7 Ways to Make the TikTok Algorithm Work for Your Posts

August 29, 2022
TikTok algorithm update: woman using her phone

The TikTok algorithm updates are mysterious, but we have general pointers about how it ranks content. Use these seven tips to set up your posts for success.

It might seem like TikTok magically chooses what you see on your For You Page (FYP), but a lot of data goes into what content you see first on the platform. On the social network platform, a lot happens on the back-end to customize each user’s experience. 

But TikTok algorithm updates threaten the hard-won mindshare you’ve earned on the platform. Since the algorithm chooses who sees your content, creators need to make the most out of their TikTok content by hacking the algorithm. 

While the TikTok algorithm updates daily, here’s what we do know about how you can give each video its best chance at winning more views.

How the TikTok Algorithm Works

TikTok algorithm update: influencer recording a video on make up tutorial

The TikTok algorithm is a recommendation system that delivers content based on what TikTok users are likely interested in. It’s the reason why TikTok is so successful: The algorithm ensures your feed is hyper-customized to whatever you’re interested in right now, but it’s flexible enough to keep up with the topics you want to see. 

Now, the TikTok algorithm updates almost daily, so while we don’t have details on this specific update, there are several best practices creators should follow to make the most out of the platform. 

The entire purpose of the TikTok algorithm is to keep users on the platform as long as possible. To do that, the algorithm ranks creators’ content based on several factors. 

Now, what the factors are and how much TikTok weighs them is technically a secret. But based on what TikTok has revealed about its algorithm, we can confidently say that the most important factors are: 

  • User behavior: TikTok user engagement is a big ranking factor for the TikTok algorithm because it indicates interest. Likes, comments, shares, video completion rates, and favorites all play into rankings.  
  • Video information: Since TikTok’s algorithm can’t “see” your video content, it relies on the data tied to your video to rank your content. This includes information like keywords in your captions, trending hashtags, and trending sounds.
  • User settings: Account settings aren’t a huge ranking factor, but they still matter. A user’s country setting, language preference, and device type factor into the content they see. This means users in China will see more content from Chinese creators while users in the U.S. will see more content from content creators in their state or city. 
  • Negative feedback: If TikTok users are not interested in a certain topic or creator — maybe they skip through or hide a video — that counts as negative engagement. This could decrease your odds of ranking well on the FYP.

Keep in mind that these factors don’t weigh equally. For example, commenting on a video is more important to the TikTok algorithm update than a user’s country setting. 

It’s also important to note that your follower count or previous successes don’t matter one bit to the algorithm. This is great news for new creators with small followings, but it means the TikTok algorithm demands A-plus content every time. You can’t rest on your laurels as a one-hit wonder, which means TikTok really does demand next-level content.

7 Tips to Hack the TikTok Algorithm Update

Person taking photos of textiles

Did you know that 55% of TikTok users uploaded a video in the past month? With over 1 billion active monthly users, this means you’re competing against a lot of content. 

There are no guarantees, but these seven changes to your TikTok strategy can help you work with the algorithm.

1. Pick a Niche and Stick With It

People spend an average of 95 minutes a day on TikTok. That means you have plenty of chances to show up on the FYP, but only if you can pique your audience’s interest. The best way to connect with interested viewers is to churn out content that fits their niche interests. 

As a creator, you need to pick a niche and stick with it. So, if you’re a recipe TikTokker, don’t suddenly start posting beauty tips. The TikTok algorithm wants you to stick in your lane because it funnels users to your content based on niche interests.

2. Always Add Keywords to Your Captions

Seventy-five percent of people keep their phones muted during the day. Chances are that people watch your content while their phones are on silent, so they’ll need captions to understand your content. 

Captions are also a great play for gaming the TikTok algorithm update, which uses keywords in your captions to identify what your content is about. 

You only have 300 characters available for captions, but try to load your captions with relevant keywords. The algorithm uses this text to categorize your content in the algorithm, so if you’re a dog trainer, aim for caption keywords like “dog training tips” or “basic commands”.

By the way, TikTok can auto-generate captions for you if you’re in a hurry. Just remember to double-check them for accuracy before you post.

3. Don’t Forget Your Hashtags

If you’re sleeping on TikTok hashtags, you could miss out on a lot of views. In fact, in June of 2020, entertainment hashtags got a whopping 535 billion views. Like keywords in your captions, the TikTok algorithm relies on hashtags to know what your content is about.

