity as you ramp up your content strategy.
Another critical component of standing out in the TikTok algorithm is when you publish your content. Luckily, TikTok’s native analytics actually let you know firsthand when your followers are more engaged.
This means you’re able to set your posts up for more engagement based on actual data. Assessing the peaks and valleys in your Follower activity, you can publish content with a sense of confidence.
There has likewise been plenty of third-party research regarding the best times to post on TikTok (see Oberlo’s breakdown below). While these recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt, they’re definitely worth experimenting with.
2. Publish Shorter, Punchier Videos to Boost Your Watch Time
It’s no secret that TikTok is built around short-form content.
Sticking to the shorter side (~15 seconds) of TikTok’s video length limit is a smart way to ensure your videos are viewed to completion. This serves as a positive signal to the TikTok algorithm, highlighting that users are eager to watch your content completely.
Of course, not all of your video content needs to be 15 seconds or less. Integrating shorter videos into your content strategy is a good idea regardless. Considering that TikTok by default encourages users to tap through and browse content, anything you can to do appeal to users with bite-sized attention spans is a plus.
Piggybacking on the previous tip, it takes some trial-and-error to figure out what works for the TikTok algorithm. When in doubt, peek your analytics and see if videos with shorter average watch times are your top-performers. If you can get to a point where your videos are consistently hitting 70%-80% completion regardless, you’re golden.
3. Make a Conscious Effort to Comment and Respond to Others
This is perhaps the lowest-hanging way to rise in the TikTok algorithm.
No surprises here: all social media platforms thrive on interactions between users and TikTok plays by the same rules.
Commenting on and liking videos yourself is a quick, low-effort way to get more eyes on your content. Again, the idea here isn’t to spam but rather to participate in discussions and TikTok communities related to your industry.
Oh, and don’t forget to reply to comments on your own account. This not only lets people know that you’re listening to them, but can create a sense of community in your comments section over time.
Consider also that you can encourage engagements and comments within your own TikTok content via descriptions and captions. Although you don’t want to do this for every video (hint: it can feel like engagement bait), it’s an effective way to build hype in a series of posts.
4. Format Your Content to Make it as Share-Friendly as Possible
Gaining traction with the TikTok algorithm is about so much more than just creating “good” content. So much of expanding your reach is making your content as easy to share as possible.
How so? You need to do everything you can to make your posts enticing at a glance. That means coming up with an enticing headline or click-worthy premise for your video that immediately grabs your audience’s attention.
Next, double-check that your video preview isn’t a default screencap. Make sure to showcase a must-see scene or use captions to hook your viewers and let ‘em know what they’re about to see.
And of course, take full advantage of your captions! This process is much easier now that TikTok added auto-captions themselves.
Consider that the majority of people watch videos without sound and are more likely to engage with videos that feature captions. Additionally, captions make your content more accessible to any and all viewers. Putting together content that doesn’t require sound to be entertaining might seem contradictory, but it can be some with some creativity (see below).
5. Harness the Power of Hashtags (and Don’t Waste Your Descriptions)
Like most other social networks, descriptions and hashtags definitely play into TikTok’s algorithm. Being aware of relevant tags and keywords related to your brand should be pretty straightforward.
Hashtags do double duty of making your content more searchable while also signaling to viewers what your content is about at a glance.
There’s plenty of debate over how many hashtags you should include in any given post. For example, Later recommends up to eight while content creators on /r/TikTokhelp say that between four and five is the sweet spot.
Just keep in mind that including too many hashtags can obscure your video and description, so maybe err on the side of “less is more.”
We’ve said it a million already, but experimenting to key to figuring out the “right” volume. Familiarizing yourself with relevant industry tags alongside trending, front-page topics that could inspire new content. Then, track the tags that get you the most traction.
6. Pay Close Attention to Your TikTok Analytics
The common thread between all of these tips regarding the TikTok algorithm?
You need to experiment and assess your numbers to figure out what’s working and what isn’t.
Because TikTok’s analytics platform does a brilliant job of spelling out your top-performing content, you can easily take your data and translate to your content strategy. Here are some key metrics and data points to pay attention to:
- The videos that receive the most shares
- Which of your videos are being picked up by the TikTok algorithm and recommended via the “For You” feed
- Which videos result in the most engagement, views, and followers
Note: these are the same sort of analytics that TikTok influencers need to bring to the table to prove their engagement numbers. In many cases, less established brands on TikTok benefit from working with influencers who’ve already mastered the platform rather than starting from scratch themselves.
From here, you can uncover common threads between your top-performing content. For example, you might find that captioned videos score way more engagement than those without ‘em. Or maybe your shorter-form videos are consistently getting watched all the way through while your longer TikToks are underperforming.
Either way, spotting these trends is a must-do. This process will continuously help you improve and refine your content strategy, making sure you give the TikTok algorithm what it wants.
What Are You Doing to Rise in the TikTok Algorithm?
Standing out on TikTok doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Understanding the ins and outs of the TikTok algorithm means that you’re consistently producing content that sticks to the platform’s best practices. Hopefully this guide can help you do exactly that.