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Understanding the TikTok algorithm? This is how to keep track!

How does a TikTok go viral and what is essential in the process?

At first, the TikTok algorithm is a real mystery. Nevertheless, it is important to keep track and understand how TikToks go viral and what is the goal of the fastest growing social media platform.

Why is TikTok so popular and successful?

In recent years and months, the social media platform TikTok has experienced a meteoric rise. There have rarely been so many downloads of an app, and the video platform is enjoying ever greater popularity. But how does it achieve the success that keeps so many users glued to their “screens” for hours on end? In this article, we will go into some important points of this phenomenon, which will shed light on what makes TikTok tick.

Basically, the short video app is quite simple. Users can intuitively find their way around it. After downloading the app, videos are played in just a few seconds, which seem to get better and more interesting with each subsequent video. And that is no coincidence. TikTok has a sophisticated system that knows how to play the most interesting and relevant clips to its users. The result is that you always want to see the next video and find yourself in a seemingly endless loop that never stops and always has the next video ready.

The heart of TikTok is an algorithm

Which videos run or are displayed on TikTok is no coincidence. While any TikTok user can upload a video, that doesn’t mean it will end up being seen by many people. But why is that? The answer to this is quite simple and has something to do with a mathematical formula. This formula is also called an algorithm. An algorithm is a mathematical process that consists of many steps and leads to the solution of complex arithmetic problems that do not only have to have numbers as a result. It can also be used to bring about certain decisions, the outcome of which is based on the corresponding algorithm. For example, when deciding which clips meet TikTok’s quality standards and are therefore played to many users.

There are many myths surrounding the TikTok algorithm. But why is it so important to understand the principle behind TikTok? This question can be answered with a counter question. What do you use TikTok for? If you are using the social media platform TikTok for entertainment alone, then you are predominantly interested in watching videos that are relevant to you. If you are on TikTok for a company, then you have an increased interest in making as many users as possible aware of your profile. They should see your videos and get to know the company or be informed about relevant products or services. For creators and influencers, views and engagement rates are very important. If they make good and appealing videos, this leads to better numbers and they can win more interesting collaborations for themselves. This means that everything revolves around being allowed to present one’s videos to as many TikTok users as possible. But the decision about this is solely up to TikTok.

How does the TikTok algorithm work?

For companies, success on social media has become an essential factor. As a rule, it is easiest to reach your target group on social media. This is because the corresponding algorithm of the respective platform reliably recognizes who it is about and which content should be displayed to the corresponding users. With regard to TikTok, understanding the TikTok algorithm can be not insignificant for one’s own social media marketing strategy in order to increase one’s own reach and thus generate more sales. Now, it is so that the algorithm is not simply visible to everyone or that TikTok provides a precise guide for success. In fact, TikTok usually keeps a low profile when it comes to revealing their secrets.

On the one hand, this has to do with the fact that one does not want the competition to profit from one’s own know-how, and on the other hand, changes and optimization are made to the algorithm again and again, so that it changes again and again. However, a certain scheme can be recognized over time and certain derivations can be made from it, which allow the function of the algorithm to be guessed.

1. Capture user interests

First of all, a user is asked about his or her interests after logging on to the platform. Through this query, TikTok roughly categorizes its users and can thus include corresponding clips in the shortlist.

2. Video interaction analysis

In the next step, TikTok takes a closer look at user behavior (user interactions). Which videos are watched, do they get likes, are they shared or does the user write comments on them? The user’s own videos that have been uploaded are also taken into account. The short video app then tries to show the user mainly clips that are similar to the content with which the user has previously interacted. 

3. Capture video data

TikTok checks important video information to better understand the content of the videos and to calculate the relevance for its users. In addition to the video description and hashtags, the filters, music and sounds used are also a factor for the algorithm. This enables the algorithm to classify the field of its users even more precisely and to display videos for specific target groups.

4. Accurate measurement of views 

The algorithm ranks a video better if a viewer has watched the video from beginning to end and has not scrolled further. Also, if a video has been watched a second time, this is an indication that a user has discovered something interesting in it.

5. User data

The last category does not have quite such a strong impact on the algorithm, but is additionally used to optimize the calculations. For this purpose, the user data and information are considered. Which country does the user come from, which language is used on his/her account and where is the user located? The smartphone used, which manufacturer it is, is also relevant for the social media platform.

How to make a video successful on TikTok?

If you look at these five factors as a whole, you can see a pretty good picture of how the platform categorizes its users so that it can present them with exciting and good clips. Only then do users spend a lot of time on this social network and return to it again and again. To do this, the algorithm has to hold its own against Instagram, YouTube and the like.

But just because you know your users well doesn’t mean that the platform only hosts good and exclusively relevant content. It is crucial that TikTok takes the next step and recognizes which clips are good and which are not as relevant. How does the platform go about this?

According to experts, this can be called a four-step process. After a video is posted, it goes through a process.

In the first stage, the video is shown to an audience of 300 to 500 people and the views and interaction are measured. If this is negative, the video is excluded from the further process and does not reach the next stage.

However, if the verdict is positive, the video moves on to stage two. This means that 1,000 to 5,000 users will be able to enjoy the video, and a decision will then be made as to whether it will move on to the next stage.

Stage three means an audience of 50,000 to 500,000. This is also the hot phase, where a lot is at stake. If the video succeeds in inspiring and convincing the users, it moves on to the final stage, stage four.

At level four, you can say that the video goes viral and more than 1 million users see this video and it appears permanently on the For You page. This guarantees many clicks, likes, comments and shares.

Conclusion

As you can see, the TikTok algorithm is not witchcraft, but it is also much more complex than it has been simplified here. However, if you understand the background a little better, you can consider exactly which details you need to pay attention to in your own content planning in order to design videos in such a way that they show up on TikTok in the most promising way. This will help you reach a wider audience online and expand your social media marketing with TikTok videos. If one is into content marketing and influencer marketing, then Instagram and YouTube should not be the only platforms where one’s focus lies. TikTok can have a huge effect on one’s social media presence and should definitely not be neglected.

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