How to Go Viral: Understanding the TikTok Algorithm

How do some TikTok posts go viral while others don’t receive any traction? The answer? It’s all about the algorithm,…

How do some TikTok posts go viral while others don’t receive any traction? The answer? It’s all about the algorithm, baby. When ‘algos go wild,’ you could end up watching the view count on your videos go through the roof.

What does it take to position your TikTok content with the algorithm to get more followers, likes, comments, and the possibility of going viral? Let’s unpack a few strategies to help you game the TikTok algorithm to your advantage.

The TikTok Algorithm Explained

What is the TikTok algorithm? For those not in the know, an algorithm is a set of computer code designed to interpret data and execute tasks based on conclusions made from those data sets. It’s the backbone of any social media platform, and TikTok is no different.

The key to success on TikTok is to land your videos on the “For You Page” (FYP). The FYP is the destination for users that want to scroll across the latest content in their favorite categories. The TikTok algorithm analyses what content the user enjoys.

It presents content on the FYP that matches their viewing habits, personalizing their feed. If your videos land on the FYP, it’s the first step to attracting more followers and engagement for your account, positioning your post to go viral if it receives enough traction.

The algorithm is dynamic. If you follow makeup tutorials, the algo starts presenting those videos to you in the FYP. If you start shifting your viewing habits towards more lifestyle-focused content, the algo detects the change. It starts delivering that content to your account while reducing the number of makeup tutorials served to you.

The TikTok Algorithm Explained

How the TikTok Algorithm Works

The algorithm governs all activity on the platform. Since millions of posts go live on TikTok every minute, it’s impossible for an admin team to manually review the content in each video. The algorithm searches your posts’ text-based and verbal content using artificial intelligence (AI).

As a result, it can scan all content and detect the theme of the video, categorizing it correctly. The algorithm also checks that the content complies with TikTok’s terms of service and community guidelines. When assessing content, the TikTok algorithm uses the following parameters to approve, categorize, and promote the video.

Behavioral Signals and User Engagement

Engagement is everything on social media. You need to feed the algorithm if you want the best chance of going viral on TikTok. The highest priority on the algos list of parameters for viral posts is engagement.

What is “engagement” exactly? We can define it as people interacting with your posts. The TikTok algorithm looks at the following engagement metrics when assessing your post’s popularity and viral potential.

  • Likes and shares viewers make on your videos.
  • Comments on videos.
  • Video completion ratio.
  • Post downloads or favorites.

The more engagement you receive, the more the TikTok algorithm promotes your videos. When your video engagement is off the chain, you’ll find your posts start appearing on the FYP.

Fortunately, you can create engagement with your videos. Ask viewers to leave a comment when you say something controversial or leave their opinion on a topic discussed in the post. Using this “Call to Action” (CTA) in your videos is incredibly powerful.

Remember to interact with viewers in the comments section. If you keep the conversation going, it attracts the algorithm’s attention. The more engagement you drum up in each video, the more value you present to the algorithm, and the better chance of your post going viral.

Account and Device Indicators

The TikTok algorithm analyzes the account settings and device type of the viewer to optimize your posts’ performance. The core components it looks for include the following parameters.

  • Country of origin.
  • Language preference.
  • Device type (iPhone, Android, iPhone, tablets, etc.)
  • Category selection

TikTok focuses on the US, UK, and European markets. Devices in these areas watching your content are more likely to generate algorithmic interest in your posts than those based in Countries like Mexico or Australia. While this metric is important, it’s not nearly as effective as improving the engagement rate of your content.

Account and Device Indicators

7 Tips to Game the TikTok Algorithm

To game the TikTok algorithm, you’ll need to boost engagement and watch time on your videos. The more user engagement you drive with your videos, the more the algorithm pays attention to your content, pushing it to the FYP page, where it has a chance of going viral.

Let’s look at seven tips to please the algorithm and get more out of your content strategy on TikTok.

#1 Hook the Viewer in the First Three Seconds

Speak to sales professionals; they’ll say you have three seconds to capture a prospect’s attention, or they’ll likely not buy from you. The same strategy applies to TikTok. You must be quick out of the gates to capture eyeballs on your videos. Don’t waste time getting to the point. Start strong.

If you don’t lock in the viewer in the first few seconds, you’ll end up with users opening and scrolling over your video. The algorithm sees this activity as viewers not receiving any value from your content. It won’t promote your videos due to poor watch time, low video completion rates, and lack of engagement.

#2 Use Voiceovers and Text

Incorporate voiceovers and text into your videos. Voiceovers help the algorithm identify your video category and its relevance. Users will also view the text, and they might miss it, causing them to rewatch your videos, adding to your view count and popularity with the algorithm.

#3 Choose Short Video Content

TikTok now hosts videos up to 10-minutes in length. Unlike YouTube, increasing the watch length of your videos might not be the best strategy. TikTok users have short attention spans, and posting long videos will likely see users skip over your work.

The algorithm notices this activity. Since there’s no engagement with the video, the algo assumes your content is low value. Play length also counts. If you have a ten-minute video, and no one makes it past the 30-second mark, it will affect the post’s performance with the algorithm.

#4 Posting Content At Peak Traffic Times

When you post on TikTok matters. The algorithm relies on engagement with your videos to promote them to a wider audience. If you post at two in the morning, there won’t be many people online viewing videos, reducing your reach and engagement.

You might think you’ve made the best video of your career, only to see it fail because it gets no attention and minimal engagement. Learning when to post is as important as knowing what to post. Posting at 10 pm EST on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays offers you the best chance of people viewing and engaging with your video.

The algorithm notices this engagement. It assumes it must be a video people want to see, pushing it out to a wider audience on the FYP.

#5 Use Trending Audio

The TikTok algorithm relies on audio as much as video when categorizing and promoting your content. Using trending songs in your TikTok videos gives the algorithm the information it needs to organize your video in that specific genre.

TikTok is one of the only social media platforms allowing you to search for audio. Jumping on viral trends is a great way to leverage the algorithm. When users interact and engage with your video, the algorithm starts recommending it to other people watching videos featuring the same audio track.

#5 Use Trending Audio

#6 Implement the Right Hashtags

The TikTok algorithm relies on hashtags to classify and categorize your content. It’s important to use specific hashtags instead of generic ones. The more detailed and refined the hashtag, the better indicator it is to the algorithm.

Check the FYP each day to see what hashtags are trending in your niche, and jump on the bandwagon. Participating in challenges is a great way to get attention on the platform. If you use hashtags surrounding challenges, the algorithm pushes your content onto the FYP, where you have a good chance of going viral.

#7 Create Captions with Keywords

Keywords are like flags to the TikTok algorithm. It relies on them to categorize your content for viewers on the platform. Your caption gives you 300 characters to add text describing your video content to users.

You don’t have to use all 300, but make sure you drop keyword-rich text into the caption to catch the algorithm’s attention.

In Closing – Understanding, and Gaming the TikTok Algorithm

Algorithms changed our lives forever. From Google to TikTok, algos govern all aspects of online activity. While you can’t escape the algorithm’s reach, you can learn how to leverage it to your advantage. You can tailor your content and posting strategy to achieve optimal results by understanding how the algorithm operates.

Implement the strategies in this post and watch the difference it makes to your videos’ views, likes, shares, and comments. If you’re persistent with your approach, it’s just a matter of time before your first video goes viral on TikTok.