The Chinese social video app Tik Tok is a new shining star in the social media cosmos. More and more companies are discovering the potential of the network. But how does the Tik-Tok algorithm actually work? We’ll explain it to you.

The idea behind Tik Tok is actually very simple: users record videos of 15 seconds and add music and small effects to their clips and choreographies.

And it’s so easy and fun that more and more new users are downloading the app to their smartphones. The app has been downloaded 1.2 billion times worldwide. This puts the video app in third place behind WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger among the most downloaded apps.

But how does the Tik-Tok algorithm work and which indicators play an important role in it?

To understand the Tik Tok engine room, let’s consider who is behind Tik Tok – the China-based technology company Bytedance.

This company is known as a leading provider of artificial intelligence, which Bytedance uses to operate machine-learning content platforms. Bytedance also lets the acquired competences flow into Tik Tok and thus shows which paths other social media networks will also take.

The Tik-Tok algorithm: How the recommendation system works

Users of the app know it: When Tik Tok opens, the “For You” feed is presented. This video stream is individually tailored to the interests of each user and is based on a sophisticated recommendation system.

There are three essential factors that determine the user’s personal feed.

1. user interactions

As with other platforms, the Tik Tok algorithm takes into account likes and shares. The decisive factor here is also which accounts the user follows and vice versa. Comments as well as the type of post – for example a dance interlude to a song – also play an important role.

2. video information

If a user uses certain hashtags, clip descriptions or even individual sound effects and songs in his video, the algorithm incorporates this data in its evaluation.

3. device and settings

Although this information is not critical to whether or not a post is displayed in the “For You” feed, the app does collect it. The language used, current location, and even the type of smartphone used are all that determines how the app delivers content to its users.

It’s safe to say that the Tik-Tok algorithm is not that different from its counterparts on other networks and platforms. The key word here is also interaction.

These factors structure your “for you” feed

In addition, there are some other data and signals that Tik Tok measures and feeds into its algorithm. This has been confirmed by the platform itself.

If a user watches a video clip until the end, the platform will of course reward this positively. The Tik-Tok algorithm also evaluates the weighting of individual factors.

In comparison, it is less important if the creator uploads his video in the country of the viewer or user. Instead, the user’s length of stay is more decisive for the algorithm.

When a user calls up the app for the first time, Tik Tok presents him or her with different categories such as countries, destinations or fashion to find out about their personal preferences. In this way, the platform then manages to present interesting content with a certain probability.

If the user then interacts with the posts played to him or her, Tik Tok can build its future recommendations on this and play out even better content that is of interest to him or her. So the feed is gradually evolving.

Search queries are just as essential for the algorithm. It is thus possible that new categories and thus unknown clips appear in the “For You” feed. Tik Tok strives to present users with varied content. It doesn’t matter how many followers the Creator has.

We can therefore record: At this point Tik Tok acts differently than Facebook, Twitter, etc. Even for small accounts it is possible to build up reach quickly because of this system.

What companies need to bear in mind with the Tik-Tok algorithm

It is important for brands and companies to keep an eye on the activity and commitment of users. In the back of their minds should be anchored that Tik Tok checks every single video and evaluates individually whether the content really fits into the user’s feed and their search intention.

In his Insights, Tik Tok himself gives brands and companies far-reaching tips on how to best accommodate their own algorithm.

For example, the network says that the virality of a video alone is not enough to achieve a wide reach in the Tik-Tok community for a correspondingly long time.

Instead, brands should focus on current topics. To grab attention, creators should pick up on current trends and consider how it can help them create interaction with their users.

Likewise, their own content should always be created to keep users’ attention permanently high – right up to the end of the clip.