How does the TikTok algorithm work?

Cracking the TikTok algorithm will be life changing. It could turn your content around and gain you thousands of views. All you need to know is how to handle it. TikTok is the place to go viral. If your content takes off on this platform, you’re more likely to grow your other social platforms. But, how do you achieve this?

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TikTok algorithm – what is it, and how does it work?

TikTok’s algorithm determines when and which videos appear on a user’s feed. The concept behind it is that a person will interact with videos and content they enjoy. This will then decide what other videos appear for them to watch. It is built up over time based upon the content you’re viewing. So, this also can change throughout time, if your viewing patterns and choices change.

It might be that you go through a period of watching specific content. Perhaps you’re looking at getting a puppy, and you start watching videos only of people with dogs. This will eventually build up and tell TikTok you enjoy dog videos. Then, you will naturally start seeing more and more dog content appear on your feed. Maybe you later on switch to watching videos about another hobby or interest. TikTok will pick up on this and start showing you content based upon your new interests.

Keeping your attention

Just like any social media platform, TikTok want to keep their users. If they left us all to it with no idea how to find content specific to our likes, then they would possibly start to see a decline in users. It all used to be a bit of a secret as to how social platforms worked and more importantly how their algorithms supported them. However, now, they’re much more open because they know users enjoy knowing the ins and outs of the social world.

The idea is the system keeps content new and fresh. No one wants to click on the app and see the same videos always on repeat. It would become stale and boring fairly quickly. Instead, people want to see new and inviting videos that keep our attention hooked. It’s a win-win, users are happy and so are TikTok because more and more people are flocking to their app. There are however various ranking points for TikTok’s algorithm. Keep reading if you want to learn more about these…


First up we have interactions. This is based upon how user’s interact with various accounts on TikTok. They use this information to decide what content to display on your FYP (For You Page). They will look at the following interactions:

  • Accounts you follow
  • Videos you have shared
  • Content you have liked
  • TikTok creators you have hidden
  • Videos you have commented on
  • Content you have marked as not interested
  • Videos you have reported as inappropriate
  • Competition rate (whether you watch the whole video)
  • Adverts you have clicked on through the app

This information will be compiled into their system and used to work out what content to show you next. If there is a particular theme or genre of video you are regularly engaging with, you will start to see more of it and also other content that is classed as similar. Perhaps other users with similar interests also enjoy another hobby or topic. TikTok may decide to try these types of videos for your account to see if you also like them. If there are themes you really dislike and are constantly ignoring or reporting, they will stop showing these to you. Remember TikTok want to please their users. If they continue to show you content you find offensive, they run the risk of losing you.

Video content

By this we don’t mean the clothes and products people are wearing or using within their videos. Video content relates to the information that is put into the overall upload. It isn’t just the theme or genre of what the TikTok creator is discussing, but also how they choose to caption their videos. The following information gets collected:

  • Hashtags
  • Sounds
  • Captions
  • Effects
  • Trending topics

If a TikTok creator is talking about dogs (yes we keep mentioning them) then they’re likely to include hashtags within their caption that relate to this theme. Other dog lovers may click on these hashtags to find more videos relating to that topic. TikTok will then pick up on this and start showing you content from these hashtag choices. The same goes for trending topics, effects and sounds. It’s no secret once one person starts dancing along to a specific song on TikTok, it spreads really quickly. Suddenly everyone is having a go and if you’re engaging with that content a lot, you’ll see more like it.

Account settings

TikTok uses settings to improve the performance of the app. They are based upon a personal preference rather than engagements. This means they don’t have as much control over the things you will see as the points above. However, it is still important to note the things that do get taken into account.

  • Language
  • Country settings
  • The mobile you are on
  • Categories you have selected as an interest

It’s important to be aware that these features do get taken into account for TikTok’s algorithm. The country and language preference are of course really important. It doesn’t make sense for TikTok to share content from countries where you don’t speak the language. This is more likely to put users off the app. Instead, they take into consideration where you are based when finding you content you might like. The categories you have selected as interests will become less useful over time, because the videos you select to watch will take over the algorithm. However, at the start these categories will play a huge part in the content you’re shown.

What does the TikTok algorithm not take into account?

While many things do contribute to TikTok’s algorithm, there are also many things that don’t. TikTok do have their policies in place and any content which is deemed unacceptable won’t be featured on the FYP, whether it may be relevant to your topic choices or not. Here are some examples of content which will not be included:

  • Content that could be spam
  • Duplicated videos
  • Sensitive content

TikTok won’t display any content that could be harmful on their FYP. This doesn’t mean there is no content on their platform of this nature. After all, in some cases what some people find upsetting, others perhaps find educates on various topics. Whichever way it is viewed, it will not be allowed within the algorithm. Anything that could be spam content won’t be viewed within it either. Sometimes people may feel the algorithm is working against them, but TikTok simply have strong policies to try and protect the interest of their users and creators.

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