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We Decoded TikTok’s Secrets, So You Don’t Have To


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1. Key Differences Between the For You Page vs the Following Page

TikTok’s algorithm is unique, because it doesn’t allow you to initially click into which videos you want to watch, as you can on YouTube. When you log in for the first time, the algorithm mostly sends you the most popular videos on the site. Based on how you react to/interact with videos, the algorithm refines your For You page – and the For You pages of people you want to see your videos.

The For You page is 100% algorithm, and the Following page is just the accounts you have manually followed. Every move you make on TikTok, from the amount of times you rewatch a video, how often you watch to the end, to who you search for, to who you comment on, affects both your For You Page and your algorithm ranking itself.

2. How TikTok Measures Engagement

In descending order of priority, TikTok uses the following factors to measure engagement.

  • Re-watches: is the same user re-watching your TikTok again and again? This is why dance videos do SO WELL on TikTok, because users are rewatching to learn the dance.
  • Video completion rate: are your TikToks being watched through to the end? You need to keep them watching for at least the first 3-5 seconds, to increase your quality rating.
  • Shares: TikTok knows content is loved when it’s shared, favorited, and/or downloaded to user camera rolls.
  • Likes/hearts: TikTok considers this the most passive way to engage with content, but it still factors in.

3. Account Authority & Grades

The TikTok algorithm assigns grades *flashback to high school pre-calculus* to all channels, based on how good it thinks a channels’ videos are. The most important factors in this grade are:

  • Your first 5 videos. Don’t use your first 5-10 videos as a content testing ground. TikTok heavily weighs the first five videos you upload, and assigns you a category from that, i.e. meme videos or makeup hacks. Every post you upload affects your grade, but none so much as those first 5.
  • The uniformity & theme(s) of your videos. Stick to a niche, especially if you’re a new TikToker. Building a core fanbase around a central theme, whether it’s duets, dances, pranks, or hacks will upgrade your account authority & ranking. When you first post on TIkTok, TikTok displays your videos to a “cold audience” of 300-500 in your niche. Based on how your videos perform there, your content will be promoted on more users’ FYP.

4. Post When Your Followers Are Most Active

Go to your Analytics tab in the TikTok app & click on Followers to get the times of day/week when your fans are most active. They’ll be more likely to click on the newest videos first (it’s what we all do, right?).

5. What Might Negatively Affect Your Ranking

If your subscriber count and engagement suddenly tank, see if you’re guilty of one of these algorithmic faux pas.

  • Using multiple accounts on the same phone: Yes, TikTok allows multiple accounts, but logging into a bunch of accounts from the same device might cause the algorithm to de-prioritize your videos.
  • Deleting videos: Most social media platforms have a short time frame where “native content” (a new video) is distributed organically in viewers’ feeds. TikTok, however, frequently utilizes a second exposure window, aka a “delayed explosion”. Translation? Don’t delete a video if it doesn’t rank highly within the first 24 hours. Regularly deleting lots of videos causes the algorithm to view your channel as of poor quality, and downgrades your placement on viewer’s feeds.

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