The Ins and Outs of TikTok’s Algorithm

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Having reached officially reached global fame in 2020, TikTok’s continued user-base has not stopped increasing. It is now more than just a proverbial pretty face among social media platforms. A large part of that has to do with its unique algorithm, which has been suggested to be the primary cause of its success.

The average age range of users is between 13 and 35 years old, though most of the content is geared toward the younger side of that spectrum. With its popularity from Generation Z and the results of the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall number of users hit approximately 28 million by March of 2020. TikTok has since broken the record for the most downloaded app, just short of 2 billion downloads.

TikTok’s Content

The type of content on TikTok is limited to videos between 5 seconds and 1 minute long. The most popular videos tend to fall in the areas of dance, lip-syncing, hacks (i.e., life, beauty, DIY, etc.), and music. In fact, music is heavily utilized in the app. It was previously known as before getting rebranded to TikTok.

Duet and React are some of the most used features on the app. However, the one that sits above all the others is the use of a user’s For You tab. Unlike the Following tab, the For You tab suggests videos by users a person doesn’t follow. The videos may or may not be relevant to previously viewed videos. This is part of TikTok’s algorithm.

TikTok’s ‘Secret Formula’: The Algorithm

The daily average time users spend on TikTok has surpassed the average for users on YouTube. It is, however, in close running with Facebook and Instagram. TikTok’s algorithm is based around two big features—the Following and For You tabs. These are where users spend the most time.

But what is TikTok’s secret for being at the top of the social media ladder?

It cuts down on the user’s inner debate about what content to watch next. The algorithm on TikTok automatically plays the next video so to attract a user’s attention and keep them on the app. As far as what videos make it to a person’s For You tab, many elements factor into that. These can include:

  • Previous watch times (how long users have spent watching the entire video)
  • Amount and/or frequency of video shares
  • Date of publishing the video
  • Followings of the video’s creator

Beyond the Individual Creators

While TikTok mostly attracts individual creators, brands have begun to utilize the app when marketing to consumers and connecting with the community. Additionally, the content being produced on the app is so widely varied, users can find videos on any type of topic. They can connect with like-minded people or transition into something new.

For an app to be continuously flexible like this and function with a system designed to maintain attention, TikTok has created a completely unique experience. In a world that thrives on those ‘fresh experiences,’ it means the app will be around for a while.