Unlike Instagram hashtags, less is more on TikTok. It’s best to stick with three to five hashtags, so stick with the best hashtags for the job.

But don’t toss in high-profile hashtags if they don’t apply to your video. Relevant hashtags will connect you with the right audience for your content — and misusing big-name hashtags to bolster your views is sure to tick people off. After all, viewers will find it jarring if you label your TikTok with #BeautyTips but you’re actually cooking lasagna.

4. Post Rewatch-worthy Content

Around 50% of TikTok users say videos longer than one minute are stressful. TikTok users are on the go, so it’s no wonder why 25% of the highest-performing TikToks are just 21 to 34 seconds long.

So, why is short content better? Rewatches count as an indicator of user interest to the TikTok algorithm, so the higher your video completion rates and rewatch rates, the better you’ll do on Tiktok. 

It isn’t easy encouraging folks to stick around and watch videos several times. Follow these quick tips to create binge-worthy content: 

  • Create short videos on a loop: Smooth loops encourage rewatches because users don’t realize they’ve watched a three-second video five times already. 
  • Keep people around until the end: Adding captions like “Wait until the end” or “Wait for it” might seem clickbait-y, but they encourage people to watch all the way through. Of course, make it worth their time. Only tell people to stick around if something funny, jaw-dropping, or amazing is just around the corner.
  • Try new content ideas: It’s important to stick with your niche, but that doesn’t mean you have to rehash the same content over and over again. Try new types of content like Stitching or Dueting with other creators, taking on a challenge, following a meme, creating how-to or tutorials, or sharing before-and-afters.
  • Add trending sounds: Eighty-eight percent of TikTok users say sound is essential to their experience on the platform, so don’t overlook the power of audio. Add trending music and sounds to your content — they engage users and increase your chances of gaining more views, too.
  • Find your best post times: Everyone will swear they know the best time to post on TikTok. This will differ based on your content and followers, but you should experiment with different options to see what works best. When in doubt, post once daily during a time when you know your target audience is using TikTok.

5. Reply to Comments

TikTok likes videos with lots of comments because they indicate viewer interest. So, if you want to game the algorithm, you’ll need to encourage comments on your videos. 

“I’ll go first”-style videos encourage commenters to share their own stories or opinions. But ending each video with a specific question or call to action (CTA) can also do the trick.

Whatever kind of content you post, try to reply to every comment. This boosts the engagement rate on your videos and encourages commenters to continue the conversation.

6. Sign Up for a TikTok Business Account

TikTok Business Accounts (previously known as TikTok Pro Accounts) give you access to key content metrics.

Why does that matter? Because without analytics, you have no idea how your content is performing. 

With this type of TikTok account, you can see what does well after a TikTok algorithm update. No matter how well you think you know your followers, you’ll find helpful nuggets of wisdom when you dive into your analytics. 

Anyone can sign up for a free TikTok Business account. Just visit the Settings and Privacy section of your profile and tap “Switch To Business Account.”

Bonus Tip: Build Your Following Beyond TikTok

Look, we love TikTok, but it presents a conundrum for creators. TikTok owns your audience and your content, so if TikTok disappears overnight, you’ve lost your entire livelihood. 

This is why you need to own the relationship you have with your followers. Try fostering relationships outside of TikTok by creating a microsite for your TikTok link-in-bio. A microsite from Hype will help you collect follower contact information so you can easily foster all of your relationships at scale — even if TikTok disappears.

Plan for Future TikTok Algorithm Updates

The good news is that TikTok has one of the best engagement rates of any social media platform at 17.99%. But if you want to get a bigger slice of engagement, you’ll have to work with the TikTok algorithm updates. TikTok keeps its lips sealed about its algorithm, but you can definitely get ahead by: 

  • Sticking to your niche
  • Adding captions
  • Adding hashtags
  • Building a following with Hype
  • Posting rewatchable content
  • Replying to comments
  • Switching to a TikTok Business Account

Algorithms change on an almost daily basis, so keep in mind that these best practices will definitely change over time. Trends come and go and TikTok will keep evolving, so stay on top of future TikTok algorithm updates to remain relevant on the social platform.