TikTok’s Mind Reading Algorithm | Iceberg Web Design

How does TikTok determine which videos will appear on “For You” Pages? What makes a video go viral? What is the ideal video length? How often should you post?

2 Girls making a TikTok video

Here’s the Good News

According to TikTok, “neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system.” So even if you are creating your first video, there’s a chance it could go viral! But how?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

6 Factors that Influence TikTok’s Algorithm

  1.       Engagement: Likes, comments, shares, completions, and rewatches
  2.       Subject Matter: This is how TikTok organizes videos and decides who will see them. Your cat video will be shown to cat lovers.
  3.       Device Settings: Location and Language enable TikTok to show local videos to users
  4.       Audio Trends: Sounds and songs that are trending will be served to a larger audience.
  5.       Hashtags & Captions: These signal to TikTok what your video is about so TikTok can show your video to the users who most want to see that subject matter in the content they watch.
  6.       Not-Interested Feedback: If a user isn’t interested in a video, TikTok tries to figure out why to avoid showing the user other videos they don’t like in the future. Like tweaking a recipe to find the secret formula, TikTok uses previous activity to find high-interest content for each user.

The Biggest Factor in TikTok’s Algorithm

TikTok’s primary goal is to keep you watching and scrolling. The Wall Street Journal recently created one hundred automated accounts that watched hundreds of thousands of videos, revealing how the TikTok algorithm knows each user so well. [1] To summarize their findings—it all comes down to the amount of time a user spends watching a video. TikTok pays attention to this and continues to send the user more of these types of videos. Over time, TikTok’s understanding of the user’s preferences is refined.        

You Have 3 Seconds to Hook Your Audience

Your video should be easy to digest, have a seamless loop and grab the user’s attention. On-screen text or a question posed right at the beginning of the video can help hook your audience within the first three seconds.

Go #Niche

By sharing niche-related videos aimed at a specific audience or subculture, you will build a loyal fan base. TikTok will push your videos to people with similar interests, growing your audience organically. Find content for them and add industry-specific hashtags. This is how TikTok knows what your video is about.

Write an Engaging Caption

You get 150 characters for your caption, including hashtags. This is where you tell users why they should watch your video. Create curiosity!

Use On-Screen Text

A survey of U.S. consumers found that 92% viewed videos with the sound off on mobile and that 80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available. [2] So, for every video you post, use on-screen text and captions. TikTok’s automatic captions feature makes doing this simple, so there’s no excuse not to. It’s important for accessibility, and it will boost your engagement.

TikTok’s Algorithm Doesn’t Recommend These Types of Content:

  •         Potentially upsetting content such as “graphic medical procedures.”
  •         Spam
  •         Duplicated content
  •         Content, a user has previously seen

Because TikTok can be mesmerizing, all the scrolling can lead impressionable young viewers down dangerous rabbit holes. So, TikTok aggressively deletes content that violates its terms of service, such as that which promotes suicide or self-harm.

Know Which Content You Create Resonates with Your Audience

Get one of TikTok’s two types of pro accounts: Creator or Business. Either will give you access to metrics that can help you formulate a strategy.

To turn your account into a business account:

  1.       Go to your Profile Page
  2.       Tap the icon of the three dots at the top right of the screen
  3.       Tap Manage Account
  4.       Select Switch to Business Account
  5.       Choose the best category for your business.

Iceberg Web Design Is Your Marketing Partner

While we can’t make your TikTok videos for you, we can make you an exceptional website and manage your online reputation. Find out about all the web-based services we offer. Contact us today!


[1] “Inside TikTok’s Algorithm: A WSJ Video Investigation.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 26 Dec. 2021, www.wsj.com/articles/tiktok-algorithm-video-investigation-11626877477.


[2] Lafayette, Jon. “Mobile Videos Often Watched without Audio, Study Finds.” Broadcasting Cable, Broadcasting+Cable, 14 May 2019, www.nexttv.com/news/mobile-videos-often-watched-without-audio-study-finds.


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