Explaining TikTok’s Algorithm and Making it Work in Your Favour


TikTok’s self-identified mission is to promote joy and creativity on its platform and among its user base by developing and sharing content covering a large area of subjects.

The community creates, and later shares with the others, and the For You page is in charge of customising the experience and making it altogether more personal.

The stream of videos you can access here is based on your specific interests, meaning you have an easier time finding the newest videos posted by the creators you love and follow, as well as discovering other similar ones that you might be interested in. 

The curating process improves the more you use the app, and you get more freshly curated videos as a result. But what exactly is the system behind the app?

How does the algorithm work, and is there a sure way to use it that will enable you to boost your following and go viral? Let’s have a look at the specifics. 

Feed curating 

New TikTok users are invited to select all categories that interest them, such as travel, cooking, pets, fashion or books. The app then develops the initial feed, refining recommendations based on the videos the users later interact with.

Engaging with videos on a regular basis allows videos to become more personalised, so every single like counts. The comments and replays also play an essential role and enable the system to learn more about your preferences. 

Following accounts, going through the hashtags, trending topics, and sounds further refine your feed. If you come across a video you’re not keen on, you can flag it as not for you, and you can also hide specific creators or sounds.

Variation is also essential, so the feed regularly provides you with different content types. This way, you don’t just see the things you like but can also explore new subjects. 

Achieving success 

So, is there anything you can actually do if you want to become more popular on TikTok? The good news is that the app doesn’t really discriminate based on follower count, so you don’t need a large fanbase to have a high-performing video.

Nevertheless, the accounts with more followers will typically get more significant numbers of views, which is why many look to buy TikTok followers. Add to that the creation of relevant content that would work well with your target audience, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success. 

Any content that is deemed inappropriate contains nudity, or is overtly explicit is either removed from feeds or not recommended in For You pages. Content must be original, so avoid making anything purely for clickbait or which is unoriginal and involves spam.

The videos should also not undermine the platform’s integrity in any way. Reuploading content without making it clear that it’s not yours and misleading information are not just bad practices. They can be downright harmful or triggering for other users. 

Videos promoting shock value may also be unavailable for recommendation simply because they might upset viewers. This includes any content that’s potentially distressing or violent.

Any comment created by account owners under sixteen will also not be eligible for the For You page or search results recommendations. All of the rules were designed to help protect the well-being of all community members and ensure that nobody is in danger because of something they see or hear on TikTok. 

Going viral 

Viral TikTok trends have often made the news and even the people who don’t know spend a lot of time browsing through the app to learn about them. Early noughties tunes create hype again, sound synching with specific themes, and the different “core” trends are well-known to many. For example, September saw the rise of gorpcore, a fashion trend embracing outdoor activity clothing as streetwear.

The most popular items include puffer jackets, fleeces, and walking boots. Some have even started including it in interior design. Gorpcore follows the craze surrounding Barbiecore and Balletcore, which have been popular over the past few years.

Cottagecore was all the rage during the early days of the pandemic. Dark academia re-emerged around the same time after being created and popularised on Tumblr in the mid-2010s. Other popular trends of this month include the Grandma/Grandpa old photo trend and the Roman Empire trend. 

That’s the power of TikTok on pop culture. However, there’s no single magic ingredient that will make you famous on the platform. The system is too sophisticated for that. One of the most important aspects is that TikTok doesn’t wait for users to indicate that they like a particular video by leaving a thumbs up. 

This is a crucial innovation compared to the older algorithms. Instead, it uses prediction technology to determine what content it thinks would be enjoyable for you and then gather more data based on your responses. The ways in which you engage with the videos on the For You page are monitored, so you’ll get to see videos on similar topics in the future. 

Every video posted on YouTube will appear in someone’s recommendations. That means that, theoretically, every single user has a chance to become famous on the platform. Even if you don’t have many followers, you’ll eventually reach someone’s For You page and gradually start amassing views and boosting engagement rates. 

The algorithm is so good, in fact, that it can also leave messages when it discovers users who have spent too much time on the app. In June 2022, TikTok announced that it would begin sending its users regular reminders in a bid to curb internet and smartphone addiction. Known as well-being digital tools, these features aim to help TikTok users develop and maintain a positive, wholesome relationship with the app. 

Additional data 

Besides direct engagement, video information and user interactions, TikTok uses device and account settings to optimise performance and deliver a more customised experience. They don’t have as much influence on how the app will appear to you, but they add up to the final result. Some of these settings include: 

  • Language and country: You are more likely to see content from people living in the same region or speaking the same language. 
  • The type of device you use when navigating TikTok 
  • Any categories of interest that you selected when you were a new user

The app will no longer recommend the content you’ve already watched and engaged with, as well as any video thought to be spam or created simply to increase traffic artificially. Anything that’s potentially upsetting will also be flagged accordingly. For instance, medical procedures and other potentially graphic content are marked, and you’ll receive a warning before viewing. 

TikTok remains the most popular app in the world in 2023. This is no surprise since it has dominated consumer preferences for a while now. Understanding how it works will also give you a more positive browsing experience and increase your chances of going viral someday.